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Generation Z eCommerce: Meet the new generation of online shoppers

Last updated on October 30, 20208 min read

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The further we go into 2020, the more we can see how Generation Z is shaping the future of eCommerce. 

And even though the majority of Gen Zers is still underage, they’re still causing tectonic changes in the eCommerce landscape. 

Throughout this article, we’ll show you how to approach your Gen Z audience and how to adapt to the new generation of online shoppers! 

Before we go any further down this road, just a quick note! 

If you’re already running an eCommerce business, or you’re currently starting out – we’d like to help you. 

We’re a professional Pimcore development company with a proven track record of building successful eCommerce businesses! So, if you’re looking for a reliable long-term partner – you’ve found one! 

And now – let’s go further into the topic of Generation Z eCommerce. 

What we have prepared for you

What is Generation Z characteristic for?

So, what makes Generation Z so unique? 

Unlike any other generation before them, they’ve been using the internet, smartphones, and computers for the majority of their lives. 

The oldest Generation Zers are born in 1997, while the youngest of them are born in 2012. 

When the first iPhone launched back in 2007, the oldest members of this generation were 10.

By the time they entered their teen years, smartphones were already a significant part of one’s personal life. 

Another interesting fact is that millennials were the ones who adapted to the concepts of social media, constant connectivity, and on-demand entertainment.

Generation Zers, on the other hand, were raised into it. 

They are the largest generation ever recorded with more than 2 billion people belonging to Generation Z!

So, it would be highly useful and, even mandatory in time, to know how to market to this new generation of online shoppers. 

Generation Z - workforce percentage

With a spending power of over $140 billion, Generation Z proves to be financially powerful. This gives even more reason to create a specific strategy for catering to Generation Z! 

Moreover, Generation Zers have a pragmatic approach when deciding where and from whom to shop. 

And even though they’re heavy users of smartphones and most often eCommerce shoppers – they still value physical experiences.

According to a recent study by IBM, Generation Z is keen on using smartphones for shopping, but that’s not stopping them from visiting the physical store.

Generation Z statistics - spending habits

As time moves on and they become more financially empowered and gain new responsibilities, they’ll look to save their time by reaching to businesses through web or mobile applications. 

Now, let’s see how they differ from their predecessors, the millennial generation. 

How does Generation Z differ from millennials?

Well, the first difference between those two generations is the age range. Millennials are born between 1980 and 1996, while Gen Zers are born between 1997 and 2012. 

Even though these two generations may seem similar, they have different views on shopping, money, and interaction with brands.

For example, millennials have higher expectations for customer experience and they’re willing to pay extra if it means they will have a better experience.

To be exact, 74% of millennials say their standard for customer experience has never been higher! 

On the other hand, 62% of Gen Z can say the same, according to Salesforce.

Moreover, as Gen Z has grown up in the age of technological innovation, they have somewhat higher expectations from companies when it comes to innovation. 

To compare these two generations and their understanding of innovation – just think about VHS cassettes. If you’re a millennial or an older generation, you know very well what VHS cassettes are.

On the other hand, Gen Z may have a hard time coming up with an answer. They’ve been growing up in the era of watching Netflix on their smartphones. 

Simply said, they expect more innovation.

According to Salesforce, 80% of millennials agree that companies bring innovative products and services based on their customers’ needs and values, while around 71% of Generation Zers can say the same. 

But let’s compare them even more! 

One huge difference between those two generations is that Generation Z is pragmatic, while the millennial generation is idealistic.

Unlike millennials, who were raised during an economic boom, Generation Z grew up (and still is growing up) during the recession.

Generation Z has been shaped by the economic pressure that was present throughout their childhood years. 

Consequently, the most successful approach towards Generation Z is the one focused on long-term value and cost-effectiveness. 

Generation Z on innovation

Another significant difference between these generations revolves around financial habits. 

Generation Z tends to be more interested in saving money than millennials were at that age.

They want the maximum value out of their every purchase, unlike millennials, who are more interested in the experience of shopping for a product or a service. 

The reason why Generation Z has more interest in saving money and conservative spending is the result of growing up during the economic recession. 

They pay attention to their finances and they’re well aware of their spending habits.

Generation Z likes to save money

When marketing to Generation Z, pointing out high-quality investments and offering a variety of deals and discounts is a smart strategy. 

Now, when we’ve gone through some key differences between these two generations, let’s move on to the next chapter!

Let’s take a look at how Generation Z is shaping eCommerce!

How exactly is Generation Z impacting eCommerce?

In this chapter, we’ll go through some interesting information about Generation Z and their spending habits.

According to Retail Touchpoints, 47% of U.S. Generation Z shoppers research products on their smartphones while they’re at a brick-and-mortar store.

Almost half of Generation Z living in the US uses their smartphones when shopping – it’s an astonishing percentage.

Quick pause! If you’re new to eCommerce – check out our article on benefits of eCommerce for customers and business!

But let’s check a few more statistics on the spending habits of Generation Z.

Generation Z spending habits statistics

For Generation Z, customer care is extremely important. And that strongly applies to social media. 

They value a fast response from customer service more than any other generation before. 

As we move forward, a growing number of customers use social media instead of phone calls to reach out to customer service.

And personalized and swift service is going to become even more important to Generation Z as younger members of the generation increase their buying power.

They want to experience a seamless and fluid customer service experience more than any other group.

For example, if a customer reaches out with an issue through Facebook, they should still be able to be notified regarding their situation through Instagram or Twitter.

And according to Business Wire, 60% of Generation Zers are more likely than other customers to hang up if their call isn’t answered in under 45 seconds.

