One sentence reveals how teen Generation Z is killing Gap, Abercrombie, and J. Crew

Generation Z’s shopping habits are affecting traditional retailers.

A recent Business of Fashion story highlights how Generation Z has completely different values from previous generations.

This means traditional retailers, like the ailing Gap, may need to rethink the way they operate.

The confounding Gen Z — or teen generation — does not want ‘things.’

“They don’t want to buy stuff. They’re buying an experience and the product they get through it is kind of a bonus,” Marcie Merriman, Gen Z expert and executive director of growth strategy and retail innovation at Ernst & Young, told Business of Fashion.

That’s because they can share experiences on social media.

“Their entire life, if it’s not shareable, it didn’t happen,” Merriman said to Business of Fashion. “Experiences define them much more than the products that they buy.”

Stores that succeed are ones that capitalise on this. Business of Fashion points to the expanding Primark, which proudly flaunts its hashtag #Primania. Primark’s clothes are extremely cheap, which is therefore appealing: the clothes can be shared on social media, and can then be replaced — for new clothes, new photos, and new ‘likes.’

This shift is also hurting luxury retailers, like Tiffany & Co. Something traditionally ‘worthwhile’ that can be worn forever serves little to no purpose on social media.

The only other thing teens and young people want to spend money on is technology, which heightens the desire for disposable, cheap apparel — and further threatens traditional, more durable clothes.

“Besides experiences, iGen [another term for Generation Z] and millennials both like to spend money on technology, what we would consider a small but utilitarian luxury. In fact, iGen, more than any other generation, said young people should get their first smartphone at age 13!” Jason Dorsey of the Center for Generational Kinetics wrote in a note to Business Insider last month.

“The combination of wanting to buy experiences and technology does not bode well for expensive luxury items as they’re not very practical and once you’ve had your new piece of jewellery on a few Instagram pics and Snapchats, you can’t wear it for a long time or else it makes it look like you have nothing else to wear,” he wrote.

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