Generation Z continues to puzzle marketers and businesses to this day. Since Gen Z consumer behavior is unlike any other generation, marketers and brands need to consider every move to connect with them. While digital marketing is the right step, you need to be strategic with how you interact with them and attract them to your brand.

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z, or Generation Z, is known as the generation of people born in the late 1990s to early 2000s. The exact years always differ depending on the source, but researchers and the media mostly agree with the late 1990s until the early 2010s.

Because of this, they’re usually known as “digital natives” or the first “social generation”. They were born at a time when access to the Internet has been available all their lives, especially for the younger ones. Generation Z succeeds Millennials and precedes Generation Alpha.

This generation altogether poses an interesting challenge to the consumer or retail industry, as these people are unique. The Internet and social media are a big part of their daily lives; they’ve lived through a couple of historical events already (a global pandemic being the most recent one); they’re ethnically diverse; they’ve formed their own pop cultures and subcultures; and the older ones in the generation are already in the workforce. Understanding Gen Z consumer behavior and engaging with them with digital marketing will take some trial and error.

Are Gen Z the biggest consumers?

Gen Z has an incredible influence when it comes to being consumers. In the United States alone, this generation makes up 40% of consumers. It’s also reported that by 2026, Generation Z will surpass millennials as the largest consumer base in America.

Bloomberg also reported that this generation has over $360 billion of disposable income. Most people would think that Gen Zs are too young and have no buying power. While this may be true for younger Gen Zs who are still in school and have no financial independence yet, the older Gen Zs are already in the workforce and have been saving money and investing. The challenge for brands and businesses now is getting Gen Z to buy and spend.

Why target Gen Z consumers?

Businesses need to start giving their Gen Z audience enough and proper attention. They have huge buying power that is backed by unique trends and shopping habits. Ignoring them or not implementing proper Gen Z marketing strategies will be a significant oversight.

Here are a few reasons why businesses should target Gen Z consumers:

  • Large and Growing Market: Gen Z is a substantial demographic group, comprising millions of people worldwide. They are currently entering the workforce and have increasing purchasing power. Thus, they represent a sizable and growing market.
  • Long-Term Customer Loyalty: Building brand loyalty early in a consumer’s life can lead to long-term customer relationships. The National Retail Federation’s study revealed that 66% of Gen Z respondents will stick to buying from a favorite brand for a long time. Capturing Gen Z’s attention and loyalty now can pay off in the future as they continue to age and their spending power increases.
  • Influence on Family Spending: Gen Z members often have influence over their family’s spending decisions, especially younger ones. They can sway their parents and older family members toward products or brands they approve of, making them valuable influencers within their households.
  • Tech-Savvy: Gen Z grew up with technology present all their lives. This makes them highly tech-savvy consumers for tech-savvy or tech-focused brands. They are early adopters of new products and are likely to engage with brands through digital channels. This makes digital marketing and e-commerce crucial for reaching them.
  • Preference for Authenticity: Gen Z consumers value authenticity in brands. They are skeptical of traditional advertising and respond better to content and messages that feel genuine and relatable.
  • Mobile-First Generation: Gen Z is a mobile-first generation. Brands that optimize their online presence for mobile platforms, including mobile apps and social media, are more likely to engage with Gen Z consumers effectively.
  • Adaptability: Gen Z has shown an ability to adapt quickly to new trends and technologies. Brands that can keep up with their changing preferences and innovate accordingly can maintain their relevance.
  • Trendsetters: Gen Z often sets trends that influence other age groups and generations. When they embrace a product, brand, or even a specific trend, it can have a ripple effect on older demographics, making them a valuable target for marketers and brands.
  • Feedback and Engagement: Gen Z is more likely to engage with brands within digital spaces and social media. They are known to provide feedback, ask questions, and share their experiences. This engagement can lead to valuable insights and opportunities for brands to adjust, develop better products, and build stronger relationships with the audience.

Overall, targeting Gen Z consumers makes sense because they represent a substantial and influential market with unique characteristics and preferences. Brands that can connect with them on a personal and authentic level, while addressing their values and interests, can stand to benefit from their loyalty and advocacy.

What are the Gen Z trends and shopping habits?

