Move over, Millennials. There’s another generation that’s starting to influence how marketers think. You’ve probably heard of Gen Z before. They’re young. They’re super active on social media. They have a lot of strong opinions and aren’t afraid of making themselves heard.

Marketing to Gen Z means understanding how they think. This is the first generation that grew up in a truly mobile era. They never knew a world without high-speed Internet. Most had phones by middle school. So, as Gen Z grows up, the real question now is… how do they shop?

In our recently released Gen Z report, we surveyed thousands members of Gen Z in the US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, and Japan to understand what Gen Z thinks about marketing, what motivates them, and what they expect from the commerce experience.

Gen Z Research

Among other things, our Gen Z report shows that social and mobile dominates their lives:

  • 52% use Instagram and Snapchat several times a day

  • 51% say websites optimized for their phones is important

  • 32% of their transactions take place on a mobile device

We noticed three distinct trends among Gen Z:

1. They want both tech and tactile experiences.

While the smartphone may be their remote control for life, screens aren’t enough for Gen Z.

In fact, our research showed that this generation is much more tactile than older generations. Experiencing the world first-hand, from travel to products, is important to them. For this reason, online shopping doesn’t fully deliver on their desires for touch and instant gratification.

While Gen Z appreciates innovative technologies in stores, like mobile self-checkout, interactive touchscreens, and virtual try-on, they still want great customer service.

To the generation that’s grown up with immediate access to everything, making the retail experience compelling and unique is extremely important. Expert staff that can help with decisions, in-store displays that inspire social sharing, or augmented reality are some of the ways Gen Z brands stand out.

2. They want personalized, helpful brand content.

Forget about ads for selling’s sake alone. These days, useful videos with relevant information are one ticket to engaging with Gen Z. They’re looking for meaning and inspiration from content, especially on social media (think Instagram stories and YouTube shorts).

gen z research

You can see this in action by taking a look at retail startups. Brands like AWAY (luggage), Warby Parker (eyewear), Casper (mattresses), and Glossier (makeup), are all working hard to market to Gen Z with interactive content across channels, from illustrated subway ads to “Find more hours in the day” to editorial-meets-product-review websites.

3. They want good-looking stores with unique merchandise.

According to Criteo’s Shopper Story report, 71% of Gen Z enjoy shopping in stores to understand what’s in style, and 80% like to try new retail stores. And looks matter: compared to Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, Gen Z counts store design as a bigger factor when it comes to deciding on an in-store visit.

To digitally savvy Gen Z, the brick-and-mortar visit is akin to a novelty experience. Additionally, perhaps even more so than Millennials, Gen Z don’t want to look like everyone else. Personal style (read: evidence of how cool / subversive / socially conscious / politically aware they are) is a priority for these fashion lovers. Products displayed in their best light, especially unique and different merchandise, becomes more desirable — even better if they’re only available in limited quantities.

For more Gen Z insights, download the full report.

Michelle Pruett

Michelle is an ice cream enthusiast who writes about tech, trends, and culture. Her work has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, The Motley Fool, The Huffington Post, AdWeek, MediaPost, eMarketer, Luxury Daily, Domino, DuJour, and more. She's lived on three continents and is proud to be a New Yorker at heart.

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