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Gen Z Explained


Did you know that nearly 40 percent of team sports players can be attributed to participants ages 12-24? That is the core customer of team dealers and they are part of what is now being called Generation Z. So pay attention: Here is what you need to know about them.

  • Gen Z is classified as those who were born between 1997-2010 — this year they are between the ages of 11 and 24. There are 55.2 million of them, comprising 17 percent of the U.S. population. By way of comparison, Baby Boomers make up 22 percent of the population and Millennials 24 percent.
  • Almost all young adults are on social media — 96 percent of them are on YouTube, 82 percent on Instagram, 69 percent on TikTok and only 63 percent on Facebook and 55 percent on Twitter. Gen Z considers Facebook “outdated.”
  • Gen Z performs research at a similar rate as other shoppers, but less so for footwear purchases.
  • When purchasing online Gen Z is looking more for availability and ratings/reviews than any other reason.
  • Paradoxically, Gen Z likes shopping in-store. They like to see and try on product before buying. In fact, nine out of 10 Gen Z sporting goods shoppers visit a physical store prior to purchasing a product, more so than any other group of shoppers. The reasons: Trying things on, instant gratification and not having to pay for shipping.
  • It is important to note that because they prefer the in-store shopping experience, seven out of every 10 Gen Z purchases are influenced during the actual shopping experience. In fact, Gen Z is very open to changing their minds before purchasing while in a store.
  • Unintended purchases occur most often during planned equipment purchases. Gen Z is most influenced by eye-catching displays/ads.

What Retailers Need To Know …

  • Gen Z is a large audience that is and will continue to be critical to the success of the team and sporting goods  business. They currently represent one-in-six of the general population, but are most likely a higher percentage of your customer base. As mentioned earlier, Gen Z accounted for nearly 40 percent of team sports participation in 2020.
  • Gen Z is still impressionable; some might call them malleable. They are in the midst of life changes and their self-identity shows both the development and the massive changes they are facing — they tend to describe themselves as Lonely, Overwhelmed, Impulsive and Unique.
  • The team and sporting goods business must still appeal to Gen Z on the foundational basics of price, selection and quality. But Gen Z is not so unique that all else goes out the window. There is no need for wholesale change to appeal to them.
  • Social Media is their entertainment, not TV or even streaming services. This will require some creative thinking on the part of team dealers and their vendors about how best to reach them.
  • Gen Z is very “in the moment.” The shopping experience is important to them — they are open to and can be influenced by what the retail environment has to offer. They enjoy instant gratification and are actually less tied to online research, e-commerce and showrooming than one might expect.
  • As a group, Gen Z shoppers are more open-minded when they walk through the door than other shoppers. The in-store experience matters a lot to them — seeing products and trying items on in-store, doing slightly less research before they leave, the influence of in-store displays and discounts. However, beware of the low influence of “in-store” associates.
  • In terms of future trends, make your perceptions of value resonate with Gen Z shoppers by focusing on fast, free delivery and/or shipping, free returns and monetary savings that are available to them through the retail experience.

Emerging Gen Z Trends

  1. Move beyond transactional to personal. Consumers are craving connections after being restricted from living their regular lifestyles for so long. When it comes to retail, shoppers like to support businesses where they themselves feel appreciated.
  2. Be clear about the meaning of value. More than ever, consumers are seeking tangible and measurable benefits from the purchases they make. Team dealers andsporting goods retailers have an opportunity to redefine how they promote value and there are ways to demonstrate it to consumers beyond offering discounts or ongoing sales.
  3. Look outward to partnership opportunities. Retailers across categories are seeing the value of partnering with third-party resources amid the pandemic to ensure their business could keep operating as efficiently as possible. Gen Z also values companies that share their values, so promoting partnerships that are of value to consumers is key as well.
  4. Offer products and services linked to wellbeing. Holistic wellbeing was already a growing priority among Americans before the pandemic. COVID-19 placed an even brighter spotlight on the importance of wellbeing that will carry on after the pandemic threat is over.

Source: A presentation at the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) Management Conference and Team Dealer Summit, September 2021, by Nick Rigitano, NSGA director of insights and analysis.