Navigating the digital world Gen Z and Christmas Shopping


Gen Z is a lucrative and ambiguous segment of shoppers (INL Stock Image)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, November 22, 2023

As the holiday season approaches, a new generation takes centre stage in the world of Christmas shopping: Generation Z.

Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, Gen Z is characterised by its digital fluency, social consciousness, and unique approach to consumerism.

As Gen Z takes the reins of Christmas shopping, retailers must adapt to their preferences and values. Embracing the digital landscape, promoting sustainable practices, and aligning with social consciousness are key strategies for brands seeking to connect with this influential generation during the festive season. By understanding and catering to Gen Z’s unique approach to consumerism, retailers can create meaningful and lasting relationships with the holiday shoppers of the future.

A shopping experience that works (Image Supplied)

Digital Natives and Online Shopping

Gen Z, having grown up in the digital age, is inherently comfortable with online shopping.

E-commerce platforms, mobile apps, and social media play a pivotal role in their holiday shopping experience. According to a survey by Accenture, 63% of Gen Z shoppers prefer making purchases online, valuing the convenience and efficiency it offers. Retailers must adapt to this trend by enhancing their online presence, optimising websites for mobile use, and embracing e-commerce strategies to engage this tech-savvy demographic.

Gen Z often turns to social media influencers for gift inspiration. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are hotspots for trends and recommendations. Influencers share gift guides, product reviews, and shopping hauls, influencing the purchasing decisions of their followers. Brands can capitalise on this trend by collaborating with influencers, creating authentic content, and fostering a sense of community around their products.

What Gen Z wants to support (Image Supplied)

According to a survey in the US by Shopify, 48% of young people said they will do at least some of their year-end buying on social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram. This is much higher than the one-third of overall shoppers across age groups who said the same.

For brands attempting to capture Gen Z customers, a compelling social media presence is key. About 86% of Gen Z shoppers say social media sways their buying decisions, according to a report by ICSC.

Peers, not celebrities

In earlier times, celebrity endorsement made a product feel special and therefore desirable. Gen Z, however, does not believe or care if a millionaire uses a certain type of face wash.

A peer with good skin is a more persuasive advertisement. And even if the “peer” is an influencer, Shi says they are much more accessible than a brand.

“They can still communicate with an influencer on an equal footing. It is not like you are talking to a brand where you send a message to an email address and they never reply to you. They do give the presence of a friend or trusted information source. It is a lot more persuasive,” she said.

Environmental consciousness is a significant factor influencing Gen Z’s purchasing decisions.

A Nielsen study found that 73% of Gen Z respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable products. This mindset extends to their Christmas shopping habits, with a preference for eco-friendly gifts, ethical brands, and minimal packaging. Retailers looking to attract Gen Z customers should highlight their sustainability initiatives, transparent supply chains, and environmentally friendly product options.

The influencers for shopping choices (Image Supplied)

Thrifting and Second-hand Shopping

Gen Z’s commitment to sustainability is evident in their embrace of thrift and second-hand shopping. Resale platforms and vintage stores offer unique, sustainable gift options that align with Gen Z’s values. Brands can tap into this trend by promoting pre-loved items, and upcycled products, and promoting the concept of “gently used” as an eco-friendly and budget-conscious alternative to traditional retail.

Personalisation and Customisation

Gen Z values individuality and self-expression. Personalised and customisable products resonate with this desire for uniqueness. Brands that offer customisable gifts or limited-edition items appeal to Gen Z’s sense of identity and allow them to create memorable and one-of-a-kind presents for their loved ones.

Gen Z prioritises supporting brands that align with their values. Socially conscious companies that champion causes such as inclusivity, diversity, and social justice are more likely to attract Gen Z customers. Brands can build trust and loyalty by being transparent about their values and actively contributing to social and environmental initiatives.

 Adulting’ decisions

A recent research by ICSC on the rise of Gen Z consumers and its impact on buying patterns states, “Gen Z is a generation of contrasts. While they are the first group in history to grow up entirely with digital and mobile technology at their fingertips, they are continuing to play a vital role in the revival of physical stores highlighting the draw of gathering, shopping, and dining with friends in person.”

According to financial expert Sarah Thompson, “Members of Gen Z are coming of age in an uncertain economy, and four in five respondents say they are worried, as inflation, interest rates, and the prospect of a recession continues to impact their outlook.”

Retail economist, Dr Michael Nguyen, states, “Gen Z is mindful of their spending. They are more likely to look for value, discounts, and quality when making purchases.”

Businesses that offer competitive pricing, and promotions, and emphasise the value proposition of their products are likely to resonate with Gen Z. Understanding the balance between quality and affordability is key to capturing this demographic’s attention.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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