Unraveling the consumer preferences and habits of Generation Z with examples and statistics

Generation Z, comprising individuals born between 1997 and 2012, has gradually emerged as a powerful demographic in the world of commerce. With their unique preferences and innovative approach to shopping, they are significantly influencing the retail landscape. This article delves into the most prominent Gen-Z shopping trends, supported by examples and statistics, to help businesses understand and cater to this influential cohort.

1. Preference for Online Shopping

The rise of Generation Z, individuals born between 1997 and 2012, has brought about a paradigm shift in consumer preferences, with online shopping becoming increasingly popular among this demographic. According to a 2020 study by McKinsey & Company, 67% of Gen-Z participants reported preferring online shopping to physical retail stores, a trend which has only intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (Chatterji, 2020). This preference can be attributed to several factors, including the convenience, vast product selections, and personalized experiences that e-commerce platforms provide. For instance, the popular fashion e-commerce platform ASOS has successfully catered to Gen-Z consumers by offering a diverse range of brands and sizes, as well as features like “try before you buy” and free returns, which appeal to the tech-savvy, convenience-driven nature of this generation.

One of the defining characteristics of Gen-Z consumers is their innate comfort with technology and digital platforms, having grown up in an era of widespread internet access and mobile devices. A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 95% of teenagers in the United States have access to a smartphone, and 45% are online “almost constantly” (Anderson & Jiang, 2019). This high level of digital connectivity has created a natural affinity for online shopping, as Gen-Z consumers are accustomed to seamlessly accessing information and making purchases with just a few clicks. Platforms like Amazon and eBay have further fueled this preference, with user-friendly interfaces and features like personalized recommendations, one-click purchasing, and expedited shipping options.

Social media platforms have also played a significant role in shaping Gen-Z’s preference for online shopping. A report from Business Insider Intelligence found that 44% of Gen-Z consumers have made a purchase based on a recommendation from a social media influencer (Berke, 2019). Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest have evolved into powerful marketing channels, where influencers and brands alike can engage with their target audience and showcase their products through visually appealing and interactive content. For example, the introduction of Instagram’s “shoppable posts” feature in 2018 allowed users to easily purchase products directly from their feed, further simplifying the online shopping experience and catering to the preferences of the Gen-Z audience.

2. Social Media Influence on Purchase Decisions

Gen-Z has emerged as a dominant force in the consumer landscape, with their purchasing decisions being heavily influenced by social media. This digitally native cohort has grown up with constant exposure to platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, where they spend an average of 3 hours and 38 minutes per day, according to a study by Global Web Index (2021). As a result, their shopping habits are more intricately linked to their online experiences than those of older generations. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (2020) found that 49% of Gen-Z consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see it on social media, highlighting the significance of digital platforms in shaping their buying decisions.

One of the key drivers of social media’s influence on Gen-Z’s purchase decisions is the rise of influencers and content creators. These social media personalities, who often share similar tastes and interests with their followers, have a strong impact on Gen-Z’s perception of brands and products. A report by Kantar (2020) found that 44% of Gen-Z consumers have made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation. Brands are capitalizing on this trend by collaborating with influencers for product promotion, targeting Gen-Z consumers with authentic and relatable content. For example, the cosmetics brand Glossier has successfully captured Gen-Z’s attention through influencer partnerships, user-generated content, and engaging social media campaigns

3. Sustainability and Ethical Practices

Gen-Z has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical practices in their consumption habits. This generation, which is set to comprise 40% of global consumers by 2020 (Bloomberg, 2018), is more inclined to support businesses that prioritize environmental and social responsibility. According to a study conducted by First Insight (2020), 62% of Gen-Z respondents prefer to buy from sustainable brands, and 73% are willing to pay more for such products. This growing concern for sustainability and ethical practices among Gen-Z consumers has led to a shift in the way businesses approach product development, marketing, and supply chain management.

One example of a brand that has successfully resonated with Gen-Z consumers through its sustainable and ethical practices is Allbirds, a footwear company known for its eco-friendly shoes made from natural and recycled materials. By focusing on transparency in their supply chain, reducing carbon emissions, and utilizing sustainable materials like merino wool and sugarcane, Allbirds has managed to capture the attention of environmentally conscious Gen-Z consumers. The brand’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices has not only earned it a loyal customer base but has also positioned it as a leader in the growing sustainable fashion industry.

Another example of Gen-Z’s influence on sustainability and ethical practices is their preference for second-hand or vintage clothing. Driven by a desire to reduce their carbon footprint and make more eco-friendly choices, Gen-Z consumers have contributed to the growth of the resale market. According to a report by ThredUp (2021), the second-hand fashion market is set to double in the next five years, reaching a value of $77 billion by 2025. Platforms like Depop, Poshmark, and The RealReal have gained popularity among Gen-Z shoppers, as they offer access to unique, sustainable, and affordable fashion options. By embracing second-hand shopping and supporting brands that prioritize sustainability, Gen-Z is pushing the fashion industry towards a more ethical and environmentally responsible future.

