Amid Convenience Culture, Gen Zers Embrace Boutique Shopping—Here’s Why

Gen Zers Are Embracing Boutique Shopping—Here's Why

Generation Z only knows a digitized world. Those born between 1997 and 2012 were raised with connectivity at their fingertips. Now, as they enter the workforce, they have become a consumer powerhouse. Their shopping habits aren’t strictly confined to online—they are intentional and omnichannelled. 

Unlike millennials, Gen Zers are vying for a shopping experience, but they aren’t opting for big-box stores. Those have their time and place. The younger generation is taking their $360 billion of disposable income to intimate and curated shopping spaces that fit their aesthetic and align with their values

“The age of waiting in lines at the mall or scrolling through pages of product on a website seem to be behind us,” MARKET Chief Creative Officer Keenan Walker says in an email to SUCCESS.

MARKET, a boutique in Dallas’ Highland Park Village, prides itself as a luxury and contemporary experiential shopping destination featuring a variety of brands including Christopher Esber, A.L.C, Proenza Schouler LLC and AGOLDE.

The boutique’s clientele shops with meaning. 

“There are so many big-box retailers or online shopping platforms out there; however our customers look to MARKET for a personalized experience and a highly curated selection that directly translates to their daily lives,” Walker says. 

For younger generations, social commerce reels them in. Instagram posts catch their eye and they visit MARKET for specific items. Once there, shoppers work one-on-one with associates to style a full look or pack their suitcase with a week’s worth of outfits. 

Walker is well-acquainted with her clients. She listens to their commentary, takes note of the events they attend and reviews their social interactions. This personalized attention to detail translates to conversions. It also helps her vet what brands to partner with for MARKET’s pop-up spaces. 

“Gen Zers will often browse online, but go to the physical store to purchase the products as they want to enjoy the in-person customer experience too,” according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Their multiple shopping formats include Instagram, department stores, pop-up shops, convenience stores chains and speciality stores. 

MARKET leases two rotating pop-up spaces bi-annually to emerging brands that speak to its sleek and contemporary appeal. Although, a thrust against fashion boundaries does hurt. 

“I am passionate about the newcomers in the industry and feel it’s my responsibility to not only offer our clients the familiar, but introduce them to what’s next,” Walker says. 

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Like the brand, the story behind it is equally as important to young shoppers. 

“People are buying the story, the connection, the relationship—that’s what it is,” lucky + lola boutique owner Nichole Fiorentino says. 

Photo by Jon King

lucky + lola is homegrown, housed in a suite at Ascension Salon in Dallas’ Lake Highlands neighborhood. It is the neighborhood where Fiorentino and her family have lived for over 20 years, and the one that rallied behind the Fiorentino family when Nichole was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer 13 years ago. 

The community nurtured the family of seven by providing meals, visiting and checking on the kids throughout Fiorentino’s treatment. lucky + lola is Fiorentino’s contribution to the kinship of the community. 

There is no online store, but for Gen Zers, that’s no issue. A 2020 study by McKinsey and Company found that unlike millennials, Gen Z is much more likely to shop at a brick-and-mortar. Often, they’re seeking unique pieces that help them stand out. 

“It’s a creative outlet to curate and create these spaces with the opportunities for people to access clothes that are not one of 100 that they go pick out at Macy’s,” Fiorentino says. 

Gen Zers Are Embracing Boutique Shopping—Here's Why
Photo by Jon King

Fiorentino’s shoppers range from young girls to “cool grandmas.” Exclusivity keeps shoppers coming back weekly. 

“I don’t really want to see people wearing the same thing that I’m wearing,” Fiorentino says. “I want to give that same opportunity to other people.”

Each item at lucky + lola is a limited run. The boutique orders two of each size for each garment. Once they are gone, they’re gone.

This draws the customers, but what generates their loyalty is old-fashioned interaction.

“If you just open your mouth and talk to people, you find out the most amazing things, and you will wind up talking to the most amazing people,” Fiorentino says. “I make a point of doing that with everybody that walks in.”

The seller-buyer interaction is a gateway into relationship development. It’s this interaction that has garnered both MARKET and lucky + lola client loyalty. 

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Taylor Johnson, founder of online boutique Hazel & Olive, knows the power of understanding your clients firsthand. The online boutique is geared towards college women and women fresh out of college. It is for women with things to do and places to go.

Courtesy of Hazel & Olive

“The younger generation, they go out a lot more than I did back in the day,” Johnson says. “They’re always at events and have so much stuff going on that they get dressed up for. I love it. It’s so fun!” 

Hazel & Olive found its roots in Johnson’s apartment in 2012. Johnson adopted a comment-to-shop model of selling using the boutique’s VIP Facebook group. She knew her shoppers—they were family, friends, and friends of friends. This intimacy allowed Hazel & Olive to outgrow the apartment and into a warehouse, where they offer appointment-only shopping. Client loyalty garnered the boutique $1 million in sales within the first six months of launching online. 

Despite the company’s expansive growth, Johnson still handles Hazel & Olive’s social media accounts. The company is highly active on social media, with its 276,000 Instagram followers keeping products from flying off the shelves. 

Courtesy of Hazel & Olive

According to McKinsey & Company, social media tends to be the main driver of purchasing decisions for 40% of adult Gen Zers, who seek to stand out. Instead of placing emphasis on brands, they prioritize uniqueness. 

To ensure her online boutique delivers on its selection of one-of-a-kind products, Johnson herself is the shop’s sole product buyer. 

“My plan is just to find really unique stuff,” Johnson says. 

Her keen eye has paid off. Hazel & Olive’s direct messages have been flooded with people praising their trendy selections, Johnson says. 

There is no shortage of tulle, fringe, sequins or ruffles at Hazel & Olive, which is exactly what its clientele desires.

“That’s the most important thing for us: listening to our clients and giving them more of what they want,” Walker says. 

Featured image by Destynie Paige Photography

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Gutierrez is an arts and culture journalist in Dallas. Her bylines include the Dallas Observer, D Magazine and Central Track. She will graduate from the University of North Texas in December with a B.A. in digital and print journalism with a minor in women’s and gender studies.

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