A Marketer’s Guide to Gen Z Buying Behavior

Target markets are constantly changing, and it looks to be Gen Z who are stealing the limelight of late. Their habits and preferences are shaping eCommerce analytics differently from other generations, and tapping into these trends is essential if you want to successfully market to them. 

Of course, we’re not all Gen Zers though, so how are we supposed to know what they want? Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered.

Is Gen Z Even a Thing? 

Just when you’ve got used to having Millennials around, a new generation arrives to switch things up. Generation Z (or Gen Z) are those born between 1996 and 2012, although depending on where you look, these dates are pretty flexible. They’ve grown up with the internet and smartphones. 

Alongside this, Gen Z is considered to have a passion for advocacy and bringing about social change, being one of the most diverse generations yet. Research suggests they only take eight seconds to filter what they’re looking at. 

With this in mind, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and marketing to them might not be as simple as it first appeared.

Buying Behaviours of Gen Z: What Marketers Should Look For

Having grown up with the internet and all the joys of social media, it’s hardly surprising Gen Z have different shopping habits to Boomers, who still enjoy a brick-and-mortar building, or Millennials, the first generation to embrace online shopping. 

But not to worry – we’ve taken the liberty of jotting down some top Gen Z behaviors and how you can market to them.

1. Valued-based buying

As a socially conscious generation, Gen Z takes its inspiration from activists. They’re willing to put their money where their mouths are regarding causes they believe in. 23 percent of Gen Zers have reported boycotting a brand where it doesn’t align with their values. With so many eCommerce options available, there’s always another retailer if one brand doesn’t hit the mark.

To win them over, you must display your brand values clearly and be seen to stand up for them. It’s not about an ethical exterior but committing to consistent ethical practices across your business, right down to your sales automation

Performative moral facades are quickly seen through, whereas genuine actions can secure fierce brand loyalty from Gen Zers and boost word-of-mouth promotions.

2. Social media: not just for pictures

We all know the importance of keeping social media channels up to date and posting regular content. But social media has evolved since its early days of ‘pokes’ and polaroid-inspired layouts. Most recently, shopping channels and features have been integrated into it, meaning you can not only see into someone else’s life but buy it too.

Invest in social commerce and make it as easy as possible for Gen Z to buy your products. You don’t have to funnel every customer through your website – social commerce can hugely widen your reach. 

Really think about how you use your social media channels – can you utilize user-generated content or provide Q&As through live video content? These platforms are a place to connect and build a sense of community. This is how you engage with Gen Z. 

3. Influence or be influenced

Manny Gutierrez, Molly-Mae Hague, and Addison Rae may not be well-known names to you, but in the influencing business, they reign supreme. Nowadays, anyone can be an influencer, and sharing a picture of your meal is less about showing your food and more about publicly broadcasting your endorsement. Influencers are trendsetters, bestowing a seal of approval on the products and lifestyles they favor.

Try collaborating with influencers in a similar field, sending samples of products, creating content together, or inviting them to events. Influencers act as a trusted source and trial dummy for the general public. If your Gen Zers are on the fence about a purchase, seeing someone they trust try it out and recommend it can be exactly the push they need.

4. The whole experience

A good product will always sell, but a great experience from start to finish will bring people back again and again. Gen Z is willing to spend more on an experience rather than just a product and is seeking out new and interesting places to find them. These experiences are part of a brand’s image, fostered across their web pages, stores, and social media accounts.

Whether creating an aesthetic pop-up shop or a catchy hashtag to use alongside photos of your products, each part of your business helps formulate the experience. Make sure you create a cohesive image, developing eCommerce merchandising for your brand and products, to lead customers by the hand through a curated journey of your mission, values, and style.

5. Don’t give up on emails 

Just because Gen Z enjoys and makes use of social media, doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned emails. 58 percent of Gen Zers check their inboxes multiple times a day, so appearing there won’t do any harm. However, what you put in those emails and how you market them might look a little different.

Generally, it’s about quality over quantity. Sales and offers still get email opens, as does content that’s relevant and authentic to your brand. Integrate emails into your brand image and style as another way of extending the customer experience. This is a great opportunity to build regular contact with more customers on the cheap.

6. Be yourself

Yes, it’s cheesy, but being authentic in your brand is essential to Gen Z. Pretending to be someone or something you’re not will fall flat. Authenticity creates relatability for Gen Z customers with the same values at heart. This is why influencers are such a hit – they aren’t distant celebrities living in a different world but ordinary people (albeit with some snazzy sponsors).

Simple things, like providing accurate images with minimal editing, committing to inclusivity and diversity in all areas of your business, and standing with public figures and activists, show authenticity and integrity. Don’t do things just because they’re popular or a trend – trends change daily. You’ll do far better to stick to your strategies and aims than chase what is ‘in’.

It’s Okay, Gen Z Don’t Bite…

Gen Z isn’t that scary, and marketing to them shouldn’t be a reason to panic. Yes, they’ve been brought up with the internet and eat avocados on toast, but that doesn’t mean your marketing has to drastically change. 

With a little attention to what Gen Z looks for and their buying behaviors, your campaigns are sure to still be a hit.


Author Bio:

Joanne Burman – Head of Strategic Marketing, PureClarity. Jo is the Head of Strategic Marketing at PureClarity⁠— a fast-growing AI-based eCommerce personalization SaaS solution driving revenue and conversions through the augmented reality shopping experience. She is an expert with over 20 years of experience in Marketing, Ecommerce, and Project Management. Jo dedicated her career to empower online retailers and propel their eCommerce growth. Here is her LinkedIn.

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