We could say that Generation Z has set higher standards when it comes to customer service. They’re raised into a culture of innovation and they expect innovation in any aspect of their shopping experience. 

Moreover, as Forbes states, 42% of Generation Zers would participate in an online game for a campaign while 43% of them would write a product review. 

This tells us that they want to get involved with the brands and they want to take part in building that brand’s reputation.

They love creativity and campaigns that encourage collaboration between them and brands. 

This makes social media the perfect medium to connect with Generation Z. 

Social media is the biggest opportunity to create personalized brand experiences and enable customers to work together on something they feel is larger than themselves. 

Now, we’ve gone through some of the characteristics of Generation Z that play an important role when it comes to eCommerce.

So let’s provide you with a few useful strategies for catering to this specific generation. 

The best eCommerce strategies for catering to Generation Z

Let’s take a look at how to market to this generation of digital natives! 

Activate your social media! 

Generation Zers are known for their intensive use of social media. They communicate with other brands freely, and they don’t back down from writing a product review. 

Moreover, more than 50% of them are influenced by comments on social media! This shows just how important social media is in the lives of Generation Z.

Leverage social media to reach Generation Z

Being one of the most active groups on social media, they’ve become important customers for various brands worldwide. 

They want to see more interactive content published on social media, such as polls, quizzes, and so on. 

Also, they do like seeing user-generated content across all channels. They are careful when deciding on a purchase and one of their first stops are the reviews and testimonials.

Without a good number of reviews and other customers’ references, your product or service may easily be overlooked. 

Generation Z wants you to be authentic! 

According to Forbes, more than 63% of Gen Z customers would want to see real people in ads, while only 37% of millennials would want the same.

This has quickly led to the rise of social media influencers. A good number of brands have already realized the importance of influencer marketing when it comes to Generation Z. 

They’ve been using Instagram influencers, fashion models, travel bloggers, and many more as a medium for their advertising.

The reason influencer marketing comes off as successful is due to the fact that it’s authentic.

Let’s check out an example.

Goran Jović is a photographer and videographer who reached a big enough number of followers and engagement levels to land a sponsorship from Samsung.

Generation Z eCommerce - social media influencers

In the image above, you can see that he’s used his post to promote Samsung and it’s phone sound system to more than 150 thousand people and earned more than 7 thousand likes.

Take note! Generation Z will accept celebrity endorsements, but only if they’re transparent about the advertising. 

Keep it short! 

If you thought that a millennial’s attention span of 12 seconds is short, think again! 

The average attention span of Generation Zers is around 8 seconds.

In short, this means that you’ll need to get to the point with your marketing in a very short time. 

So, take advantage of visuals instead of long-form text posts! 

There are several ways to capture their attention, and one of them is writing short-form texts. 

Generation Z tends to communicate with different memes, emojis, and GIFs. To be prepared for your communication efforts towards Generation Z, try to stay updated with their newest communication trends and references! 

Slim Jim is a great example of a brand that’s accommodated their communication almost exclusively for Generation Z. 

Generation Z eCommerce - social media accounts making memes

They emphasize posting memes, short-form texts, and user-generated content. 

Not every brand should go down this road in this intensity, but this could serve as a good lesson on communicating with Generation Z. 

You want to reach Generation Z? Go mobile! 

Generation Zers may be digital natives – but their mobile phone is their primary device.

According to Review 42, 98% of Generation Z owns a smartphone! 

So, mobile devices such as smartphones should be your main target device if you’re aiming for maximum engagement with Generation Z.

But being mobile-friendly won’t be enough. To really resonate with Generation Z customers, you’ll need to make sure your user experience (UX) is top-notch. 

Growing up in the digital age, Generation Z knows good UX when they see it. 

So, use short sentences, use subheads, and bullet points.

Make sure they can soak up all of the needed information in a very short time period. 

A shift from traditional eCommerce to progressive mCommerce is a must.

Connect with them on the right channel! 

Even if you have a great message, you’ll need to deliver it on the right channel.

And in many cases, that channel could be YouTube! Generation Z grew up with YouTube, and it’s become their favorite channel

Additionally, they may avoid opening emails, as they see them outdated. Instead, they’re 3 times more likely to open a chat message!

Also, it’s astonishing that 1 out of 5 Generation Zers state that Snapchat influences their purchasing decision.

Think about what channels your brand can leverage to reach out to this generation. Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube are some of the ideal candidates.

Now, when you’ve got the right channel set, you’ll need to have a perfect message.

Sprint Mobile has done much to connect with Generation Z. 

They formed a new team, called Candybar, consisting of Generation Z and Millennial employees who are in charge of Sprint’s youth marketing division.

One of the first campaigns this newly-formed team launched was the #LiveUnlimited campaign. It was an entirely digital campaign and is focused on using influencers instead of actors. 

Generation Z eCommerce - Sprint campaign with influencers

The focus of the campaign was on providing Sprint’s customers with additional value and increasing brand loyalty. And it was a success. 

They gave out free subscriptions to Tidal, a music streaming service. Also, the campaign included a number of sponsored YouTube videos from Generation Z’s favorite influencers.

With this campaign, they brought awareness to their newly redefined services including unlimited mobile data and text messaging – something Generation Z holds extremely important. 

What should be my next move? 

Throughout this article, we’ve gone through the characteristics of Generation Z, their spending habits, and some concrete strategies for marketing to them.

So, what’s your next move?

First off, you’ll need a beautiful eCommerce solution with great UX.

And this is where we can help you!

We’re a professional Pimcore development company specialized in creating high-quality eCommerce solutions with beautiful design.

If you’d like some help with your project, feel free to reach out to us! We’d be happy to talk with you about your ideas!

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