<img src="http://www.central-core-7.com/54940.png" style="display:none;">

Stella Intelligence: The Gen Z Report Part I | Shopping Habits

21 Jul 2022 Elizabeth McHugh

in Strategy, Glimmer, Trending

Welcome to our 2022 blog series on Gen Z, a three-part look at the second-youngest generation, powered by our new, proprietary research on their behaviors, purchase drivers, media habits, and overall outlook. We start with a focus on shopping, primarily in the beauty, personal care, and food and beverage categories.

Context + Why Gen Z

Gen Zers are 12-25*; still quite young, many are not financially independent—only 32% work full time. Gen Z, the third-largest generation (after Millennials and Boomers), makes up approximately 20% of the U.S. population. Gen Z receives plenty of press attention: they are a diverse, trendsetting, authentic, media-focused group with strong influence over the culture. COVID impacted Gen Z at a pivotal moment in their growth, the ramifications of which are still playing out and will for years. From their prioritization of mental health to fiscal responsibility to overall preference for in-store experiences, many of Gen Z’s behaviors and preferences now are critical forward indicators.


Where Did You Find That—and Why Did You Buy It?

Gen Z loves online reviews. When learning about new products, Gen Z trusts online reviews the most—at 28%—above family and friends (19%) or social media (16%). This preference is notable as it indicates a reliance on online communities—but also because it points to how Gen Z seamlessly blends digital and physical. Per Mintel, 54% of Gen Zers prefer shopping in-store (compare that to 47% of Millennials), but they augment their in-store experience with digital sparkle (technology) and other digital users.


What else draws Gen Z in-store? 26% like to see and touch products, 18% enjoy shopping with friends and family (it’s social!), 14% like to try on products, and 14% enjoy the instant gratification of in-person shopping. Of course, online shopping still plays a huge role, and 59% of Gen Zers like the online experience because of its incredible convenience. As Gen Zers continue to enter the workforce—and their lives get busier—dollars may shift to digital as they need to save time.


When it comes to conversion, Gen Z favors quality above all else when purchasing personal care, food and beverage, and beauty products. This is a clear message to brands to focus on product. Price matters too—it is the second most important aspect in a personal care purchase. Meanwhile, with a nod to holistic wellness, ingredients are second in importance to quality in both the beauty and food and beverage sectors. In a twist, company values ranked low in the list of importance for all three categories. We know Gen Zers like companies with shared values—and consider that in their purchases—but values do take a back seat to quality, ingredients, and price.


Dollars and Sense

As the financial aftershocks of essentially stopping and re-starting the economy continue in the form of inflation, a strong dollar, and a string of supply chain crises, Gen Z is understandably concerned about their financial situation. 50% say they feel they will be able to support themselves financially for the rest of their lives—compared to 64% of the greater population. 61% say that saving money is more important now, post-COVID, and many have set aspirational goals for the next five years like buying a car, house, apartment, or condo. Pre-COVID it was suspected Gen Zers would be financially cautious—they were impacted at a young age by the Great Recession—and that seems to have held true.

But Gen Zers still like things—57% prefer spending money on tangible items over the 43% who choose experiences. For greater detail we asked: where does your discretionary spending go? 32% reported beauty, followed by apparel (20%), and experiences (19%). And when it comes to those beauty purchases, 49% love a mix of high and low-priced brands and products. 38% describe themselves as “cheerfully cheap”—they look for the best bargains. Only 13% said they consider themselves “bougie and bold,” preferring only luxury items. For the beauty industry, this suggests that a healthy blend of prestige, mass, and value brands will work now—and in the future.


Next in our series on Gen Z we’ll dive into media habits and future outlook—connect with us and never miss a thought leadership piece!


Notes & Additional Sources

*Our Glimmer research includes those 18 and over

eMarketer, “Resident Population in the United States in 2021, by Generation,” 2021, Mintel, “Marketing to Gen Z, U.S.,” 2022, Glimmer Survey 2022


Strategy Glimmer Trending