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.

When did you start buying things using your smarphone?

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.

Gen Z is a cross-channel consumer.

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…

How much do you currently spend with Amazon each month?

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.

Gen Z is more sustainable than Millennials.

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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