4. Emphasis on Personalization and Customization

Gen-Z has shown a strong affinity for personalization and customization in their consumption habits. Having grown up in a digital era where tailored content and experiences are the norm, Gen-Z consumers have come to expect a high level of personalization in their interactions with brands. According to a study by SmarterHQ (2019), 62% of Gen-Z respondents prefer to shop with brands that offer personalized recommendations and experiences. Furthermore, a report by Epsilon (2020) found that 80% of Gen-Z consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers personalized products and services. This demand for personalization and customization has led brands to invest in innovative technologies and strategies to cater to the unique preferences of Gen-Z consumers.

One example of a company that has successfully embraced personalization and customization to cater to Gen-Z is Nike, the global sportswear brand. Through its Nike By You program, the company allows customers to design their shoes, selecting from various colors, materials, and styles to create a unique and personalized product. By offering this customization option, Nike has managed to attract Gen-Z consumers who value self-expression and individuality. Additionally, the brand has leveraged technology like mobile apps and augmented reality to offer personalized shopping experiences, such as virtual try-ons and product recommendations based on user preferences.

Another example of personalization and customization in the context of Gen-Z is the rise of subscription box services, which offer curated selections of products tailored to individual tastes and preferences. Brands like Stitch Fix, a personal styling service, and Ipsy, a beauty subscription box, have gained popularity among Gen-Z consumers by providing personalized product selections based on user profiles and preferences. These services not only offer the convenience of home delivery but also enable users to discover new products that align with their unique tastes and interests. By prioritizing personalization and customization in their offerings, brands can successfully engage with and cater to the diverse needs and desires of Gen-Z consumers.

5. Value-Conscious Spending

Gen-Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012, is characterized by their value-conscious approach to spending. While this digitally native cohort is known for prioritizing sustainability, personalization, and customization, they are also highly conscious of getting the most value for their money. A study by the National Retail Federation (2020) found that 71% of Gen-Z respondents consider price as a key factor when making a purchase decision. This focus on value-conscious spending can be attributed to several factors, including the economic uncertainty faced by this generation as they witnessed the financial crisis of 2008 and the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One example of Gen-Z’s value-conscious spending habits is their preference for affordable and fast-fashion brands, such as H&M, Zara, and ASOS. Despite the increasing awareness of the environmental and social impact of fast fashion, these brands continue to appeal to Gen-Z consumers by offering on-trend clothing at lower price points. To cater to the value-driven mindset of this generation, many fast-fashion brands have introduced sustainable and ethically produced lines, providing budget-friendly options that align with Gen-Z’s values. For instance, H&M’s “Conscious Collection” is designed to meet the demand for affordable and sustainable fashion, featuring garments made from organic and recycled materials.

Another example of value-conscious spending among Gen-Z consumers is their increasing use of mobile applications and browser extensions that offer discounts, deals, and cashback opportunities. Platforms like Honey, Rakuten, and Ibotta have gained popularity among this generation, as they provide users with easy access to promotional codes and cashback rewards, enabling them to save money on their purchases. Additionally, Gen-Z consumers are turning to social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to discover affordable alternatives and “dupes” for popular products. By seeking out the best deals and prioritizing value for money, Gen-Z consumers are shaping the retail landscape and influencing the strategies of brands that aim to cater to their unique preferences and spending habits.

Famous Gen-Z Celebrities

Gen-Z celebrities have gained significant popularity and influence through their presence on social media platforms like Instagram. Here are some examples of Gen-Z celebrities and their Instagram handles:

  1. Billie Eilish (@billieeilish) – American singer-songwriter known for her unique music style and fashion sense.
  2. Zendaya (@zendaya) – American actress and singer, who gained fame from Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up” and has since starred in “Euphoria” and “Spider-Man” movies.
  3. Shawn Mendes (@shawnmendes) – Canadian singer-songwriter and pop sensation, known for hits like “Stitches” and “Senorita.”
  4. Millie Bobby Brown (@milliebobbybrown) – British actress, best known for her role as Eleven in the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things.”
  5. Timothée Chalamet (@tchalamet) – American actor known for his roles in “Call Me By Your Name,” “Lady Bird,” and “Dune.”
  6. Noah Centineo (@ncentineo) – American actor who gained popularity from his roles in Netflix’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” series and “The Perfect Date.”
  7. Emma Chamberlain (@emmachamberlain) – American YouTuber and podcast host known for her candid and relatable content.
  8. Charli D’Amelio (@charlidamelio) – American social media personality and dancer who rose to fame on TikTok and has since amassed a significant following on Instagram.
  9. Maddie Ziegler (@maddieziegler) – American dancer, actress, and model who gained fame from her appearance on the reality show “Dance Moms” and her work with singer Sia.
  10. Finn Wolfhard (@finnwolfhardofficial) – Canadian actor and musician best known for his roles in “Stranger Things” and “It.”


Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2019). Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/

Berke, A. (2019). Influencer Marketing Report 2020. Business Insider Intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/influencer-marketing-report