5 Surprising Traits that Define Gen Z Shoppers

Criteo surveyed 2,000 members of Gen Z in the US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, and Japan to understand what they think about shopping, what motivates them to shop, ...
Updated on May 8, 2024


Criteo surveyed thousands of members of Gen Z in the US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, and Japan to understand what they think about shopping, what motivates them to shop, and what they want from the retail experience. What was most surprising? Their desire for relevant, real-world experiences.

Generation Z Shopping

While all countries have different economic factors at play, members of Gen Z share a common love of non-digital values like physical retail, good looking stores, and unique products. Here are five surprising traits that define Gen Z shoppers.

1. Significant spending power.

Gen Z is young, under 22 by most definitions, so most Gen Zers haven’t started their careers. But between their parents (allowances) and current jobs, they have money to spend. And since they drive emerging trends (read: mom jeans and acid wash), and their parents and grandparents wouldn’t think of making a major tech purchase without their input, they have outsized impact.

Fact: Gen Z shoppers report they spend nearly as much as their parents in categories like tech, apparel, toys & gaming and packaged goods.

2. A passion for IRL (in real life) retail.

Gen Zers may be described as “digital natives,” but they love interact with products in-person, too.

In fact, Gen Z is at the forefront of the omnishopping revolution and trend towards showrooming. What does it take to get them in store? A great, aesthetic experience, unique merchandise, and better ways to try products. Interactive mirrors and augmented solutions may be all the rage in this digital age, but many members of Gen Z want to touch before they buy.

Fact: Gen Z is the most likely to say that retail stores have gained in influence and as likely as their grandparents to say that they don’t like to buy without seeing a product in person.

generation z shopping

3. Dissatisfaction with the online experience.

Gen Z’s grandparents may think ecommerce is great, but Gen Z finds it frustrating. It’s too hard to see the products clearly (especially on mobile phones), and there’s just too much of the same old stuff. That’s why they turn to vloggers and social media networks to discover products in categories like Beauty and Apparel.

Fact: Gen Z is the Instagram/Snapchat generation, driven by gorgeous visuals and fleeting attention spans. But, that doesn’t mean that one-size fits all and brands don’t matter. They want products that they feel are unique to them and reflect their values. 

4. A tendency to shop around.

While Gen Zers love recognizable brands like Nike, Supreme, and Urban Decay, they’re always just one click away from another item. Most haven’t yet developed lifelong brand loyalties. They may look around for a better price – but more importantly, cooler stuff.

Fact: Nearly one third of Gen Z says they most often shop multiple sites and within a site to make their ultimate purchase decision. They are also the most likely of any generation to say they like to try new retailers and new websites.

5. An expectation for relevance from products and marketing.

Gen Zers understand that the contemporary world is full of advertising and want marketers to be up front about it – especially sponsorships for vloggers. They understand that their data is being used to deliver relevant offers, and that makes sense to them. It cuts through the clutter and delivers a meaningful service. In fact, they’re the most likely of any generation to expect that websites will be tailored to them based on their past interests.

Fact: Gen Z is most likely to say they like the discounts they get from ads sent to them based on what they’ve been shopping for. When it comes to traditional mass advertising, they actually say they like TV ads – probably since they see so few of them (Netflix and YouTube are their networks). 

For more on how to connect with Gen Z shoppers, download the full Gen Z report.

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