Gen-Z: Shopping expectations

Thursday 26 January 2023 
Elsa Benaiche Elsa Benaiche
4 minutes
Gen-Z: Shopping expectations

Gen-Z shoppers, sometimes called zoomers, were born between the end of the 90s and the early 2010s. Informed, connected and dedicated, they have very different expectations to Gen‑Y and have developed new shopping habits.

Enticing them towards your brand requires identifying their needs and really understanding how they shop.

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Discover 5 expectations specific to Gen-Z that brands need to take into consideration to remain competitive.

A unified shopping experience

While the previous generations spent a lot of time watching television, Gen-Z shoppers grew up with the Internet, they got their first Smartphone at age 121 on average and spend a large proportion of their time using it, and consequently 32% of their transactions2 are made through their phones.

Gen-Z - Smartphone

Despite the number of hours they spend on their Smartphones, they also frequently switch between the physical and digital worlds and still enjoy the instore experience. However, their expectations from physical stores are different to those of previous generations. For example, they do not want to be rushed by sales assistants and like to spend time roaming the store to check out new trends3 and to enjoy being in exceptional surroundings2.

For a business this requires using an omnichannel approach4 using physical and digital channels judiciously together. 88% of Gen-Z shoppers5 say they prefer using both which means that it is crucial to trigger their purchase when the time is right6 for them.

Ethics and eco-responsibility

Covid-19 crisis, environmental issues, global warming… This unprecedented situation has made Gen-Z shoppers highly aware of social and environmental issues.

In this context, 62% of them7 prefer to buy from brands that care about the environment and 54%7 are prepared to pay an additional 10%7 or more for eco-responsible products (only 34% of Gen-X shoppers7 and 23%7 of Baby Boomers).

Jumping on the band wagon, many brands are promoting their eco-friendly efforts and some go as far as greenwashing8 which is a fraudulent marketing strategy involving the over communication of a brand's eco-friendly image and products purely to boost sales.

But zoomers are wise to these strategies. They are well informed, and they research products before making informed purchasing decisions9. When a brand lacks authenticity, they are the first generation to notice and to report the incident.

To avoid these awkward situations, brands need to be transparent and provide shoppers with concrete proof of their commitments (ISO certifications, quality labels, rewards…). They must also prove their sincerity and provide precise and reliable information on their production processes and the origins of their products.

An optimal experience on social networks

Gen-Z shoppers use social network platforms (TikTok, Instagram, YouTube…) for a variety of reasons: searching for inspiration (97%10), checking out fun content (65%10), watching videos (61%10)… and they really know how to use their features (live broadcasts, filters, hashtags…).

On each social network that they use, they have a very short attention span (8 seconds11), have several accounts12, and adapt their manner of expression to the codes of each platform.

To grab their attention, brands need to be present on all their preferred social networks, prefer short videos: stories, reels, video clips… and adapt their content to the demands of each platform. It is also important to provide a seamless10 shopping process, limiting any potential distractions (pop-ups, redirection towards another page, advertising…).

Authenticity and transparency

Gen-Z shoppers grew up with the Internet and are confronted with advertising all the time.

They want to access authentic13 and entertaining13 advertising, rather than traditional ads. 71% of them14 do not appreciate brands that portray « the perfect life » which is so far from their reality.

To persuade them to buy, brands need to create ads showing real people in relatable situations: 80% of zoomers14 prefer this style of advertising. This means that authenticity is crucial to allow them to identify with specific situations and to imagine themselves using a product.

Diversity and inclusivity

Gen-Z shoppers grew up in a society in which everyone has a platform on the social networks15 to voice their opinions.

Gen-Z - Diversity and inclusivity

They tend to avoid any labels16 with which they don't identify and have high expectations in terms of social diversity: 48% of them17 respect brands that do not organize their products into « Male » and « Female » categories. They see shopping as a means of expressing their uniqueness and among other factors they appreciate limited editions18, one off collections18 and customizable products15...

In answer to this need for uniqueness, brands need to understand the particularities19 of each « audience sub-category » and send personalized and relevant messages to each of these sub-categories. Brands also need to showcase their commitment to increased diversity and inclusivity: this is a really important factor for 80% of zoomers20.

So, what have we learned? That Gen-Z grew up with the Internet and they were still young when faced with the pandemic and the environmental crisis. In this context, this generation of shoppers developed new habits: searching for inspiration on social networks, shopping on Smartphones, appreciating committed brands… and they want to have customized and authentic experiences.

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1 YPulse. (2022, March 29). 3 Stats on How Gen Z Is Being Raised on Smartphones.
2 Rapport Gen Z Ce que dit l'enquête Criteo Shopper Story. (2017).
3 Bouaziz, D. (2022, September 15). Qu'attend la génération Z en magasin ?
4 May, B. (2021, August 13). Marketing To Gen Z ? Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know. Forbes.
5 CMO Council & Pitney Bowes.Les canaux de prédilection.
6 Vogue Business for PayPal. (2021, August 20). Gen Z shopping trends uncovered. Vogue Business.
7 Petro, G. (2020, January 31). Sustainable Retail : How Gen Z Is Leading The Pack. Forbes.
8 Herpin, T. (2022, December 9). Comment identifier et éviter le greenwashing ? ECN | E-Commerce Nation.
9 Nowzari, M. (2022, May 3). How To Market to Gen Z With Brand, Community, and TikTok. Shopify.
10 Petro, G. (2021, April 30). Gen Z Is Emerging As The Sustainability Generation. Forbes.
11 Kastenholz, G. & (2021, May 17). Gen Z Is Emerging As The Sustainability Generation. Forbes.
12 OC&C Strategy Consultants & VIGA. Génération Z La Génération sans frontières.
13 Hirose, A. (2022, November 3). Marketing to Gen Z : How to Get It Right in 2023. Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard.
14 Chevalier, J. & Les Experts du Siècle. (2021, November 23). Fini la publicité, les Gen-Z veulent du « User Generated Video ».
15 Marriault, C., & Vairet, F. (2021, March 29). Narcissiques, matérialistes, désinformés... Ces clichés à démonter sur la génération Z.
16 Kim, K. (2021, July 27). How to make sure you're marketing to Gen Z the right way. Sprout Social.
17 Francis, T., & Hoefel, F. (2018, November 12). ‘True Gen' : Generation Z and its implications for companies. McKinsey & Company.
18 Mitrofanoff, K. (2019, January 24). Consommation : la génération Z se démarque des millenials. Challenges.
19 Talbot, P. (2021, March 23). Best Practices For Marketing To Gen-Z. Forbes.
20 Carrasco, M. (2022, March 1). Gen Z : Brands Need To Prioritize DEI And Gender Liberation. Forbes.

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