Gen Z is looking for personal interaction.

According to the new report CBRE, Dubai has overtaken London to become the most important international shopping destination globally. “Dubai remains the most attractive market in the region for retailers, with many using the emirate as a ‘launch pad’ for regional expansion,” said Nick Maclean, managing director of CBRE Middle East and Turkey Region.

According to CIA World Factbook, consumers younger than 24 years old account for 34% of UAE audience. They are expected to be the largest group of consumers by 2020, where their needs and behaviours create new generation of shoppers and shapes future of mainstream retail today. It’s time to realise that Generation Z (born after 1995) is not just an extension of Millennials, but portray new set of characteristics and demands.

Gen Z is a brand-conscious community; to attract their attention and to survive in the modern dynamic market, retail companies in UAE will need to invest in the brand building activities to create unique seamless customer experiences, online and offline. Young consumer group includes characteristics such as saving money rather than spending, shopping online, caring for the environment, making decisions based on recommendations of friends and reviews online, and seeing adverts as a thing of a past.

Branding industry is observing and constantly collecting new insights about new market behaviour, and have already proposed several ways on how store designs can influence modern shoppers. With a short attention span, Gen Z navigates primarily at eye-level only, bright big signage and banners will no longer be of an interest; it is all about product, its placement and in-store experience. A hidden price tag is another source of frustration, as new consumer fear they will want to buy the product they cannot afford. Being able to touch and test the product before purchase is another differentiating factor for Gen Z. Apple stores remain to be the best example of branded environment of the future, where having a strong brand strategy and positioning was at the core of their success.

Gen Z is looking for personal interaction, product experience and stress free purchase process: queuing is no longer affordable for their dynamic life. According to recent studies, the average attention span of today’s consumers is 8.25 seconds, which is less than of a gold fish. Recent research shows that only 41 per cent of customers would be prepared to join the back of a long queue, with majority of turning away and leaving the store, which according to the survey by YouGov, equates to 20.65 million missed sales opportunities every year in UK. Coming back to Apple stores, their staff is equipped with mobile tablets and are able to take transactions anywhere in the store, making it quick, easy & interactive. And when it comes to queuing at Apple store, it became an event and experience of its own.
Stores in the region may need to offer brand-led environments that are more inspiring and interactive and less about pushing sales. Retail industry will need to re-evaluate purchase experience not only offline, but online also, as the amount of people that get frustrated going through the Internet process for online purchase is on the rise.

With a number of new challenges, local retail companies can no longer neglect benefits of brand strategy, allowing experts in the industry to re-evaluate and perfect customer journey, to underline areas for improvement and propose on brand solutions that can vary from ensuring maximum and consistent visibility throughout offline and online touch points, development of an inviting physical store presence and music selection, creating engaging brand experiences, where consumers can try and test the product, leave a review or even customize it to their needs and wants.

Survival of the fittest in the local retail industry will be determined by companies that are able to build smart brand environments, that stand out but don’t stand still, continuously adapting to new demands in the market.

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