Generation Z has quickly become an incredibly important demographic for brands and retailers. According to a Barkley report, Gen Z—specifically those aged 16-24—has a total spending power of $143 billion. That means this group is expected to contribute billions of dollars in retail sales, spending a combination of earned income and allowance.
Furthermore, there are an estimated 50 million or more Gen Zers in the U.S. No matter what way you slice it, Generation Z is a must-have demographic for nearly all brands and retailers. There is just too much potential to ignore this cohort.
Keep reading to learn how you can drive revenue with Gen Z sales, looking at best practices and Wiser data. Don’t forget to also check out advice from an actual Gen Zer on what this generation wants from their in-store experience.
Let’s get started!
What Motivates Gen Z to Buy
Wiser polled its mystery shoppers who fit into the Generation Z demographic. We asked about their motivations, dislikes, buying behavior, and more.
According to our survey, the top three reasons why Gen Z will buy a product are:
- Strong promotions and sales (35 percent)
- Good reviews (24 percent)
- Easy returns and exchanges (18 percent)
Compare these pros to reasons why Generation Z doesn’t buy:
- Shipping costs are too high (51 percent)
- Negative reviews (18 percent)
- Poor customer service and return policies (14 percent)
You quickly see that there is overlap between what makes a good experience and a poor one. To sum it up, Generation Z wants good deals, flexibility with returns, and high-quality products. These are typically all tasks on a company’s to-do list, but based on our survey these areas should get your attention before addressing other items.
61% of Gen Z has made a purchase directly from a social media platform or based on information shared on social media.
The Impact of Social Media on Gen Z Behavior
It’s no surprise that social media plays a major role in the buying behavior of Generation Z. But just how big?
According to our poll, 61 percent of Gen Z has made a purchase directly from a social media platform or based on information shared on social media. Out of the most popular channels, Gen Z is making these decisions on Facebook (54 percent) and Instagram (50 percent).
Today, many Gen Zers are also closely following social media users known as “influencers.” Think of influencer marketing as just another channel of traditional marketing, such as paid media, organic search, or public relations. In practice, influencers create social media posts that are either advertisements or more subtle promotions of a brand, such as posing with a water bottle or talking about a skin-care routine.
Based on our Wiser data, this influencer trend is big with Gen Z. The most popular social platform for following influencers is Instagram, with 50 percent surveyed saying they use their Instagram accounts to engage with these power users. Close behind was Facebook at 31 percent.
Gen Zers and Loyal, Custom Shopping Experiences
Social media is still just one channel, however. For a truly excellent selling strategy for Generation Z, there are some elements that you should include across all channels.
A big one is loyalty. Young people in general value loyalty, especially from preferred brands and retailers. For example, 90 percent of our survey audience currently use or would use a loyalty program. When asked why, 89 percent said loyalty programs are great because of the perks—such as free gifts, reward points, and exclusive sales.
In addition, 70 percent of our Gen Zers were OK sharing personal data with brands and retailers if it meant that data would be used to improve their shopping experiences. That includes targeted advertisements relevant to their interests.
Engage with Gen Z on Their Terms
To summarize where we stand, Generation Z cares the most about the following:
- Competitive prices
- Easy returns, exchanges, and shipping
- Quality products
- Opinions of social media influencers
- Loyalty and rewards from brands and retailers
Each of these elements can be achieved through various means. For instance, your brand may want to focus on creating promotions and sales events to drive Gen Z revenue. Or, you optimize your fulfillment process to provide more flexible shipping options. Some brands are spending money on micro-influencers—anyone with social media followers between 1,000 and 100,000—as there is often better ROI here than going after a big-name celebrity.
Overall, engage with Gen Z on their terms, but in a way that makes sense for your business. The good news is that locking in on these factors should help you capture more sales from this powerful demographic.