The Salesmark

Understanding Gen Z Shopping Trends

2 min read
Gen Z

Gen Z actively seeks out in-store experiences, relevance, and newness while shopping, which is shaping their spending habits. 

Gen Z is currently the generation most interested in shopping, but they are careful about how they spend their money, according to an exclusive survey of 1,300 Vogue and GQ readers in the US. Key findings show that this audience segment is engaged with their brands while searching for newness. They are eager to discover new trends that keep them fashion-forward. 

The survey of 18 to 65-year-old Americans sought to understand both shopping and paying behaviors to gain better insight that companies need to consider when engaging today’s consumers.

Gen Z’s shopping behavior is critical to understand because this generation is the newest to join the workforce and has immense purchasing power. They are willing to shop across channels, have an appetite for higher-quality items, and are eager to stay on top of cultural trends. At the same time, they have some frugal tendencies. 70 percent of Gen Z said they are monitoring their spending more closely as a result of the pandemic, meaning brands will have to earn their place in Gen Z wallets.

Brands must engage Gen Z audiences online and offline

Gen Z is a truly omnichannel generation, shopping wherever best suits them in the moment and without preference as to the vehicle they use to find what they want. They are 56 percent more likely to have shopped for fashion in-store over the last three months and 38 percent more likely to have shopped online in the same timeframe. 

COVID-19 accelerated a generation’s worth of shifts to digital, and consumers will not revert. Digital is more than just a sales channel. It is a way to build connections and community. 

Online communities can also translate to purchases. TikTok’s #TikTokFashionMonth challenge helped inspire Gen Z to shop. Analytics reveals that the hashtag garnered 5.5 billion views.

Gen Z is highly optimistic about in-store and online purchases. They are 50 percent more likely to want to shop for more fashion in physical stores, compared to respondents from across age groups. 

The power of digital allows business leaders to serve personally, at scale, around the world. 

Gen Z has an appetite for high quality products

One in five of all respondents have used buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) solutions since the start of the pandemic to buy more expensive, higher-quality products, including 22 percent of Gen Z respondents.  Fintech giant PayPal is seeing an increase in those wanting to buy higher-priced fashion items. 

Buy-Now, Pay-Later solutions are helping to convert sales. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 123 percent more Gen Z buyers have used BNPL than before. This is the strongest uptake of any generation. In April 2021, one-third of Gen Z said they are likely to use BNPL solutions in the future.

The product most commonly bought throughout the pandemic using BNPL has been shoes. Sneakers are the item that Gen Z reports willingness to invest in the most. Sales of shoes and sneakers saw a 59 percent uplift from August 2020 to April 2021. 

Secondhand products are now in vogue

Meanwhile, Gen Z’s frequency of shopping for new items is being disrupted by secondhand, a market that Gen Z respondents are 27 percent more likely to shop.

Preloved and vintage platforms, such as Depop, are arguably slowing the cycle of new purchases, with customers enjoying lots of different trends and items and then passing them on.

Gen Z is trying to balance a desire for reasonable prices with an interest in high-quality products. 

Cross-channel retail is the new normal

Cross-channel retail capabilities also play a significant role in driving purchases. Although people miss shopping in physical stores, simultaneously, everyone loves the conveniences that online retail offers: online exclusives and easy returns. 

Mental health and wellness a priority

Gen Z also makes purchases to stay relevant and lift their mood. Mental health and wellness are of paramount concern for this generation of shoppers. For fitness, the pandemic has highlighted the changing role of sport in our lives.  

Closing thoughts

This generation is an extremely one, and they are poised to continue to drive cultural change on so many fronts — including consumption behavior.

Also read: Your Guide To Building Your Brand

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