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Gen Z Shopping Habits & Trends: An Ecommerce Guide

April 25, 2022

A new generation of shoppers is reshaping traditional and digital commerce, and sellers need to keep up. Identifying and adapting to Gen Z shopping habits can set your business up for success.

Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z and Millennials are two different generations with distinct shopping habits. Millennials remember dial-up internet and paying 10 cents to send a text message. Gen Z shoppers were born after Amazon started selling books.

If you're still trying to catch up to Millenials' shopping preferences, you'll be behind the curve trying to meet Gen Z’s expectations. Let this post be your crash course in Gen Z consumer habits and what Gen Z shoppers expect from ecommerce stores.

Gen Who?

Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, iGeneration, or zoomers, is the generation that grew up around the transition from the 20th to 21st Century. Gen Z was born between the late 1990s and early 2010s. The Pew Research Center studies generational cohorts and said some things about Gen Z.

Gen Z is considered:

  • More racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations
  • The most well-educated generation in history
  • More concerned about the environment and social justice issues than previous generations
  • More digitally savvy than pre-internet generations

What Do Gen Z Shoppers Want?

Many Gen Zers are earning their first paychecks working part-time jobs in high school or are entering college or the workforce. The generation has a combined spending power of more than $140 billion. If your business wants to remain viable, you'll need to adjust to Gen Z shopping habits.

Gen Z shoppers value:

  • Authenticity. Gen Z shoppers place a higher value on brand authenticity and transparency. They want to buy from brands that support social causes they believe in.
  • Sustainability. This generation is more concerned about the environment and wants sustainable products and delivery models.
  • Quality. Their desire for sustainability drives Gen Z shoppers to look for quality products that will last longer. Be sure to do product research to find the best items for your store.
  • Affordability. Gen Z shoppers grew up during the Great Recession and witnessed their parents struggling with finances. Gen Z shoppers tend to be a bit more cautious with their spending, including being less likely than Millenials to purchase on credit.

Connecting Gen Z Shopping Habits and Values

Gen Z consumer habits are directly related to their values. While Gen Zers value affordability, competing on price alone won’t cut it for this generation.

Gen Z shoppers are more likely to question a cheap price. If the price seems too low, they may wonder if the quality is poor, the price results from unfair labor practices, or the product was made or shipped in a non-sustainable way.

Highlighting quality or sustainability features can help appeal to this new generation of shoppers.

Digital vs. Brick-and-Mortar Shopping Habits

Gen Z buyers are omnichannel shoppers. Gen Z shoppers rank websites as the top source for their purchase inspiration. But, social media, friends or family, and in-store shopping basically tied for second place.

Surprisingly, every older generation surveyed, from Millennials to the Silent generation, was less likely to rank in-store shopping at a brick-and-mortar store as an influence for making a purchase.

Gen Zers desire quality products that will last. They're willing to put in the research to find the best product. That research often starts online but can include brick-and-mortar stores as well.

Turning Social Inspiration into Purchasing Decisions

Social media also plays a role in Gen Z's shopping research. YouTube and Instagram take the top spots for Gen Z shoppers' social media use. Older generations tend to favor Facebook.

Due to the popularity of social media with Gen Z shoppers, influencer marketing will likely yield better results with this generation. Google found that 70% of teenagers who watched YouTube found YouTube creators and influencers more relatable than traditional celebrities. Adding influencer marketing into your tactics could help you reach Gen Z shoppers.

Gen Z's increased use of social media for research also means they're more likely to make social commerce purchases. Social commerce is the direct selling of goods and services over social platforms. For example, Instagram's shopping feature allows brands to tag and post their products for sale so users can click to buy the item.

Social commerce removes the friction of going to an ecommerce site and finding the product by keeping the transition inside the social platform. Given that Gen Z is more likely to listen to a social media influencer, investing in social commerce is a great way to reach the new generation of shoppers.

How Gen Z Shopping Habits Are Changing Ecommerce

Gen Z is already making an impact on the ecommerce industry. In our list of the top ecommerce trends to watch in 2022, several were directly related to Gen Z shopping habits.

Trends you can link to Gen Z include:

  • Social media driving sales
  • Environmental concerns influencing buying decisions
  • Growth of omnichannel shopping
  • Increasing effectiveness of video as an ecommerce marketing strategy.

To be successful with Gen Z shoppers, businesses don't need to abandon everything they're doing. In fact, many tactics that worked with earlier generations will work with Gen Z. Savvy business owners need to take a data-driven sales approach to analyze their current sales, customers, and marketing to determine what works and what needs tweaking.

Building an Ecommerce Store for Gen Z Shoppers

You need a well-designed and functional website no matter what generation of shoppers you serve. But your digital commerce experience is critical for adapting to Gen Z shopping habits. This generation grew up with the internet. They’re the first fully digital generation.

At Nexcess, we help ecommerce businesses deliver the best shopping experience with our innovative online store builder.

With StoreBuilder by Nexcess, you can launch your new site in days instead of months. Our store building engine will set up your store for you, so all you have to do is customize the look and start adding your products. Try StoreBuilder risk-free for 30 days.

Lindsey Miller
Lindsey Miller

Lindsey Miller knows WordPress inside and out. She has been working with WordPress since 2010 when she started her first WordPress blog. Since then she has attended WordCamps all over the world and had the honor of speaking at many WordCamps and other WordPress events such as WooSesh and WordFest. She is currently the owner of Content Journey, a content marketing agency that focuses on increasing organic website traffic for their clients through SEO and blogging.