Influencer culture has been around for over a decade at this point, coming into its own and growing in popularity with the rise of social media and video platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Vine (RIP), Twitter, Snapchat, and now, of course, TikTok.
Although it targets all generations, social media in the influencer age specifically puts a heavy focus on Gen Zers, who have a buying power of more than $140 billion according to Barkley Inc. But with all that buying power comes the mess of trying to get the right products to the right audience at the right time. To make the most out of social media fads and capitalize on trends, strengthening product discovery is crucial for retailers.
How Gen Z Shops in the Influencer Age of Social Media Fads
As a truly influential generation, Gen Z is going to continue to drive cultural change on many fronts, especially consumption behavior and how they shop. In current times, Gen Zers look to their peers and social media for inspiration with fashion more than other areas like traditional “top-down” fashion inspirations. But with the growing number of fads appearing around every scroll, it’s no surprise that retailers may have trouble keeping up.
According to Vogue Business, Gen Z is currently the generation most interested in shopping and also the most optimistic generation when it comes to both in-store and online purchases. However, they’re not just spending their money left and right – they’re careful about how they spend their money and what they spend it on. They’re often trying to balance the desire for reasonable prices with their appetite for high-quality items and are willing to shop across channels to find exactly what they’re looking for.
Although social media is used nowadays like a digital shopping mall, with about 40% of Gen Zers saying social platforms most heavily influence their purchasing decisions, to those in Gen Z, social media and the digital world isn’t just a sales channel, it exists as a way to build connections and community. Along with prioritizing a brand’s authenticity and values, sustainability, and social responsibility, Gen Zers are big on staying on top of cultural trends and making purchases to stay relevant – to keep up with the fads and what’s “in” at the moment.
A fad in social media or fashion is a short-term, fleeting interest in an item, rather than a lasting long-term interest. Unlike trends that have staying power, social media fads often don’t stand the test of time, but they’re constantly occurring. So, how can retailers endure and ensure they’re capitalizing on the right trends (and not just one and done fads) at the right moment for Gen Zers? The first step to better product discovery in the influencer age – a rich and up-to-date taxonomy.
The Importance of a Robust Taxonomy
In order for retailers to stay on top of the latest trends (Y2K, Coastal Grandmother, etc.) and quickly optimize their e-commerce website to convert more traffic into sales, it’s key to implement a robust taxonomy of relevant and up-to-date product attributes.
In order for retailers to more closely predict what Gen Z shoppers are likely to buy in the coming months, it’s crucial for retailers to utilize a language that puts customer-driven attributes first – not legacy, generic attributes. Legacy, out-of-the-box attributes only consider part of the picture – that of the merchant, the manufacturer, or distributor – and often aren’t optimized to capture the many ways in which Gen Z shoppers in the real world actually search for products.
By expanding the attributes assigned to any given product to encompass the language of customers, and not merely the language of manufacturers or distributors, retailers can increase their ability to sell Gen Z shoppers what they’re actually looking for when they’re actually looking for it – not missing out on trends and decreasing the need to mark that inventory down later.
Quick and easy product discovery not only brings results that are more likely to be relevant, it also can help with better personalized recommendations. In order to show a Gen Z shopper that you know and understand who they are as an individual, this requires an understanding of not just what they purchased – but why.
When your taxonomy is rich with details from AI, it learns about the customer and can help retailers understand how they engage on a website. This helps to create product recommendations that reflect a customer’s genuine personal preferences and affinities, leading to higher conversions.
Lily AI’s Domain Experts
Lily AI is well-equipped to help retailers quickly understand which product attributes are actually moving merchandise for Gen Z and all other generations of shoppers. Our team of style experts/trend analysts are not only committed to researching short-term and long-term trends, they also identify the relevant tags that embody each of those styles. They then collaborate with the AI-powered automation side to pull and highlight the specific attributes that resonate with each trend.
Lily’s team of trend analysts bring their hands-on experience and style and domain expertise to help build and develop our retail product taxonomy, essentially guiding our automation to “think and behave like a stylist.” They work to make sure it remains current and fresh so retailers can stay on top of trend forecasting with in-depth research and development of product attribution for multiple categories, across all genders and unisex/genderless.
Our in-house domain experts continue to grow and develop our existing categories to ensure attributes are updated with the latest terminology used in the fashion, home, and beauty spaces. The team not only is able to build an extensive list of styles under each category, but they’re also able to capture other styles or sections that haven’t even been mentioned yet. Lastly, they have the capabilities to determine what is likely to be a fad vs. what is a lasting trend.