Generation Z is the demographic group succeeding Millennials and preceding generation Alpha.
The mid-to-late 1990s are usually used as starting birth years, and the early 2010s as ending birth years for Gen Z.
So what’s so different about Generation Z?
Well, we’re seeing a real shift in values for this demographic group. Gen Zers crave authenticity and purpose. They are looking to engage with companies who align with their own values, have a real mission, and are trying to do good in today’s society.
So how does this impact their shopping habits and how can brands adapt to this new demographic? In this article, we take a look at Gen Z’s expectations and behavior, and find out how this new generation is shaping the future of shopping.
Looking at Gen Z’s shopping habits
1. Convenient shopping
There is no doubt that social and mobile technologies have changed consumers’ shopping habits and expectations.
Today’s consumer expectations often include an omni-channel customer experience. An omni-channel presence matches messaging and ensures there’s no disconnect across channels. Brands with a disjointed message across digital and traditional channels (commonly known as a multi-channel approach) could end up losing ground in the market.
Gen Z is a true omni-channel generation. Their shopping behavior shows that they like to buy wherever best suits them, and with no particular channel preference. As part of this, Gen Z also seems to have shifted back to brick-and-mortar shopping, while millennials have moved much more towards an online approach.
That doesn’t mean Gen Zers are no longer interested in online shopping. In fact, they enjoy using different types of channels for a more holistic experience; they might browse a product online, purchase it later on through a retargeting ad on social channels, or go directly to the shop to buy it.
So while their interest in high street shops is bigger than Millennials', browsing online and the flexibility of omni-channel experiences is very much appreciated by this new generation of consumers.
2. Better quality products
There’s no doubt that the rise of new payment methods such as buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) have empowered younger consumers (22% of Gen Zers) to buy more. But that’s not the only reason Gen Zers like to use this form of payment.
A survey found that product quality was amongst the three characteristics that establish trust in a brand amongst Gen Zers, along with positive reviews and customer service. New forms of payment such as BNPL can help Gen Zers buy more expensive and better quality products.
As well as new payment options, Gen Z is also exposed to other ways of buying higher quality products, such as second-hand shopping. As established earlier, Generation Z tends to engage with brands that have a real mission, and are trying to do good in today’s society. This new shopping habit probably comes from a desire to protect the planet and break out of the fast fashion cycle. In fact, today, 27% of Gen Zers say that they’re more likely to shop on preloved and vintage platforms.
3. New consumer buying behavior
It’s safe to say that Generation Z has very different shopping habits than other generations before. Gen Z’s buying behavior shows that they like to stay relevant to current trends, and make purchases to lift their mood.
They no longer need to shop just once a week, or even once a month. The rise of new social media platforms and influencer marketing has completely shifted the way that this new generation buys. In fact, they like to make smaller purchases, more often – sometimes more than once a week.
Traditional advertising isn’t as efficient as it used to be. Gen Zers prefer to look to their peers for inspiration, and tend to trust other consumers’ opinions more than what brands have to say about themselves.
How eCommerce businesses can convert more Gen Z consumers
1. Prioritize omni-channel experiences
With bigger companies now playing on both fronts, it’s important for smaller businesses to break down the online/offline mentality and create a seamless flow from store to online for Gen Zers to use throughout their buying journey.
In 2022, shopping has become a 24/7 activity that is easily done through a multitude of devices. Everything is interactive, and when it comes to meeting Gen Z consumers’ omni-channel needs, the storefront is no exception.
By providing great experiences both online and offline, retailers can make shopping more enjoyable for their customers. One of the best ways to do this is by integrating their digital presence to their brick & mortar shops.
Following the omni-channel trend can truly help brands improve the in-store shopping experience by offering additional information consumers might need within easy reach. This creates a unified experience that allows Gen Zers to engage with a brand faster and consider purchasing from a retailer, regardless of channel.
2. Adopt new payment methods, both online and in-store
Did you know that 24% of consumers abandon their transactions at checkout because the retailer doesn’t offer their preferred payment choices?
A study found that Gen Zers currently anticipate reducing their use of debit cards from 35% now to 26%, and credit cards from 16% now to 14%. Cash is also in rapid decline, with only 22% of Generation Z admitting that they would continue to use cash for future purchases.
There’s no doubt that the last two years have hastened the shift towards digital payments. As a result, Gen Z is more likely to embrace some of the following payment options:
- Buy now, pay later apps.
- Wallet services and contactless payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Paypal.
- Peer-to-peer payment apps.
Adapting to new shopping habits means having to cater to different customers, with different needs and different expectations, such as the new Generation Z. Multiple payment options ensure your larger audience is taken care of and that their expectations are met.
3. Make transparency and authenticity your top priorities
Members of Generation Z are, generally speaking, a bit more of a skeptical crowd. Their ability to verify anything online over the years has made it a lot harder for brands out there to earn their trust. That’s why Gen Z admires and looks for brands that value transparency, honesty and authenticity.
It’s clear that Gen Z have developed different shopping habits than their predecessors; Gen Zers like supporting businesses that they believe in and that reflect their own personal ethos and values.
Brands that understand the importance of honesty and transparency and can adapt to Gen Z’s new needs and expectations are more likely to earn their loyalty in the long run, while other businesses risk being left behind.
So, why not look into becoming a more transparent business this year, while learning from your Gen Z customers? It's quick and easy, sign up for free below.