Gen Z - The First Omnichannel Generation - How they Search, Browse, and Shop

BBI dives deeper into the Gen Z demographic and shopping habits via the Path to Purchase Institute. As Gen Z is showing signs of being the first omnichannel generation with impressive economic spending power, manufacturers and retailers are trying to connect and learn more about this generation.

Gen Z is shaping up to be the first omnichannel generation, one that demonstrates the ease and willingness to shop in stores and online with great fluidity. For the last few years, manufacturers and retailers have fixed their aim on how to win with Millennials—resulting in being hyper-focused on understanding and actioning how to win the sale via their preference for online purchasing. The drive, and arguably imbalance, to conquer digital and e-commerce has been palpable. However, there is a pendulum swing with Gen Z.

Generation Z is born approximately from 1997-2006. Gen Z currently makes up approximately 20% of the population (around 67 million), boasting strong voices, unique behaviors, and sought-after purchasing power. A generation that has come of age and its oldest members are moving into their post-education years.

Main Gen Z Takeaways:

  • There are 78 million Gen Zers in the United States between the ages of 6 to 24. 
  • About 28 million Gen Zers have impressive economic power and are over 18 years old.
  • With 13.6 million Gen Zers already in full-time and part-time employment, 43% generating income from side hustles, and many receiving allowances from parents, Gen Zer’s disposable income in 2021 reached $360 billion. 
  • As more Gen Zers join the workforce each year (they expect to account for 30% of the workforce by 2030), this figure is expected to grow, making them a vital customer segment.

So, how does all of this translate to their shopping behaviors?

From how Gen Z searches, browses, and shops across channels and platforms to what’s influencing their purchasing decisions, there are clear opportunities for brands and retailers to better connect with this dynamic consumer base in multiple ways.

Brands and retailers need to know Gen Z consumers are mostly shopping in person for food and beverages, household and personal care items, and pet care supplies. Online shopping shows higher percentages in electronics, home decor, sporting goods, and beauty.

What is driving Gen Z to shop in-store?

The principal reasons across all categories are the ability to see products in person and have hands-on interactions. For a generation accustomed to instant gratification, it makes sense that hands-on interactions and the immediacy of an in-store purchase resonates with them.

Gen Z is looking for authenticity and truth, so they digest content to inform their decision-making. With all of the retailer/brand actions regarded as impactful (ranging from 69%-91%), companies can select the tactics that align with their true, authentic brand stories and missions to connect deeper with Gen Z consumers.

Report via The Path to Purchase Institute. PTPI covers all components of the omnichannel path to purchase — from in-store to digital, combining insights, research, and inspiration. This report is based on a survey conducted March 22-30, 2022, of 16- to 24-year-olds who self-reported shopping online or in-store at least once a month for one or more categories of interest — it offers insights to help brands and retailers understand their behavioral shifts from previous generations.

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