Just Google “Move Over Millennials.” 

Go ahead, I’ll wait… see what I mean? It seems the Millennial generation is already beginning to be shoved unceremoniously aside for Generation Z. While I’m not willing to go there... we are still talking about the largest generation (Millennials) since the Baby Boomers that are just now entering their prime consumption years... there is no doubt that retailers and advertisers at least have Gen Z squarely on their radars.

Of the more than 1,000 fashion-savvy females who participated in the latest Teen Vogue and International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Back-to-School (BTS) 2015 survey, 73 percent are of Gen(eration) Z. And they’ve got a lot to say.

Here are a few highlights:

1. Back-to-School + Shopping = A Fresh Start.

Eighty percent of survey respondents see back-to-school shopping as a chance to hit the reset button, while 70 percent are eager to try out new trends like adding more accessories or nailing the perfect dress.

2. They Have Control Over Their Money… and They're Looking to Spend It.

The top priority this year for this year's survey participants to spend her cash on this season is fashion (83 percent) followed closely by dining out and beauty products. What’s more, 84 percent plan to spend more than they did last year, proving they are willing to invest in that fresh start.



Teen Vogue Mall Infographic

3. Gen Z’ers Aren’t Addicted to Their Phones, But They Do See Them as a Tool for the Laser-Focused Shopper.

I can actually hear the collective scoffs from parents after they read that sentence, but Millennials and Gen Z’ers aren’t just playing Minecraft. Seventy-five percent will use their smartphone while shopping for back-to-school items to seek out inspiration on social media. The most popular platforms to visit for that bit of inspiration? Instagram tops the list at 78 percent and Snapchat checks in at number two at 55 percent. The respondents said they would spend about two-and-a-half hours per day on social media checking out fashion and style. Also, 68 percent will research deals and promotions while shopping and 43 percent will visit the store or brand’s website.

4. 'MUST HAVES' Ring True for Any Age Demographic.

Gen Z’ers will stop at nothing to get their hands on: 1) A great bag; and 2) Perfect-fitting denim. One more integer for you – 20 – that’s the average number of items survey-takers will purchase for back-to-school this year. It won’t be only bags and jeans though, everyday casual clothing, shoes, technology and active-wear are all also on the list.

5. In-Store Tops the List.

Only 6 percent of participants say they’ll shop online-only; the rest intend to shop in-store (59 percent), or plan to combine online and in-store shopping (35%) – meaning that 94 percent will visit a store at some point during their BTS shopping. Why? Well, not surprisingly, instant gratification matters. As too does the experience of shopping and eating with friends. Where? 86 percent will shop at fast fashion stores, 69 percent at department stores, and 54 percent at specialty chain stores.


Jesse Tron is director of communications and media relations for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its more than 68,000 members in more than 100 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers, as well as academics and public officials. Follow Jesse on Twitter at @TronJesse.