Generation Z came of age in the era of one-click, free-return shopping. If they see something they like, they buy it online, instantly. If it doesn’t fit, they send it back. They value convenience over everything, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to shop in person. Generation Z is spending more time in real-life shopping environments

They use retail experiences to meet people, have fun and, often, to create content for their social channels. This blend of living life both on and offline means they are the perfect audience for experiential marketing strategies that drive customers to physical locations. 

Let’s meet Generation Z

Generation Z was born between the mid-90s and mid-00s. The exact boundaries of the group aren’t as defined as they were for previous generations. According to 2017 survey data from the US Census Bureau, more than 68 million Americans belong to Generation Z. 

They also access mobile devices more than any other group (about 9 hours a day), and don’t spend nearly as much time with desktop computers, laptops and TVs. They’re listening to podcasts, streaming videos and sometimes shopping on their phones while visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Mobile is completely integrated into their lives. 

Since they have always lived with mobile devices, they don’t view the digital and real-world divide the way older generations do. They are also more likely to interact with brands on social media in a personal way. Just check out the often hilarious back-and-forths with the Wendy’s Twitter account

Generation Z wants experiences

If you can provide an interesting environment, you can win Generation Z. To do that, you have to offer something worth getting off the couch for. Otherwise, potential customers will just chill at home with app-ordered food and Netflix.

Recently, we’ve seen large brands create outstanding examples of experiential spaces. They’re designed to provide real-world adventure while affirming what’s cool about their brands. They also catch tons of media attention. 

For example, this summer in Palm Springs, California, Taco Bell is opening The Bell. It’s a temporary takeover of a swanky hotel with a fully branded lifestyle experience designed to cater to the fast food chain’s super fans and influencers. It’ll feature hot sauce packet pool floats, a Taco Bell nail art salon, a bar with Bell themed cocktails, and of course, plenty of tacos. 

Not to be outdone, Krispy Kreme is opening a flagship store in Times Square. The 4,500-square-foot retail space is set to be open 24 hours a day and will feature a glaze “waterfall” and stadium seating. For doughnut fans, this promises to be a delicious destination. 

Both brands are capturing new fans and delighting existing ones with these shops. But it’s not just about these destinations. Social media and PR pushes remind customers who might not be able to make it to these hip spots that the chains nearest them feature (mostly) the same tasty food and beverages.

Leverage digital channels they’re already on

Taco Bell and Krispy Kreme reinforce their flagship destinations with plenty of content viewable on the most popular social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They post where their customers post. 

Taco Bell in particular has done an excellent job staying top of mind with consumers by being an early adopter of new social platforms and creating fun ways to interact with the brand online. They launched a “Cinco de Mayo” filter for Snapchat in 2016 that was viewed 224 million times—in one day!

Measure the success

A big part of any campaign is the digital promotion. But, in order for digital ads to work well as part of your marketing mix, they have to target audiences that represent people who are likely to shop with you. Most of the metrics used to evaluate the success of campaigns are focused on online engagement, like clicks. But the goal is ultimately a store visit. 

By measuring actual visits, you’ll be able to see whether or not your ad or email caused someone to enter your store. This is where offline attribution will begin to play a huge role in the evolution of marketing. The Walk-Through Rate™ is one example of a new metric you can use. So, rather than guessing, you’ll now know if your experiential marketing campaign actually worked for the generation that has gone completely digital. 


Marketing Retail