What do Generation Z shoppers want?
It’s a question that’s becoming more and more pressing for grocers. With the eldest members of the generation turning 27 in the new year, Gen Z young adults are beginning to budget, graduate, enter the professional workforce and run their own households — which includes the age-old chore of food shopping.
To better resonate with the younger generation, many grocers have updated their marketing strategies, including utilizing social media, investing in more sustainable packaging and food options, supporting smaller businesses and, overall, ramping up their online presence.
But according to Claire Spackman, what Gen Z consumers really want isn’t just connectivity, but also a connection to where they shop, the products they buy and the people that make them. That’s why Spackman, a Gen Zer herself, decided to start Consumerhaus, a fully curated online market looking to become a central grocery shopping hub for Gen Z consumers.
Spackman has hand-selected every brand featured on Consumerhaus, based not only on product quality, but also on the resonance of the brand’s marketing and social media promotions for Gen Z shoppers.
The shopping platform, which has no membership fee, is preparing to launch on Jan. 3 with over 700 products from more than 100 small brands that produce food and beverage products, health and wellness goods, pet supplies and personal care items. Sixty percent of its assortment will be grocery items.
“There’s no centralized platform where we can find these types of products that are what Gen Z are looking for as well as the stories and faces behind these products,” Spackman said.
Curation of smaller brands
Online marketplaces that offer an assortment of niche goods are nothing new. Thrive Market, Misfits Market, Public Goods and Verishop, among others, have established themselves by offering a more limited selection of goods compared to the sprawling assortment often found at supermarkets.
Where Consumerhaus looks to stand out is by forging an even deeper connection between shoppers and its products through detailed founder backstories, a heavy social media presence and leveraging brands to take initiative in marketing themselves.
For one, Spackman has personally written up each brand’s founder story, which will be featured on the Consumerhaus website when it launches.
Spackman said Consumerhaus strives to be not only a shopping website but a way for onboarded brands to take the lead in marketing their products. A key part of this is relying on drop shipping rather than holding products in a central warehouse, which will save on overhead costs and allow the brand’s packaging to stand out.
“Most of these brands have invested very, very heavily into the unboxing experience. So when you actually receive the package, it's sometimes a very educational piece where [the brands] have information on how to use the product in the actual package, and more of the brand storytelling piece,” Spackman said. “So the customer really gets to feel like part of the journey in a way.”
Spackman didn’t feel Consumerhaus could live up to those packaging details if it had opted for direct shipping. Consumerhaus offers free shipping on everything purchased through the website, even if the brand independently does not offer free shipping.
Before onboarding a brand, Spackman ensures that it has a reliable, speedy shipping process. “I think that’s kind of a necessity in today’s world, thanks to Amazon,” she said.
Though drop shipping does mean brands will be responsible for covering shipping fees, which is common with this business model, Consumerhaus’ brand partnerships allow each brand to receive the MSRP they are normally retailing for, which is not always a given with drop shipping retailers. Consumerhaus then takes its own commission percentage on each sale, Spackman said.
Social media & online marketing
More grocers have begun introducing social media into their marketing strategies in an effort to reach younger shoppers and promote products. But Spackman’s online approach strives to go more in-depth, showing the “nitty gritty” startup story of each brand — something that Gen Z tends to gravitate towards when shopping, Spackman said.
Consumerhaus’ social media presence will be on Instagram and TikTok, further narrowing in on its Gen Z target audience. Already, a number of social media giveaways, influencer partnerships and promotion series are underway to prepare for the upcoming launch.
In keeping with Consumerhaus’ platform of underscoring its brand’s founder stories, Spackman has prepared a Featured Founder Instagram series where brand founders will introduce themselves and their businesses in 1- to 2-minute video clips on Instagram. “This campaign will be ‘humanizing’ the founder and showing the face behind each brand,” Spackman wrote in an email.
The first video of the series was posted last week and showcased Revival Food Co. and its founder, Rachel Klein.
Springboarding off this social media series are the “Behind the Brand” and “Meet the Maker” series. Though separate from the Instagram videos, both of these series will delve further into the personalities and backstories behind each brand and live on the Consumerhaus official website.
Also in motion is Consumerhaus’ Instagram giveaways. In collaboration with a number of its brands, the online market’s goal of these giveaways is to “spread awareness of Consumerhaus in this way and by leveraging the audiences of our brands,” Spackman said in an email.
To Gen Z, social media influencers often wield the same level of stature as celebrities, especially when it comes to brand partnerships. To tap into this market, Consumerhaus is gearing up to launch its Consumerhaus Party Pack. Select influencers and content creators will be sent a themed party package complete with “swag” — including Consumerhaus-branded shot glasses, baseball caps and more — as well as party-themed products from select Consumerhaus products, including hydration mixes, hangover relief shots, premium condoms and instant cocktail mixes, to name a few.
This campaign is scheduled for early January, around the time of Consumerhaus’ official launch.
“A Gen Z Amazon”
Amazon has set a precedent for online shopping offering a large array of products and fast shipping. And while Consumerhaus is straying from a number of the e-commerce retail giant’s methods that make it so popular — including stocking household name brands — Spackman does want to create the same reliable reputation Amazon has.
The vision for Consumerhaus was, in many ways, to be “a Gen Z version of Amazon,” but rather than focusing on quantity, Consumerhaus will emphasize quality, Spackman said.
Consumerhaus is up against online platforms that will offer lower prices, larger selections and faster shipping. But Spackman said she aims to carve out a popular niche by offering a better, more personalized experience targeted to young shoppers.
“Discovery is really a huge part of Consumerhaus. I think we do brand ourselves as a marketplace, but we are just as much a discovery platform for a lot,” Spackman said.
She continued, “We’re trying to make it a little bit more accessible to really discover these brands and for these brands to reach new consumers.”