New research: what Gen Z is buying — and why.

New research: what Gen Z is buying — and why.


Meet Mark.

He, and his friends, are in Gen Z. At less than 25, their generation is already on track to be the best-educated, yet. And, the most racially and ethnically diverse.1

Not to mention smartphone savvy. 

In fact, Gen Z has almost no memory of life before a smartphone. Mark’s whole upbringing was shaped by it. Last week, we talked to 200 Gen Zers, as they logged out of the Amazon app. And, at 11 to 13 years old, 36% already had a smartphone. Two years later, they started buying stuff.

Clearly, Gen Z is growing up differently. 

The disparities don’t stop there. That plastic in the palm of their hands has shaped every behavior of a generation. And will shape those that follow. To understand them, you need to step inside their smartphones.

Come on in, I’ll show you four major insights.

Insight #1: Gen Z is a cross-channel consumer.

Mark shops online, right?

Wrong. He’s a cross-channel consumer. An omnichannel consumer. In fact, 50% of his generation goes in-store as much as they go online. That’s why we trace their smartphone behavior…it goes everywhere they do.

Here’s what we see in-store.

Mark was raised by Gen X. His parents still shop in-store 40% of the time.2 For Mark, it’s nostalgic. In fact, 49% of Gen Z return online purchases to physical stores and 70% stick around to shop. 63% of that group will spend more in-store than the value of their return.

You said you usually stay and shop, do you spend MORE than the value of your return?

And, here’s what we found online.

For the 43% we surveyed, who prefer online shopping, 62% will use a smartphone to do it. That matters. A lot. Why? The younger your market is, the more you need app + web and brick + mortar insights. It’s the only way to talk to people like Mark, while their feedback is still fresh in their minds.

There’s more…

Insight #2: Gen Z likes a little luxury.

Here’s a neat little fact.

The majority of Gen Z spends $21 to $100 every month on Amazon, see below. While you may wonder how they can — when many are still in high-school, or college — here’s the truth…

This generation has cash.

Sure, they’re mindful of what they spend. Gen Z isn’t stocking up on travel, electronics, furniture, or cars. After all, they grew up in a recession, and are financially focused.3 

But, they do spend.

For 53%, that means paying a premium for products, as opposed to services. Especially in COVID, when services are scarce. They’d rather have something in hand, than their Millennial, experience-based counterparts would.4 And Gen Z would like their stuff to be premium. 

So, what are they buying?

Glad you asked.

Insight #3: Gen Z is more sustainable than Millennials.

Let’s look at Mark again.

He’s a conscious shopper. And, he’s not alone — 86% of Gen Z will purchase sustainable products at least occasionally. So, while everyone seems to think Millennials are the sustainable ones, it’s really Gen Z who’s supporting this movement. Check it out. They care about price, quality, and long-term value.

In fact, 85% will pay up to 30% more for sustainable products. Compare that to the 53% of Millennials who will pay 10% or more. That’s quite a lot. Gen Z seems to be setting a bar.

And, here’s what they’re buying — 73% want personal care products. They’re followed by 71% who buy sustainable clothing. 

Clearly, the marketing you do for Gen Z should focus on value, rather than price.

Insight #4: Gen Z is relatively easy to influence. 

So, where do you reach Gen Z?

Social media is one way, as 28% are likely to buy a brand based on an influencer. But, if you don’t have deep pockets for social media, don’t worry.

There’s much more — in word of mouth.

That’s right, focus on their family and friends — after all, that’s where they’re “relatively” easy to influence 😉. Sorry, I had to. And it’s true, 77% are more likely to follow a recommendation from a friend or family member.

So, while things certainly change from generation to generation. Some things stay the same. And, for now, it sounds like word-of-mouth (WOM) is still the most powerful form of marketing.5 Use it to influence your Gen Z target market, and if you need a little help with research, we’re just an email away.

For more Gen Z, Millennial or Representative research, contact us.   



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