The emirate is known to be second most important international shopping destination globally after London, with a saturated market of local and international retailers. According to the ‘CIA World Factbook’, consumers younger than 24 years account for 34 percent of UAE audience. They are expected to be the largest group of consumers by 2020, where their needs and behaviours create a new generation of shoppers and shapes the future of mainstream retail today. It’s time to realise that Generation Z (born after 1995) is not just an extension of millennials and that they portray a 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. This young consumer group includes characteristics such as saving 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.
The branding industry is observing and constantly collecting new insights about 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 interest.
It is all about product, its placement and in-store experience. A hidden price tag is another source of frustration, as new consumers fear they will end up buying a product they cannot afford. Being able to touch and test the product before purchase is another differentiating factor for Gen Z.
Apple’s stores remain the best example of branded environment of the future, where having a strong brand strategy and positioning are at the core of their success. Gen Z is looking for personal interaction, product experience and a stress-free purchase process. Queuing up is no longer affordable for their dynamic life. According to studies, the average attention span of today’s consumers is 8.25 seconds, which is less than of a goldfish. Recent research shows that only 41 per cent of customers would be prepared to join the back of a long queue, with the majority preferring to turn and leave the store. This, according to the survey by YouGov, equates to 20.65 million missed sales opportunities every year in the UK.
With a number of new challenges, local retail companies can no longer neglect the benefits of a brand strategy, allowing experts in the industry to re-evaluate and perfect customer journey. They can underline areas for improvement and propose brand solutions that can vary from ensuring maximum and consistent visibility throughout offline and online touch points, and developing an inviting physical store presence and music selection. They can help create engaging brand experiences, where consumers can try and test the product, leave a review or even customise it to their needs and wants. The survival of the fittest in the local retail industry will be determined by companies that are able to build strong smart brands and stand out — but don’t stand still. And which can continuously adapt to new demands in the market.
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