Gen Z

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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.


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • 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).


  • 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.

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Generation Z: Entertainment Trends

Current trends related to Generation Z’s entertainment preferences include the expansion of the digital-human experience, forcing the adaptation of entertainment, news, and advertising options and content, and the globalization of entertainment options and content. Experts believe that members of Generation Z, having spent their whole lives in connectivity, “have become the internet’s most important trendsetters”.


  • This generation expects their entertainment experiences, especially their digitally-based ones, “to be deeply relevant, anticipatory, and seamlessly intertwined with their physical experience.”
  • Gen Zs have an 8-second attention span, fueled largely from being the first generation to only ever experience high-speed internet connectivity, as well as having the immediacy of having all their needs met with the touch of a few buttons or the swipes of a few screens.
  • They have grown up with sensory experiences connected to their content and entertainment consumption, like the tapping and swiping on smartphones. This is forcing news outlets, brands, and marketing companies to increase the content that is presented with sensory features.
  • 56% of Gen Zs prefer to use touch-based features on their connected devices, with only a third preferring to talk. Although interactive, typing on their devices was this group’s least favorite option of the three choices.
  • With a full 60% of this demographic navigating away from a website that loads too slowly, and with them being the only demographic to never experience the pains of dial-up connections, this generation is the least forgiving of any when it comes to technical issues or slow-loading. Additionally, they are the least forgiving with sites that are difficult to navigate.
  • This generation prefers their entertainment content (and even their ads) to be personalized and based on their preferences, and less concerned over the lack of privacy higher levels of personalization can foster. Additionally, two-thirds (67%) of those in the Gen Z demographic believe that websites should anticipate what they’re looking for, with 40% stating they would disengage from a site if it did not personalize their experience. =
  • The Gen Z demographic prefers interactions (over simple reading/non-interaction) in their social media channels, and uses Instagram, Snapchat, and FaceTime to interact with peers and brand/industry influencers (though each is used for a different purpose).
  • 47% of Gen Zs prefer to consume news that includes an element of interactivity, and especially news with virtual or augmented reality features. This generation is three times more likely than any other generation to rank “interaction” as the first or second most important feature of their news consumption, and four times more likely to rank “engagement” in one of those positions of importance.
  • This generation is more prone to want to take control of their time and how they spend it, with more than half (55%) most preferring options to “choose their own adventures” in their entertainment. 45% of this group also reporting liking the options of having control over the content of an entertainment feature (like a movie or TV show).
  • They also report being the most excited of any generation over embracing virtual reality-based entertainment, with around 60% stating they are likely to use VR (or have used it). As for expected near-future use of these technologies, 52% expect to use VR/AR for gaming and video experiences, 43% expect to use it for viewing movies, and 36% expect to use it for experiencing live events.


  • About half of Gen Zs spend 10 or more hours each day online, often across multiple devices. With 45% reporting being online “almost constantly” and an additional 44% reporting being online “several times a day,” this group has the highest level of engagement with entertainment and other online content than any other generation. This is a giant leap from three years ago, when only about 24% of this age group showed that level of engagement with online activities.
  • This level of lifetime engagement and connection to online activities and entertainment has decreased this group’s comfort levels with being unconnected from their devices and the internet, even for just a half-hour or so. Thus, companies wishing to gain and keep the attention of this demographic are seeing the need to keep their target audience as highly-engaged as possible as often as possible.
  • The average Gen Z spends about 11 hours each week talking and texting on their phones, with 59% using their smartphones to access entertainment, and 58% using the devices to play games (either alone or with friends) regularly. They spend an additional 23 hours streaming video content each week, with 71% of them watching three or more hours of videos every day; 71% also have a Netflix subscription. These figures are higher than any other generation, and show a significant increase over 2016 figures. With all this competition for Gen Z’s attention, companies need bolder, more-relevant ways to capture viewers.
  • Generation Z, also called the “digital native generation,” is similar to other generations in that about two-thirds of them view or hear more news than they choose to read; however, they differ from other generations in how and where they consume entertainment and news content. Of note, 74% of this generation stated that the majority of the news they consume is for “entertainment” purposes rather than informative purposes.
  • Those in Gen Z watch less TV (average 13.2 hrs/week) than any other generation ever has, forcing advertisers to find new avenues for reaching this audience directly. They prefer to consume entertainment and news content on sites like Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat, which are highly visual and often offer some interactive components. Nearly half (49%) of this demographic opts for Youtube as their primary or secondary source for news. Of note, this group reports that, over the next 3 – 5 years, their usage of Youtube for video-watching is likely to double.
  • This generation’s favorite apps include highly-interactive apps that allow them to create and share content, as well as view and interact with it, like Twitch, Reddit, TikTok, Imgur, Brat and Lomotif. 54% of Gen Zs have stated they are looking forward to seeing more personally “customized digital entertainment packages” that feature personalized, interactive experiences.
  • 35% of this group believes that UGC (user-generated content) “will have more credibility in three to five years than content that comes directly from a company or independent source.”
  • Of note, Facebook usage has fallen for this group over the last half-decade, from 71% in 2014 to 51% in 2018. Because of this, advertisers targeting this generation have needed to increase their presences on other more relevant social media and entertainment outlets to capture Gen Z attention.
  • Just over half (51%) of Gen Zs have installed ad-blocking software, which is a nearly 20% jump from 2017’s figures for this generation. Other experts note that, in the past 12 months alone, use of this type of software has increased by 41%.
  • This generation has a more-negative perception of advertising, though is more inclined to engage with marketing that is personalized or targeted directly to their likes and preferences. A large portion of this demographic (67%) is much more likely to prefer advertising that features real people or influencers, along with authentic and realistic narratives. They less prefer to see celebrities in advertisements. They respond more to campaigns that are highly-visual and edgier without being “trashy.”


