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How to appeal to Gen Z holiday shoppers, based on data

Marketers have their hearts set on capturing holiday dollars from Gen Z this season, but they shouldn’t run the same old marketing playbook if they want to succeed.

Here’s a breakdown of where and how Gen Z will shop this holiday season.

  • Holiday spend will approach $1.3 trillion in the US this year, according to our “US Holiday Shopping” report, up 7.0% over last year. Gen Z will be particularly spendy, with 62% intending to splurge, per McKinsey & Company.

How do they buy?

  • Surprisingly, 18- to 24-year-olds are more likely than any other age group to holiday shop at the mall, with 25% saying they’re very likely to visit, according to CivicScience. While malls may seem outdated, it makes sense that youngsters who spent much of their adolescence in COVID-19 lockdowns would flock to brick-and-mortar.
  • This holiday season, young people aren’t using buy now, pay later or mobile payment apps en masse. Debit cards are more common, used by 41% of Gen Zers, followed by credit cards and cash, according to TransUnion.
  • Four in 5 Gen Zers will shop via social this holiday season, even though they may not purchase directly through the apps. Two in 5 will use social media for all or most of their shopping, according to SimplicityDX.
  • Half of Gen Zers buy via social. Instagram is most popular, with 22% purchasing on the platform. TikTok is also popular for social buying, with 12% purchasing there.
  • But that leaves another 50% of Gen Z that doesn’t shop on social, even though they likely browse the apps. While 18% of Gen Zers prefer buying directly on social media, 73.80% would rather buy on the brand’s website, according to SimplicityDX.

What makes them buy?

  • Some 28% of Gen Zers consider discounts and promotional codes to be a key purchase trigger, compared to 26% who are motivated by the shopping experience and 15% who pay attention to social views and likes, according to a SimplicityDX study.
  • Zoomers are less pessimistic about the economy than older US adults: 41% of 18- to 29-year-olds say the economy is getting worse, a smaller portion than any other age group, according to YouGov. That said, 18% say they’re not sure what’s happening with the economy, more than any other age group.
  • While Gen Z is concerned about data privacy, those worries aren’t really influencing their ecommerce behaviors. Lack of interest in a product was more likely to prevent a purchase than privacy concerns, according to our “Social Commerce and the Path to Purchase” report.

Why does this matter?

  • While Gen Z isn’t as pessimistic about the economy, they’re not confident either. Deals and coupon codes will go a long way with this age group.
  • Many Gen Zers still aren’t making purchases on social media, but they’re definitely browsing on Instagram and TikTok in particular. Pay close attention to those platforms to drive website engagement.
  • Young people still patronize stores. Don’t discount brick-and-mortar’s importance among the generation that spent a chunk of their childhood under lockdown.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.