Gen Z Is Twice as Likely to Prioritize Technology as Part of the Modern Shopping Experience

New survey findings from Creative Realities reveal that young shoppers are leading the push away from the traditionally sought-after qualities of convenient location, clean and comfortable shopping experience, and friendly associates

Creative Realities, a leading provider of digital signage and media solutions, today released findings from its 2023 Modern Shopper Survey.

The nationwide survey revealed that Gen Z, the demographic born between 1997 and 2012, is the most likely to seek technology-enabled, self-service solutions compared to consumers of other demographics. As the first social generation to have grown up with access to the Internet and portable digital technology from a young age, they are significantly less demanding of the “traditional” shopper experience — especially compared to their parents (Gen X) and grandparents (Boomers).

Reaching out to 1,000 U.S. adults via third-party survey platform Pollfish, Creative Realities conducted a comprehensive survey regarding the impact of technology on the contemporary shopping experience. The objective was to gain a deeper understanding of how U.S. consumers prefer experiences across several categories, and to explore if sentiment would shift depending on age, shopping intentions, and industry.

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Key findings from the survey include:

  • Over 75% of respondents feel that technology makes shopping better. Respondents generally considered technology a positive influence on the shopping experience yet, when examining the data by shopper type, we saw several interesting variations. For instance, respondents who identified as an “informed shopper” (those who research items before purchasing) are the most optimistic about technology — 84% saying it makes their shopping experience better.
  • Gen Z and older generations (Gen X and Boomers) hold divergent in-store shopping preferences. Gen Z expressed a strong inclination toward independent experiences, such as self-service kiosks, in both retail and restaurant settings, sharply contrasting with the older generation’s preference for interacting in-person during purchases. Additionally, the significance of friendly employees resonates more strongly with Gen X compared to their younger counterparts. While over half of surveyed Gen X individuals expressed a desire for pleasant interactions with employees while shopping, Gen Z places greater emphasis on unobtrusive experiences that allow self-direction.
  • The impact of technology on the shopping experience is contingent upon the specific retail environment. Although the majority of respondents are in favor of technology, the survey results revealed varying preferences for different technological features across industries. A significant number of respondents expressed that technology enhances the retail shopping experience, with an even higher proportion endorsing its benefits in grocery shopping. However, these same shoppers indicated that technology does not improve the shopping experience in convenience stores.

“U.S. shoppers, spanning across all age groups, embrace the integration of technology in their consumer journey. They aspire to encounter a shopping experience that aligns with their notion of exceptional service,” said Beth Warren, Creative Realities’ senior vice president of marketing. “Ultimately, the crucial aspect lies in the fact that we see a trend of consumers actively seeking technology to enhance their shopping experience, elevating convenience and personalization. By incorporating technology into the shopping experience today, companies can establish distinctive selling points that captivate the expanding consumer base anticipating technology-driven shopping experiences.”

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