  • 47% of America’s Generation Z demographic are ethnic minorities, making them the “most ethnically diverse in US history”. Additionally, this is the last generation in the US to hold a Caucasian majority, with Gen Z having “global aspirations, and drawing inspiration from all over the world.” Because of this, brands of all types, but especially entertainment brands, need to ensure their offerings as are diverse as their audience.
  • One study of Gen Zs in nine global countries (including the US) found that cheaply and easily-accessible technology, coupled with cheaper travel options, has had a “homogenizing effect” on this group all over the world. This effect has crossed multiple aspects of everyday life, including entertainment preferences and habits, and has made this group as a global unit more cohesive than any other group in any other generation.
  • Members of this generation are radically inclusive, and see very little difference in the friends they have online and those they see in their physical realms. With ease, they “flow between communities” that offer entertainment options they enjoy or that promote the causes most important in their lives. Over two-thirds of this generation state that they believe “communities are created by causes and interests” rather than backgrounds or geographic regions.
  • Gen Z’s favorite entertainment and viewing apps are global favorites, as well, including Twitch, Reddit, TikTok, and Imgur. (SOURCE 3)
  • 75% of this demographic wants to convert their avocations (free-time hobbies) into full-time vocations, with a full 60% seeking to “change the world” in some way.


To identify the most current trends for Generation Z’s entertainment 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 the requirements, we filtered our data and information to include only statistics and data released in the last six months (most of 2019). However, two of the sources we selected were from November 2018, and included highly-relevant information used as corroboration (or for completion of info presentation). Additionally of note, we kept a US focus to this request; however, one study we found (noted in Forbes) highlighted the vast similarities between US and global members of Generation Z, so we included several globally-based studies to supplement our findings.
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, how they spend their free time, favorite social media platform, etc). We then synthesized the compilation into three major trends, which we have outlined with supporting details.

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Generation Z: Mindset

Among the Gen Z generation, 42% feel happy, 36% think technology will solve the world's problems, 55% consider minor details when accepting a job, 54% feel stressed in their workplace, 67% value food nutrition, 14% deal with mental issues, and 48% consider themselves part of a minority group.




  • According to a study on Gen Z in the workforce, 55% of Gen Z take amenities in consideration when accepting a job offer.
  • These amenities include natural light in the office, outdoor spaces, rooftop lounges, nap rooms, among others.
  • They are also attentive to their salaries and 65% consider salary very important.


  • Among Gen Z students, 91% of college seniors said they felt physical or emotional symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and depression, some of it related to student loans and debts.
  • Additionally, 54% of Gen Z workers agree that they feel stress in their workplace.
  • According to JAMA Pediatrics, 1 in every 7 young adults and children (or 14%) experience mental health conditions (calculation for percentage in research strategy).
  • In reference to the balance between their work and personal life, 25% of Gen Z says they feel dissatisfied.
  • Their dissatisfaction is also related to their feelings of constant tiredness in the mornings.


  • Regarding their nutritional content, 67% of Gen Z take their diet and health into consideration when selecting food.
  • They are also conscious of the price of the food.
  • They differ from Millennials, who care more about the social impact of their foodstuff, rather than the cost.



We began our research by looking for news articles and market demographics that analyze the general mindset of Gen Z. To do this, we looked through credible publications written by experts on generational demographics. Once we found several studies that provided information on this topic, we narrowed our focus for hard facts and data that is evidence of the mindset of Gen Z's general optimism or pessimism, stress levels, feelings of happiness or anger, and general outlook on their lives and society. Furthermore, to provide each piece of hard data as a percentage, we made a calculation regarding the status of mental health among Gen Z. The calculation we made can be found below.


  • The research affirmed 1 in 7 members of Gen Z deal with mental issues.
  • In order to represent this in a percentage format, we calculated: 1/7 = 0,14 X 100 = 14%.

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