US Generation Z Shopping Behaviors

How the Most Marketed-To Generation Likes to Buy

Executive Summary

Gen Zers in the US are becoming a highly influential group of shoppers and buyers. Though half of this cohort has yet to enter the full-time workforce, it is the most marketed-to group of children, teens, and young adults in modern history. Gen Z already has an estimated collective buying power that is nearing $150 billion, per Barkley, and represents a large and growing opportunity for brands that understand their unique shopping and buying behaviors.

How do Gen Z’s shopping behaviors differ from those of older generations?

Similar to millennials, Gen Z taps a wider variety of sources for product information and switches effortlessly among them. As digital natives, they see the discovery of products as a continuum of online and offline experiences that make up their customer journey. They’re more likely than older generations to seek deals and freebies and make purchases that help them showcase their individuality.

Has the pandemic changed this generation’s shopping and buying habits?

Gen Zers preferred a hybrid of online research and in-person shopping and buying before the pandemic, but the health crisis further pushed these behaviors online. They’re on track to shop online more than they did before, but many could be enticed back into stores with unique experiences and personal connections that are not available digitally.

What does Gen Z want from retailers?

Gen Z gravitates toward retailers that make it easy for them to research, purchase, and return products. They also favor brands that they perceive as authentic, and that espouse inclusion and support the same causes they do.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? A snapshot of recent data about Gen Z’s shopping and buying behaviors.

KEY STAT: Gen Z, a digitally native group, is more likely to engage in social commerce than older generations are. More than half of Gen Z adult social network users (ages 18 to 24) are social buyers, and nearly half of Gen Z teen social network users (ages 14 to 17) are.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Key Points
  3. Gen Z Is More Reliant on People They Trust for Product Information
  1. Budget-Conscious Gen Zers Are Careful Spenders
  2. Online Buying Is Here to Stay
  3. A Future of Hybrid Experiences
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

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Victoria Petrock


Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Jeane Han
Senior Researcher
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Lauren Ruhlen