Shopping Through a New Lens
The events of the past two years have fundamentally shifted consumer behaviour and the landscape of the retail industry. With many physical spaces shuttered, e-commerce exploded in 2020 and accelerated the virtual trend away from physical to digital shopping.
It is no doubt that e-commerce provided an essential lifeline for fashion brands during the pandemic, but there will always be an appetite for physical spaces among consumers. Moving forward, gen Z-ers and younger millennials - in particular, will be on the lookout for brands and retailers that integrate e-commerce with physical retail experiences.
"If there isn't a seamless physical-to-digital interaction, then it won't work for gen Z," Macdonald Johnston says. Physical retail spaces will be utilised as a platform for discovery and community experiences, while e-commerce will provide the ease of purchasing throughout a customer's journey.
Even before lockdown began, gen Z was already making huge waves within the world of e-commerce. They're digitally savvy, and used to working across multiple devices and platforms. With respect to this, the tasks for brands, Macdonald Johnston believes, is to try and keep up with this ever-evolving generation.
As drivers of digital innovation, it is important to note that sustainability is a core concern for Gen Z-ers - the core reason why reselling platforms are so popular among this segment. Having already experienced a recession, socio-political movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too, topped with the pandemic, gen Z-ers have great empathy for social and ethical causes. This group of consumers focus on putting their money where their morals are, and as massive e-commerce consumers, gen Z's concerns and emphasis on transparency would have to be acknowledged by brands in order to win their purchase.
Companies like Snapchat have the foresight to point out augmented reality's potential with connecting the physical and digital, especially in the world of fashion. Many brands are engaging with the opportunities posed by AR technology, like this one, which ties in gamification with campaigns to encourage customers to spend more time learning about a product and brand. Alongside this, fashion brands are venturing into forward-thinking projects like digital clothing and NFTs.
"Consumers are still getting that dopamine hit of wearing something really cool and new, as well as instant gratification, but with none of the waste behind it," Macdonald Johnson explains.
AR technology is also being used by luxury brands to reach wider audiences. In March 2021, Gucci created $18 AR versions of their sneakers that can cost upwards of $500 as physical products, making their high-end items more easily accessible. This is especially appealing to younger consumers who are granted access to the magic of luxurious labels that would otherwise be out of reach in the real world.