From the blog How Gen Z Is Changing Holiday Shopping Trends

It’s been said that Millennials are killing off in-store retail shopping. But the reasoning behind that accusation is often overblown and misunderstood. And even if it’s true, Millennials are not the only consumer demographic out there.

Generation Z (also known as Gen Z) has entered the market and represents some changing trends for the holiday and post-holiday seasons

Gen Z differs in several ways from previous generations. They have their own distinct needs and expectations. Reaching them means using new and different approaches.

There is no better time to engage with Gen Z than during the holidays when shopping is at its highest.

Who is Gen Z? 

Let’s start by taking a look at the Gen Z age bracket. While the specifics vary depending on the source, here’s the general breakdown of the most recent generations by birth year. 

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964 
  • Generation X: Born 1965 – 1976 
  • Millennials: Born 1977 – 1995 
  • Gen Z: Born after 1996 

While the youngest members of Gen Z may still be in school, the older members are graduating from college and entering the workforce. Most are still years away from the financial obligations of starting a family or owning a home, so their purchasing power is broader. 

Gen Z makes up just over a quarter of the US population, accounting for nearly 40% of consumer markets.

Gen Z is the most diverse age group in the country in terms of ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity. While they are in more consistent contact with each other thanks to social media, they also tend to feel more isolated due to fewer personal connections.

Gen Z is also the generation that grew up with smartphone technology. Mobile devices (like smartphones) are regularly used by a whopping 75% of Gen Z consumers. Laptop computers are used by 45%, and desktop computers by only 30%. 

Marketing to Gen Z 

How do you plan a marketing strategy to attract more Gen Z consumers? There are a few things to keep in mind.

While being the most interconnected generation, Gen Z also feels the most isolated and anxious. Many are concerned about the future both economically and environmentally. They are often overwhelmed by the 24-hour news cycle, and their fondness for online connections sometimes comes at a cost at developing more personal “real world” relationships.

Because of this, Gen Z leans toward preferences for gifts associated with crafting, travel, health, romance and shared entertainment. Fancy decorations and displays won’t speak as effectively to younger shoppers as more hands-on experiences such as product demonstrations, classes or other store events.

Focus on your physical store 

One way Gen Z deals with stress is to practice retail shopping therapy. They take comfort in shopping at physical store locations. In fact, 81% of Gen Z folks have a preference for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. 

Upgrade the customer experience 

If you’re looking for something you can do immediately to appeal more to more of Gen Z, consider your customer service.  

Sure, all customers want to have positive customer experiences. But Gen Z is more likely to be really tuned into the retail interactions. They want to feel like your staff is responsive. They much prefer to interact with live employees who appreciate their business.

Optimize the mobile phone experience

Gen Z shoppers may like physical stores, but they still shop online, too. Because they prefer mobile devices for their online interaction, it’s important for your business website to be mobile-friendly.  

If your business uses coupons or a loyalty program, it’s a good idea to integrate these into your website.  

Reflect diversity 

If you’re serious about going after Gen Z, you need to make sure your business reflects diversity.

  • Make sure any advertising materials include a range of ethnicities and genders.
  • What may have been gender-conforming products in the past are not necessarily seen that way now. Beware of excluding half your potential market by promoting an item like it’s only for men or women. 
  • Families come in many forms. It’s best to be inclusive.

Do social media right 

Social media marketing is changing. Facebook isn’t the top player anymore. Snapchat is moving into the spotlight. And Instagram is making waves for being both simple and reliable.  

What does that mean?

If you’re relying on your business’s Facebook page to drive your social media marketing, you may not be reaching the majority of Gen Z. While they may check out a Facebook page to get basic info like your location or business hours, they aren’t going on Facebook to see what new products you’re promoting. Gen Z uses Twitter to get news and share promotions from businesses they’re interested in, but it’s still not the primary place for them to engage in products you’re selling. 

Look at promoting your business on other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. Instagram, in particular, is a great way to engage with Gen Z. It’s easy to set up an account and simple to use.

“While Gen Z shoppers use Snapchat the most while shopping, they rely mainly on Instagram (45%) to find new cool products, followed by Facebook (40%).” – Euclid Analytics

To make the most of Instagram: 

  • Show more than tell. Focus first on the product and on people using the product before getting into other details. Do this through quality photos and short videos.
  • Keep video ads short. Gen Z responds best to videos that are 10 seconds long or shorter. (The shorter the better.)
  • Consider working with an Internet influencer. Gen Z responds more to individuals who have built a following solely on the Internet–most often on platforms such as Instagram, Twitch, and TikTok. Rather than relying on expensive celebrity endorsements, consider seeking an Internet-based personality to help promote your products. They’re often less expensive and Gen Z consumers enjoy the personal connection to an influencer more than a big-name celebrity. 
  • Respond to comments, good and bad. This goes back to the idea of improved engagement in customer service. By replying personally to comments made to your social media posts, you’re showing your customers that you care about their opinions. Even if a post is negative, a positively worded reply seeking to improve their experience can go a long way.

During the holidays, show items framed by the season such as kitchen items on holiday table displays, clothing worn at holiday parties, or people dressed in holiday garb engaged in making crafts or some other promoted experience.

Be socially and environmentally aware 

Gen Z notices when businesses take positive stances on a variety of social and environmental issues.

Less than half of Gen Z shoppers are willing to pay more for a product just because it’s certified environmentally sustainable. But they will favor an environmentally sustainable product over a similarly priced product that isn’t. If your business has gone green, brag about it.

Gen Z wants to be your customer 

Gen Z actively looks for opportunities to feel engaged and taken seriously as a consumer. Because the holiday shopping season often includes greater customer engagement and product presentation, this is a prime time to reach out to teens and young adults.

Take the time to learn about Gen Z and focus on what matters to them.

You can increase your customer base over the holiday and post-holiday seasons and hold on to that base as more members of Gen Z enter the market.

Are you ready to grow together?