The retail industry is in the midst of a profound transformation, driven by technological innovation and evolving consumer preferences. In this ever-changing landscape, one demographic wields unprecedented influence: Gen Z. For retail marketing leaders, adapting to these changes and harnessing innovative strategies is essential to not only survive but thrive in the new era of retail.

🛍️ Social Shopping Takes Over: The End of Traditional Browsing

According to KPMG’s report on the key trends shaping the retail industry, there’s an urgent need for a retail reset as the traditional browsing experience is being replaced by a dynamic, socially driven shopping journey. Consumers, particularly Gen Z and millennials, are turning to social media for purchase inspiration. In fact, nearly half of consumers—and approximately 70 percent of millennials and Gen Zers—say they rely on social media, celebrities, and articles or blogs for purchase inspiration (McKinsey & Company).

💬 Transitioning from Selling Products to Engaging Consumers

McKinsey & Company emphasizes the rise of social commerce as the emergence of TikTok Shop and Live shopping present exciting opportunities for brands to connect with their audience. In fact, the global social-commerce market is expected to grow more than $2 trillion by next year. (“Social Commerce: The future of how consumers interact with brands”). This is being driven by the so-called “creator economy” individuals with their own brands and online audiences, who have emerged as one of the biggest developments of the digital age. According to Goldman Sachs Research, analysts expect spending on influencer marketing could double in size to $480 billion by 2027.

📈 Tapping into the Rise of Social Commerce 

Retailers still need to excel at selling products, but first-party product sales will become only one element in a broader ecosystem—one that includes services, experiences, inspiration, advice, and content—to keep consumers coming back. As social channels become hotbeds for product discovery and recommendation, influencer-created content will become even more important as Forbes highlighted “Top Trends In Influencer Marketing” that over 80% of consumers have either purchased, or considered purchasing a product after seeing friends, family, or influencers post.

🚀 Boosting Sell-through with Experiential Campaigns

Retailers can leverage influencers in various ways to generate content, ranging from product promotion to affiliate marketing. An effective strategy to boost in-store sell-through rates involves deploying experiential campaigns, where influencers document their shopping journey and share it online. This approach has proven highly successful for brands such as Think! Bars and Scentuals, which experienced a 55% increase in sell-through at Walmart and a 71% increase at Real Canadian Superstore with Creator. By partnering with influencers who not only align with their brand and target audience but also reside within close proximity (5km) to these stores, they were able to produce engaging videos that underscored the product’s value and in-store experience. 

As the retail industry undergoes a profound transformation, retail marketing leaders must adapt to Gen Z influence, leverage social commerce, and embrace digital transformation to thrive in the new era of retail. By staying ahead of the curve and implementing innovative strategies, brands can position themselves for success in the ever-changing retail landscape.