Gen Z is more than just the generation that brought us the return of low-rise jeans, Y2K fashion trends, and a disdain for the side-part. As digital natives who’ve grown up in a highly connected world, Gen Z’s approach to shopping is rewriting the rules of consumer engagement. In this post, we’ll take a look at the intricacies of their preferences, online behaviors, and the impact these insights have on shaping the future of marketing strategies.
Understanding how Gen Z navigates the shopping experience is essential for marketers. Let’s dive into a few top Gen Z stats to help you learn more about this new generation of buyers.
Access Tinuiti’s latest study: From A to (Gen) Z for more information on this topic.
Who is Gen Z? A Demographic Overview
Unlike generations before, Gen Z grew up in the world of smartphones and digital-first technology. From effortlessly shopping online for anything they need to making savvy purchase choices after a TikTok deep-dive, Gen Z is changing what it means to be a smart consumer in today’s world. Gen Z, often referred to as the post-Millennial generation, has never known a world without Internet, smartphones, and modern technology. They are diverse, educated, and have a strong purchasing power in today’s economy. But who are they exactly? Let’s take a quick look at their demographics.
- There are 68.6 million Gen Zers living in the United States (US Census)
- Gen Z will make up 20% of the population this year (Insider Intelligence)
- Gen Zers are expected to account for 40% of consumers in the US (Business Insider)
- Generation Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse age group in the US (Pew Research Center)
- 74% of Gen Z students noted that they spend their spare time online (Gitnux)
- When it comes to YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, 35% of teens say they are using at least one of them “almost constantly” (Pew Research Center)
- A large majority of teens have access to digital devices, such as smartphones (95%) and desktop or laptop computers (90%) (Pew Research Center)
The Online Shopping Habits of Gen Z
In the age of smartphones and social media, shopping has taken on a whole new dimension for Gen Z. Born into a world where technology is an extension of themselves, it’s no surprise that Gen Z has embraced online shopping and turned platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat into virtual marketplaces. In fact, 32% of Gen Z consumers shop online at least once a day and 43% start product searches on TikTok (The Current). Let’s take a look at other trends we’re seeing in the world of Gen Z.
Seamless Shopping at Their Fingertips
For Gen Z, convenience is the name of the game. With mobile devices always within arm’s reach, they’ve taken advantage of mobile payments and digital wallets to streamline their purchasing process. Whether it’s using Apple Pay, Cash App, or other options, checking a wallet or purse for cash or cards is a thing of the past.
- 73.1% of Gen Z mobile wallet users utilized Apple Pay to complete an in-store purchase during one week (Tech Jury)
- 53% of people use digital wallets more often than traditional payment methods (Forbes)
- Venmo, Apple Pay, and Cash App are increasingly used by Gen Z, with one in three Gen Z’s having used these services for purchases last year (Simplicity)
- Usage of Venmo (33%), Apple Pay (31%), Cash App (33%), and Paypal (30%) is similar among Gen Z (Simplicity)
Gen Z doesn’t just stick to one platform or method when shopping. They’ve embraced omnichannel shopping like true pros. They might start their product research on Instagram, watch unboxing videos on YouTube, compare prices on various ecommerce websites, and then finally make the purchase using a mobile payment app as mentioned above.
“Buy Now, Pay Later”
Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services like Afterpay and Klarna allow consumers to split their payments into manageable installments, making big-ticket items more accessible. This approach resonates well with Gen Z’s financial sensibilities, giving them a degree of control over their spending.
- Forty-eight percent of Gen Z consumers said they used BNPL for purchases from Oct. to Dec. 2022. Of those, 20% said they used a BNPL service more than three times (NCR)
According to a recent Tinuiti Study, Gen Zers are frequent participants of loyalty programs, with at least ¾ of those studied across beauty, food and beverage, and OTC health surveys saying they’ve joined at least one loyalty program. 28% of Gen Zers said they had joined more loyalty programs to get special offers or discounts as a result of product price inflation, the highest of any generation.
- While in-store shopping still had its appeal, a significantly higher preference for hybrid buying methods was evident among millennials and Gen Z shoppers, registering at 30% and 36% respectively (Statista)
- When it comes to spending, Gen Z tends to prioritize their favorite brands, as 64% of them express a willingness to pay a premium for shopping with brands they hold loyalty towards (Insider Intelligence)
Using Social Media for Product Research & Discovery
Rather than scouring the Internet for product information and reviews, Gen Z relies heavily on social media for product research and discovery. TikTok is the new place to start a search and according to our recent study, Gen Zers are naturally much more likely to use TikTok than older generations, with 64% of Gen Z daily internet users saying they use it at least monthly.
Other findings from our study show:
- Greater use of TikTok has also instilled a greater sense of trust in the platform for Gen Zers, as 13% chose it as the social platform they most trust to protect online consumer privacy, compared to just 3% of Boomers (Tinuiti Gen Z Study)
- Among beauty, food and beverage, and OTC health shoppers, more than ¾ of Gen Z respondents recalled buying a product in the last year based on the recommendation of an online influencer, far outpacing other generations (Tinuiti Gen Z Study)
Gen Z Values Sustainable Brands
Gen Z’s approach to shopping is focused on quality over quantity. This generation places a premium on products that offer genuine value and longevity. They are drawn to brands that align with their environmental and ethical values, and they seekout sustainable and socially responsible options that resonate with their views.
- 74% of Gen Z CPG shoppers across all three product categories studied said that the values and beliefs of CPG brands were at least moderately important to deciding which products to purchase, the highest share of any generation (Tinuiti Gen Z Study)
- 54% of Gen Z will pay 10% more on a sustainable product, compared to 50% of millennials and just 23% of Baby Boomers (Forbes)
- 75% of Gen Z consumers have said that sustainability is more important than brand name when making a purchasing decision (Sustainability Magazine)
Summarizing Gen Z’s Shopping Behavior
The youngest generation of adults has extreme buying power. They are looking for seamless shopping experiences, relevant ads, and brands that align with their values.
Is your brand keeping up with their demands? More than ever, marketers need to understand what Gen Zers are looking for in today’s world. If you’d like more insight into Gen Z, contact us today or access Tinuiti’s latest study: From A to (Gen) Z for more information on this topic.