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Gen Zers Comb Through Product Reviews Before Buying

Do strangers know best?

Now that Generation Z has some purchasing power of its own, many of these young internet users are turning to the opinions of strangers to decide what they should buy—just like their older counterparts. 

In an April 2018 survey conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics, roughly two-thirds of US Gen Z respondents (ages 13 to 22) said they will read at least three product reviews prior to making a first-time purchase.

As digital natives, it’s not surprising that this group would gather information on a product they’re interested in buying, especially when using their own money. Some 27% of respondents look at three to four user-generated reviews before committing to a purchase, and about one-fifth said they consider five to six reviews.

Female Gen Zers are slightly more likely than their male cohorts to take user-generated product reviews into consideration, according to the survey. This was most apparent among those who said they look at nine or more reviews (21% of females vs. 11% of males) when deciding whether something is worth buying.

Past studies also show that digital shoppers of all ages in the US trust strangers' reviews more than a personal recommendation. 

Aside from considering product reviews from ordinary people, Gen Zers also look to the opinions and recommendations of social media influencers. Nearly half (46%) of Gen Zers polled follow 10 or more influencers, and 10% of respondents follow more than 50 influencer accounts.

Despite influencers’ popularity among Gen Z, a separate 2017 study by The Center for Generations Kinetics found that three in 10 US internet users, ages 14 to 21, said a real customer is more likely than an online influencer (19%) to persuade them to try a new brand.

That’s important for retailers to note as the holiday shopping season gets closer, and many older Gen Zers participate for the first time.

According to an October 2018 PwC survey, 44% of older Gen Zers (those ages 17 to 21) plan to use Amazon’s trove of user-generated product reviews as they purchase gifts this holiday season, and 52% will rely on Google for the same purpose. Roughly one-third said reviews posted to social will help with their gifting decisions.