While connecting with Generation Z as an audience and customer base has its advantages, first you need to understand them a little better. They are unlike other generations, which means you have to market to Gen Z the right way. The same rules and digital marketing approach don’t easily apply to them. And if you’re not careful, you might lose their attention to your brand.

You need to research and understand the specific behaviors and preferences of Gen Z in your target market. They can vary across cultures, backgrounds, and interests, which can result in diverse Gen Z consumer behavior.

Here are some Gen Z trends, Gen Z characteristics, and as well as Gen Z shopping habits you need to consider:

#1 Online Shopping Dominance

Gen Z is known for its digital nativism. They grew up with the internet and are highly comfortable with the whole concept of online shopping. E-commerce platforms, mobile apps, and social media play a significant role in their shopping experiences.

#2 Social Commerce

Since they’re known as a mobile-first generation or social generation, it’s no surprise that Gen Z engages in social commerce. Forbes mentioned that 97% of Gen Z consumers say they use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration. This means they frequently discover and purchase products through social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. They trust recommendations from influencers, content creators, and peers and often shop directly through these apps.

#3 Sustainability Matters

Gen Z is environmentally conscious and values sustainability. According to First Insight, 73% of Generation Z consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. They are more likely to support brands that prioritize eco-friendly practices, ethically sourced materials, and social responsibility.

#4 Secondhand and Thrift Shopping

Many Gen Z consumers are drawn to thrift stores and secondhand shopping for both environmental and economic reasons. They like to feel special in their clothes while also saving money and being more environmentally friendly.

#5 Personalization

Gen Z expects personalized shopping experiences. They appreciate tailored product recommendations and are more likely to engage with brands that understand their preferences. This is also why e-commerce personalization is of the essence. A personalized shopping experience is necessary to engage with a generation of people who value connection.

#6 Mobile Wallets and Digital Payments

Gen Z is starting to prefer mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital payment platforms, especially with the rise of the pandemic. According to the 2022 State of Consumer Money Movement report, 77% of Gen Z consumers in the United Kingdom feel confident with contactless payments. It’s clear that cash is becoming less common in this generation.

#7 Brick-and-Mortar Experiences

While digital shopping dominates Gen Z trends, this generation still values in-person shopping experiences. In fact, 81% of them still like shopping in physical stores. This is because physical stores offer unique and interactive experiences. Pop-up shops or in-store events can attract Gen Z consumers.

#8 Brand Authenticity

Gen Z is highly attuned to authenticity when it comes to brands. They can quickly spot inauthentic marketing efforts and prefer brands that are transparent and genuine in their messaging.

#9 Online Reviews and User-Generated Content

Gen Z relies heavily on online reviews, ratings, and user-generated content when making purchase decisions. This is also significant for Gen Z consumer behavior since they are quite comfortable with online shopping. They trust the opinions and experiences of other consumers, so they read various online reviews and consider user-generated content before even purchasing a product.

#10 Mobile-First Approach

In a report by Business of Apps, 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gen Z consumers primarily use smartphones for shopping. Brands must have mobile-optimized websites and apps to provide a seamless and user-friendly shopping experience.

#11 Social Causes

Gen Z is socially conscious, even more so than other generations. Because of this, they value brands that support causes they care about, such as diversity, equality, and social justice. Brands that take a stand on these issues can resonate with Gen Z consumers.

#12 Digital Window Shopping

Gen Z enjoys browsing online marketplaces and products, even when they don’t intend to make an immediate purchase. Most of the time, they’re looking for certain inspirations first. They might add items to their carts and revisit them later.

#13 Influencers over celebrities

Another one of the interesting Gen Z characteristics is their preference for or trust in influencers or content creators rather than celebrities. In a survey conducted by Morning Consult, 63% of Gen Z say they trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. This is a stark difference from other generations, who grew up with celebrities promoting brands left and right.

Generation Z consumers are full of potential and can bring a lot of advantages for brands that have Gen Z in their sights. Study the Gen Z consumer behavior, and keep these Gen Z trends and habits in mind as you continue to formulate your digital marketing strategy.

Need more help with your marketing efforts? Talk to Twin Rams Media professionals today to learn how you can connect with your audience.