Generation Z: Shopping Trends
Current trends related to Generation Z’s shopping habits include: Shopping preferences and habits that differ from other generations, preferences for both traditional and non-traditional shopping and merchandise retrieval, preferences for being unique from – yet interacting with – their social groups, and preferences for brands that share their values.
GEN Z SHOPPING HABITS & PREFERENCES DIFFER FROM OTHER GENERATIONS’
- Generation Z’s primary motivators for shopping and their approach to shopping differs from other generations. Experts state that Gen Z’s should not be thought of as “Millennials 2.0” but as a distinct and unique group with their own beliefs, preferences, and habits.
- Gen Z’s preferred shopping avenue is through a retail store in-person, similar to other generations, however, around 75% of this group uses their smartphones to shop online – more so than any of the other generations. Additionally, 63% of them report using their laptops for online shopping, also more than any other generation. Of note, more Gen Z women (55%) prefer in-store shopping than men (40%).
- Getting the best price is the primary motivator for Gen Z shoppers, who are practical shoppers and generally fiscally responsible, more so than the two generations previous to them. Because of the focus on price, they are less likely to be loyal to brands, unless they know the brand to sell their high-quality wares at fair prices.
- This generation is leading the drive away from fast-fashion retailers who constantly push out new designs, and toward fashion and clothing options that are more sustainable, as environmental concerns are highly important to this group.
- This generation also spends more on airline flights for travel ($3827) than other generations spend, with travel expenditures being the third biggest pieces of their budgets (behind retail and food/drug store purchases). Of note, they spend more than three times that amount ($9983) on retail and retail-related purchases – more than any other generation spends on retail purchases.
- For their retail purchases, Gen Z shoppers spend an average of $2133 a year shopping at warehouse clubs, also more than any other generation. Additional large pieces of their retail budgets include spending an average of $1996 on home improvement store purchases, nearly $1900 on mass merchandise purchases, and about $1200 each on both apparel and department store purchases.
- Of note, this generation of shoppers prefers to pay for purchases in cash (or with debit cards) more so than any other generation, with about 77% reporting these methods as primary for them.
TREND: GEN Z PREFERS TRADITIONAL SHOPPING WITH A TWIST
- High quality and value for the price in the products they purchase rank second (below price) in motivators for making purchases and those in this generation are willing to pay more for quality no matter the brand.
- Because of this drive for fairly-priced, high-quality merchandise - combined with the desire to always show something new or different to their peers, Gen Z’s have taken over what Gen Xers started – and have fueled significant growth in companies that offer resale clothing or rental clothing options. Both purchasing gently-used clothing and renting clothing allows these shoppers to continually have something new to wear while maintaining their drive to be socially conscious.
- Similar to other generations, the majority of Gen Zs (about 80%) prefer shopping in stores over any other method. Generation Z shoppers frequent retail establishments, with about 60% reporting visiting a mall within the past week, and almost 90% of them making a purchase while in the mall. Although 23% of Gen Zs report making all purchases online, most (two-thirds) are more interested in the immediacy of shopping via traditional methods.
- Although this traditional method of shopping is similar to the way other generations shop, Gen Zs are champions of BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and other non-traditional retrieval-of-merchandise methods (like drop-off lockers, for example). Over 58% of Gen Z shoppers reported using these non-traditional retrieval methods within the past month.
- Additionally, about 20% of Gen Zs report using BOPIS methods (or using the store’s website) for verifying a purchase is available in-store before traveling to the store, with an additional 30% reporting they use these non-traditional methods due to their propensity for last-minute shopping.
- Of other non-traditional retrieval methods, storage locker drop-off-points are also frequently used by this generation, with 60% reporting that this feature (or not having it) was a factor in deciding where to purchase an item (based on wanting the item more quickly than it could be gotten from an online retailer without this option).
TREND: THEIR NEED TO STAND OUT FROM THEIR FRIENDS, BUT BE WITH THEM REFLECTS IN THEIR SPENDING
- Shopping second-hand stores or renting clothing for short-term use also offer Gen Z shoppers the opportunity to continually change their looks – expressing their individual identities, which is very important to this demographic.
- This need to show their uniqueness and style also plays into the top reason (behind making purchases) that Gen Z shoppers prefer to shop in stores – the social engagement with friends and others. Of note, more than 30% reported having gone to a store to shop with friends at least once a month “just for fun”.
- This group prefers social media channels that are visual, like Instagram and Snapchat, and prefer to receive their shopping/purchasing-related communications via these types of visual channels. They also prefer to share their purchases across these channels, to extend the shopping experience into a social one.
- This generation grew up having every aspect of their lives documented via social media and photographs, and the appearing successful to their social and peer groups is important to them. In this way, their retail purchases, especially clothing, reflect the need to remain socially impressive to their peers (offline and online).
TREND: SHARED VALUES & TRUST MATTER IN THE BRANDS THEY PURCHASE
- Gen Z shoppers are not brand-loyal as a whole but will show higher loyalty to brands that have fair prices, high-quality merchandise, and that share the Gen Z’s values. 18% of Gen Z shoppers stated that they are more likely to make purchases from a brand that shares their values.
- Gen Z shoppers inherently distrust brand communications, direct advertising, and demand authenticity and trustworthiness from the brands they buy. Brands demonstrating transparency and genuineness will earn higher degrees of loyalty from this generation.
- As the only generation who has never lived without the internet, they are a highly-informed group and are skeptical until they have verified online that a brand or potential purchase is a worthy investment. Of note, nearly 40% of Gen Z shoppers report having boycotted a brand for their political or social stances.
- This generation also relies more heavily (than other generations) on word-of-mouth advertising and influencer testimonials. Their purchasing decisions are more heavily influenced by their peers (both in real life and online) than on marketing or other factors. They choose influencers who share their values.
- In fact, 41% of Gen Z adults report that ratings and consumer reviews are highly important to them when making purchasing decisions, with this reflecting on their reliance on word-of-mouth advertising.
To identify the most current trends for Generation Z’s shopping habits, we scoured expert reports and articles for what those in the industry considered to be trends. In ensuring we were finding the most current data and to meet client requirements, we filtered our data and information to include only statistics and data released in the last six months (most of 2019).
From this collection of expert trends, we pulled only those which had been identified by 2-3 experts, and which correlated with your specific needs (like, spending categories, preferences, purchasing power, choice of shopping locations). We then synthesized the compilation into four major trends, which we have outlined with supporting details.