The Gateway To Gen Z Consumers (And How It Differs From Millennials)

  • September 23, 2019 at 1:08 PM EDT
  • By Retail TouchPoints Team
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By Zach
Morrison, Tinuiti

Millennials and Gen Z
consumers have over $200
 in buying power, but to effectively market to both
generations it’s important to know how they differ from each other, including
what they buy and how they shop.

Gen Z: Shopping And Buying

Generation Z ranges in age
from 4 to 22 years old. They have never lived in a world without computers (a.k.a.
instant access to vast information at all times). Forget three-way calling; they
have never used a landline. Instead, they Facetime friends in video group chats
after school. My own son, who at the age of six falls into this demographic,
conducts research on everything from the solar system to Transformers on his
iPad to creating his birthday list on the Amazon app, not to mention watching
others play video games on the Google hub in our kitchen (note, he’s never
heard of Twitch). 

But more than being tech
savvy, Gen Z consumers (especially those with buying power) are savers and
bargain shoppers who also value convenience and efficiency. 


Today, Gen Z shoppers are
looking for the things that a high school or college student needs most, like
casual apparel or inexpensive basics for a dorm room or their first

The rate of innovation is
rapidly moving for this age group, and retailers looking to reach Gen Z would
be wise to invest in digital advertising, as many Gen Z consumers actually
like online banner ads
 and appreciate the proactive and personalized experience
they bring to advertising. 

What’s really interesting is
that Gen Z consumers shop in different ways from previous generations, and many
of these ways do not include technology. Surprised?

Instagrammable Experiences For
Gen Z At Brick-And-Mortar Stores

That’s right; Gen Z likes to
document everything in their lives — from what they eat for lunch to where they
buy their shoes — leading Gen Z consumers to return to the physical retail
locations that Millennials left for online shopping. As they shop, they take
photos of cool sightings around the store and hold polls on social media for
what to buy. They also Google for coupons, check their email for promotions and
read reviews about products as they consider buying them in the aisle. 

Gen Z Strongly Prefers
Amazon And Brand Name Web Sites Or Online Shopping. 

Although they enjoy physical
stores, they also really like to shop on
Amazon and brand name web sites
 for fast and free shipping and apparel basics. And when
compared to other age groups, Gen Z consumers purchase from name brand web sites
like Chubbies and Bombas instead of multi-brand web sites like JCPenney by a 10%

Millennials: Shopping And Buying

When you think about a
Millennial, you may picture an entitled intern taking selfies and wasting their
paychecks on $5 designer lattes and avocado toast; I’m here to tell you that
you’re wrong. Millennials (ages
span 15 years that include college grads with one to two years’ work experience
all the way up to homeowners with two children and a C-level title. That allows
for a fairly diverse range of shopping habits and needs. 

Shopping trends often follow
the consumer through their life stages. As such, Millennials are buying work
clothes and baby products in increasing numbers over casual attire. But beyond
life moments, these shopping habits also can be attributed to digitally native
brands that sell those types of products, like Etsy and Bugaboo for strollers.

The rise of digital shopping
experiences and services has fueled the love affair Millennials have with
online shopping and e-Commerce. Above all else, they shop online and free, fast
shipping is the new expectation, not the value-add service it used to be. 

Millennials Are Buying
Clothes On Instagram, Snapchat And Other Online Channels

According to a recent study,
over 70% of participants
self-identified as Millennials have made a purchase from one of two social
media outlets in the past couple of months — compared to less than one third of
Gen Zers. This is important for e-Commerce retailers to note as up-and-coming
generations are leaning on technology in this way, as well as a nudge to invest
in visually appealing digital media to attract buyers in these age groups.

If Millennials Must Shop In
A Store, They Will Go To Big Box Brands Like Jet And Target

These legacy brands are
still trusted by Millennials, presenting an array of options as well as an
online and mobile experience. These stores also offer convenience in location
and a variety of clothing, housewares and groceries all under one roof.

Although Amazon may be the
apparel web site of choice for younger shoppers, most age groups are browsing
and buying clothing across multiple shopping channels, which speaks to the need
for brands and retailers to invest in a strategic multi-channel strategy to
engage with apparel shoppers across multiple touch points.

To reach Gen Z consumers
(and their growing wallets), brands must be willing to build visibility across
multiple channels. That could mean improving the functionality and features of
an e-Commerce web site on desktop and mobile, investing in premium content (if
that brand is selling on Amazon), creating unique physical store experiences
like pop-up shops and implementing a paid media strategy to scale traffic to

Morrison is the CEO of
Tinuiti, the new
name for Elite SEM. His “tell it like it is” approach to business, culture and
client success has translated to exponential growth for the agency and its
clients’ businesses. Through recent successful acquisitions and the management
of key client relationships, Morrison has led Tinuiti through periods of 100%
YoY growth while maintaining steady 20% YoY growth and doubling the agency’s
business every three years. This growth and diversification of services are
allowing Tinuiti to offer clients a holistic agency that uses integrated media
strategies, analytics and marketing science to revolutionize how companies use
data to influence marketing strategies.



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