What do Generation Z shoppers really want? How retailers can capture the younger generation

What do Generation Z shoppers really want? How retailers can capture the younger generation
What do Generation Z shoppers really want? How retailers can capture the younger generation - Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Regardless of your feelings concerning Generation Z, there’s no denying that they have great power in today’s world. Born between the late 1990’s and the mid 2010’s, Gen Z is both an important and influential consumer force to be reckoned with.

They decide what trends are in and what trends are out, they’re redefining the workforce, and they definitely know how to rally together to take a stand. But more than just social power, they also have massive buying power.

Retailers need to understand what motivates this generation, how they prefer to shop, and how they can change their day-to-day operational strategies to meet their needs in order to effectively capture them. These guys want fun, authenticity, and they want “good”.


Here we look at four ways retailers can draw in Gen Z.

Sustainability and ethical values

Heavily influencing Gen Z’s purchasing choices are values such as sustainability and ethos. This generation holds retailers accountable for creating content and goods that reflect their take on environmental and social justice, with a heightened awareness around conscious consumption.


Results from a study conducted by Depop and the consultancy firm Bain and Company showed that high numbers of Gen Z have made commitments to be more sustainable in their daily lives, with things like environmentally-friendly fashion practices playing a key role in this. Other areas that are important to this generation are brands which speak about reducing carbon footprint, those who use eco-friendly materials, and brands which show responsibility to fair wages, diversity and inclusion.


Generation Z is all about personalization, more so than any other demographic. Research suggests that Gen Z consumers are more likely to make a purchase from brands which offer a more personalized approach, from customization to the whole shopping experience itself.


Growing up in an immersive and digital world has played a heavy role in shaping Gen Z’s attitude towards personalization. Sharing personal information is the norm, along with the belief that a website will know what you’re looking for before you even tell it, and therefore a seamless and personalized experience, tailored to individual wants and requirements, is very much expected by this generation.

Utilizing Instagram and TikTok effectively

Social media is critical to retailers’ campaigns and marketing, and these platforms need to be used carefully and effectively when targeting Gen Z consumers.


Instagram remains one of the most influential and lucrative channels, preferred over Twitter and Facebook, especially for up-and-coming brands. While consumers of established brands may need some encouragement to shop through the app, they may be more likely to shop through the app for a newly discovered brand. Therefore, new brands setting up shopping possibilities on Instagram need to utilize the space well to add ease to the shopping process.


More recently, TikTok has started to emerge as a valuable e-commerce space. With 60% of its audience being Generation Z, it makes it the perfect platform to reach this demographic. The #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend has had over 6.6 million views on the platform alone, making it the most eclectic product catalog on social media. This hashtag, which features a variety of TikTok videos from influencers and brands demonstrating and talking through new products, has become an essential tool for brands, both for driving sales and awareness. Some products have even gone viral from trending under this hashtag.

Ditching gender norms and language

Compared to the older demographics, Gen Z’s views on gender are much more fluid, and these values are reflected in their shopping habits. They have no qualms about buying clothes marketed to the opposite gender, but they do find traditional gender roles and gender-related language outdated, and retailers who use these are often deemed offensive. Gender binary itself is believed by Gen Z to be old-fashioned and harmful, as it forces people to embrace qualities that align with stereotypes of masculinity or femininity.


Although influential in deciding what trends are in and which ones are out, this generation is also known to break the trend, favoring clothes that simply make them feel confident rather than ones that are “on trend”. They aren’t afraid to go against the grain, motivated to embrace individualism, and they expect that brands will not only respect these values, but will reflect them within their ethos.

Final Thoughts

Many brands and industries have already jumped on the Gen Z bandwagon. For example, casinos realized that in order to cater to this audience, they needed to explore new channels, such as online casino games, in order to deliver their product successfully. Now more retailers need to follow suit. They need to adapt their approach and tailor it effectively if they want to truly grab the attention – and the sales – of this influential group.