Gen Z Shopping Experience Improved with Cognitive Technologies

John Krautzel
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Much of the focus on the economy revolves around millennials, but the next generation, dubbed generation Z, now influences a large chunk of Americans' consumer spending. Explore how cognitive technology may improve the shopping experience of this younger group of people and how this trend may affect your shopping habits in the future.

Forbes magazine talked to Harriet Green, the general manager of IBM's Watson Internet of Things, Commerce and Education department, to get her take on generation Z and its future shopping habits. Green started by saying this generation, as of January 2017, spans people ages 13 to 21. This group commands $44 billion in consumer spending in the United States as they buy various items either through their own labor activity or through Mom and Dad buying them consumer goods.

More Statistics

Shoppers in generation Z like to spend time in stores rather than in e-commerce portals, Green notes. As many as 67 percent of these shoppers prefer going to brick-and-mortar stores to find items, while 31 percent go to physical stores sometimes. This breaks the pattern with millennials who specialize in using smartphones and mobile devices to find the best deals.

Younger people in generation Z spend nearly three-fourths, or 74 percent, of their time online with 25 percent going online at least five hours per day. Despite this heavy time spent using technology, these younger shoppers would rather go out into the world to shop. Perhaps this is because, as teenagers, these young shoppers want to create a more social experience with shopping rather than spend time at home. Go to a mall on Friday night and see how many people there are teenagers, and you may find that hanging out at the mall is still a thing.

Personalized Experience

A personalized shopping experience represents one holdover from millennials to generation Z when it comes to retail behavior. Younger people love to watch YouTube, and they can find basically whatever niche videos they want on the video sharing service whether someone wants to find how-to beauty secrets or tips to getting past the hardest boss level in the latest video gaming hit. Similarly, younger shoppers still want a personalized experience when they walk into the store. That's where advanced technology comes into play.

In-Store Interaction

Cognitive technology, such as the one found in IBM's Watson, can help power artificial intelligence within a store. For example, a person uses an app on a smartphone to interact with various points in the store based on the customer's preferences found within the app. This technology melds big data, wireless beacons in a store, GPS and someone's online shopping preferences with predictive shopping. One company,, uses artificial intelligence as a personal concierge as you look for gifts for someone. When you go into a store, this personalized shopping experience could point you to a specific shelf or corner of the location as you pick out something to buy.

Generation Z faces an entirely new set of technological advancements when it comes to shopping. Retailers and parents who pay attention to these trends have an easier time trying to make decisions on what to buy these up-and-coming consumers.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at


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