What Gen Z Really Wants from Retailers

By Nicole Leinbach

With 68.6 million Generation Z individuals in the United States, their importance is an understatement when it comes to making them a priority and marketing to Gen Z.

Brands and retailers alike need to consider what motivates Gen Z consumers to shop with one merchant versus another, how they prefer to make transactions, and what persuades them to stay loyal — or not — regarding where they shop.

Representing those born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is unlike any generation seen before. Exploding Topics shares some of this generation’s top concerns, interests, and priorities. They include:

  • Climate change is Gen Zers’ greatest fear.
  • More than a third of social media influencers are from Gen Z.
  • 64% of Gen Zers use Instagram at least once per day.
  • 40% of Gen Zers want to leave their current job within the next two years.

The Z Suite is an exclusive network of diverse Gen Zers who serve as some of the most powerful voices in the consumer space. Conversations with them show their insight is revealing, honest, and the reality check many retail operators — possibly even you — need to hear to better accommodate this influential group of customers.

More marketing advice 9 tips: Click here

Marketing to Gen Z: The Path to Purchase

All consumers have choices when it comes to navigating where and why they want to shop. Keeping this in mind, Gen Z customers take twists and turns on their paths to purchase that may not be what one would expect.

Clay Lute, a 21-year-old student at LIM College in New York City, is led by the idea of investment. “When I consider making a purchase, I ask myself if I need this item. And can I afford it? Plus, I evaluate if it is something I will benefit from short term or will it spark joy for me multiple times,” he said.

Raanya Siddiqui, a 22-year-old student at Emory University, said her purchases are based on experiences or needs coming up in her life. “I would say that my typical path to purchase is definitely occasion-based. It would likely be a gift for a special occasion, such as birthdays, weddings, graduation, etc.,” she said. “I would start looking for ideas online, most likely. Some sources I frequently rely on are Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, alongside viewing online reviews. If I am preparing to make a purchase ahead of time, I would make an online order, which would drastically increase my choices. However, if this is a last-minute purchase, I would likely go to a physical store.”

Read this story and more in the magazine, January 2023 issue

Lauren Klein, a 21-year-old senior at Stetson University in Florida, calls Colorado home when not in school, and she reinforced this way of thinking.

My path to purchase may seem somewhat unconventional to some; however, in the social media world we live in today, I think my process is similar to many individuals my age. Most of the time while I am swiping through different social media platforms that include Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, I will usually find some type of product or service I like enough to have the desire to purchase,” Klein said. “I will then either specifically search the item on my own, or if there is a page promoting the item, I can search the product through that web or social media page. Sometimes when ‘influencers’ are promoting the product, I will specifically search their ‘LTK,’ otherwise known as ‘Like to Know,’ where I can purchase the product from a link that is specifically through their page. This makes it easy for me to make purchases during my social media experiences, and I trust the platform to confidently use it as well.”

With social media clearly a destination where purchase decisions begin for many Gen Zers, it is important that retail decision-makers prioritize social media as a connectivity point to these customers. Incorporating social commerce platforms, such as Like to Know and CommentSold, can help businesses achieve this, ultimately creating path-to-purchase experiences that do not end in collisions but instead transactions.

The rest of this article can be seen only by subscribers who are logged in.
Have a website login already? Log in and start reading now.
Never created a website login before? Find your Customer Number (it’s on your mailing label) and look for First Time Registration top-right after clicking the link above.
Still have questions? Contact us here.