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Understanding Gen Z, millennial shopping behaviour is key to the future of retail

Lifestyle aspirations, brand values and higher expectations of the shopper experience are some of the factors fuelling their spending patterns

The key to winning the future of retail lies in understanding new consumer shopping and payment behaviours. PHOTO: ATOME
The key to winning the future of retail lies in understanding new consumer shopping and payment behaviours. PHOTO: ATOME

The retail industry – both in the online marketplace and in the traditional brick and mortar domain – has been buoyed by a new target audience in recent years. 

Say hello to millennials and their younger counterparts, Gen Zs who also go by a myriad other names like iGen, Digital Natives and Zoomers. 

Millennials are defined as those born between the early 1980s and 1996 (aged 29 to 34 this year) whereas Gen Zs were born after 1996, and are 23 or younger.  

Both these groups, said to be shaping the future of retail, represent a new generation of shoppers who are influencing the way brands are disrupting their traditional selling blueprints.

A businessinsider.com report published at the start of this year estimates that Gen Zs have a spending power worth $140b globally. In Singapore, Gen Zs may form 40 per cent of all shoppers by the end of this year, according to a mediaonemarketing.com.sg report. 


Gen Z and millennials shopping at Sephora ION Orchard during Black Friday weekend. PHOTO: ATOME

Understanding spending habits, meeting buyer expectations

What does this all mean for retailers? 

While the current Covid-19 pandemic has stalled career plans and dampened job prospects for some, an economic youth boom is still taking place and will continue to flourish in years to come. 

Millennials are in their prime spending years now, having enjoyed some years of job security and accumulated savings. Despite the pandemic, they look forward to owning their dream home, starting a family and spending on travel experiences. However, they must now carefully manage their budget and spending.

Meanwhile, Gen Zs are starting to enter the workforce – albeit taking up prolonged internships and settling for contract work for now – and are revelling in the independence and empowerment that come with spending their “own” money.

When spending on sustainable fashion, luxury items, personal entertainment systems and mobile devices, this market segment’s habits are shaped by various factors. These include their personal alignment with a brand’s values, and higher expectations of a mobile-first, seamless retail experience spanning shopping, payment, delivery and customer service. 

They are also driven by a need for self-expression and identity, which fuels their spending approach. Their spending is expected to have a longer runway too, given their ages now.

No longer business as usual 

As a result, business cannot go on as usual if retailers and brands wish to court, empower and retain millennial and Gen Z shoppers. Instead, they need to invest in ways that match how they shop, even if this means disrupting time-tested blueprints. 

For instance, something as fundamental and functional as how customers can choose to pay for their purchases has to evolve to meet the new needs of these young and up-and-coming shoppers. 


Shoppers now expect payment convenience and flexibility wherever and whenever they shop. PHOTO: ATOME

Case in point: a typical Gen Z shopper may see a brand ad on Instagram, check out its online store, add a product to cart, and head down to its flagship store to test-drive or try on the item while being immersed in a specially curated ambience, and then go home to buy the merch online again.  

With this new generation of consumers preferring a multi-channel approach to their consumption behaviours, retailers would do well to catch them at all touch points by providing a seamless, on-demand, quick and easy shopping experience that starts from browsing either online or in stores to checkout and last mile delivery. 

Revolutionising retail therapy

All this is what drives leading buy now, pay later brand Atome. 

Atome is available both online and offline, an important feature especially for Gen Zs who — unlike millennials who have moved largely to online shopping — are going back to brick and mortar shops yet also keen on shopping across all formats. 

Its service is available in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and China, and currently partners more than 2,000 key online and offline retailers across the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, fitness and homeware sectors. 

Some of Atome’s partners in Singapore include Sephora, Zara, Bershka, Pull&Bear, Marks & Spencer, Hush Puppies, IUIGA, Mary Chia and iStudio. 


UK retailer Marks & Spencer has introduced buy now pay later payment options with Atome. PHOTO: ATOME

All the pleasure of shopping, instantly

Atome empowers a new generation of tech-savvy, mobile-first consumers by giving them faster, easier and smarter access to their aspirations. Seventy per cent of its shoppers are millennials and Gen Zs.

On the merchant side,  retailers can now offer flexible and convenient payment options for their customers, allowing the latter to spread out the payments for their purchases over three payments in two months and with zero per cent interest, with no admin or annual fees.  

This enables shoppers to stretch their dollar and pay less upfront, leading to bigger baskets and better conversion for brands. One example is homeware and furniture chain IUIGA, which grew its transaction volume by 15 times and doubled its average ticket size after introducing  Atome’s flexible payment options.

After all, as these savvy shoppers only need to pay just one third of the total purchase upfront, they no longer need to delay their purchase decisions, whether it’s about buying an essential laptop for work or sprucing up their dream home with a comfy sofa.

Building a thriving retail industry

As this generation of shoppers continue to click on the "buy" button on-the-go, at work or even while on their commute, it is up to retailers to join the proverbial dots to increase the tenuous link between physical and digital stores. 

Attractive store displays, shopping rewards, and other strong brand marketing efforts can improve the retail experience, but the offer of an instalment payment solution — the modern equivalent of a credit card — could effectively expand your customer base.

As a retailer, this could open doors not only to successful transactions, but your ability to enjoy increased conversions, and reach out to new customers while maintaining loyal ones.

All this, while offering your customers greater choice, affordability and more importantly, an improved and personalised shopping experience.

To learn more about Atome, click here.