Gen Z: The Digitally Native Generation & Their Shopping Habits

 In Marketing

Generation Z, or those born from the mid-90s to the early 2010s, make up a huge portion of today’s consumers—especially those born in the 90s. As a retailer, it’s important for you to know exactly who they are, how they shop, and what you can do to encourage their patronage.

What is Gen Z About?

Gen Z, also known as the iGeneration, came after Millennials. They’re the first generation to have their entire lives immersed in the digital age, having known technology from computers to cell phones, their entire lives.

While Gen Z has the world at its fingertips, it’s also known to live with higher levels of anxiety, stress, and depression than those who came before them. As consumers, Gen Z isn’t known to be particularly loyal to brands and as such, it can be more difficult for businesses to win repeat business from this age group.

There are more than 68 million Gen Z’ers in the U.S. population, representing a huge facet of consumerism. Unlike those that came before them, Gen Z appreciates businesses that support a cause. That said, they also buy in to trends, whether that’s brands touted by their favorite influencers or brands that all their friends are using. Some of the favorite brands of Gen Z as of 2022 included:

  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Nike
  • Google

While these major brands hold a special place in the hearts of Gen Z members, this list doesn’t account for the influencer-advertised brands that have become so popular in recent years, such as Morphe, SKIMS, and Social Tourist.

A Different Kind of Consumer

Generation Z is a more critical consumer group and demonstrate more conscious shopping habits than its predecessors. Consumers in this age group are after high-quality goods and while they’re generally tight with their spending, they’re willing to spend more when they feel a connection to a brand or its products.

Convenience and sustainability are key

Gen Z prefers to shop online instead of heading to the mall and as such, they enjoy websites that are easy to shop and purchase from. One-click checkout, free or low-cost shipping, and pay-in-four options like ShopPay, Klarna and Afterpay go a long way in gaining repeat business from this generation.

Furthermore, Gen Z is a passionate generation that feels strongly about the planet and future generations. Its people appreciate sustainable options, such as shopping locally and purchasing sustainably-sourced products. They have certain expectations and want brands to uphold particular socio-political views or environmental standards. Generation Z shoppers are willing to pay at least 10% more to get the desired products and services.

Social Media Dictates Shopping Habits

Generation Z’s approach to shopping is different, even when compared with Millennials who frequently shop online. They often turn to social media sites, including TikTok and Instagram, when hunting for new products. In fact, data published by LaterBlog indicates that 60% of Gen Z use Instagram to find new products and brands. As such, many retailers have embraced social media marketing or social commerce. Business Insider notes that social commerce accounted for 4.3% of e-commerce retail sales in the United States. In 2021 social commerce reached $37 billion in sales and it’s estimated to rise to $45 billion in 2022.

In simpler terms, social commerce is a way to promote and sell products through social media platforms. Currently Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have built-in native social commerce features.

Influencer Marketing Trumps Traditional Advertising

Although Millennial’s and Gen X’ers have long relied on traditional advertising means, including print and television ads, to provide them with information about great new brands and products, Gen Z’ers turn to social media influencers instead to find the info they need to make their purchases.

A recent Google study indicated that 70% of teenagers who subscribe to influencer channels and profiles on platforms like YouTube trust influencers to provide them with accurate reviews and to help them to decide where and how to spend their money.

Mobile Apps More Trusted Than Websites

If your company has a mobile app, expect Gen Z shoppers to check out 157% more than those visiting your website alone. According to Gen Z’ers, a mobile app puts your brand in a higher position of trust while offering them an extra level of convenience, making mobile apps a more desirable way to shop.

Newer, Better Ways to Pay

Mobile payment methods that have given previous generations, particularly Generation X and Baby Boomers, some hesitation about security, have been quickly adopted by Gen Z. This generation prefers convenient payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Wallet over carrying clunky cards or cash.

The Bottom Line

Automation is key when it comes to appealing to Generation Z’s shopping habits. Utilize automated online merchandising, powered by AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics, to get the products Gen Z wants most in front of them when they visit your mobile app or website. By optimizing their exposure to your brand and your products, you’re far more likely to convert the average Gen Z shopper into a repeat buyer.

In addition to an optimized online storefront, you’ll need to keep up with e-commerce trends. That includes offering convenient checkout options like pay-in-four solutions and Apple Pay, as well as one-click checkout for repeat buyers.

Lastly, don’t leave your brand’s reputation in the hands of traditional advertisements. Get your name out there by utilizing TikTok, Instagram and Facebook for advertising and if your budget allows, try working with one or several influencers who can get your brand in front of this newest generation of consumers.


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