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Gen Z vs Gen X vs Gen Y: Shopping Habits Survey

  • 6th June 2016

Written by Retail Assist


Click here to read our new and updated 2018 Gen Z Shopping Survey.

For the purpose of this blog and infographic, Gen Z refers to those aged 14-21, Gen Y 22-35 and Gen X 36-55. 

Generation Z. Born post-1995, in the age group 14-21, they’ve proved a difficult bunch to define; previously upcoming ‘influencers’ within the retail and hospitality market but now with new-found buying power and a disruptive influence that makes them the most lucrative market to target.

They’re switched on, price conscious, and hyper connected to their surroundings – including social media and technology. They want it now, they won’t wait, and have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips ready to influence their buying decisions.

After researching Gen Y and Gen X shopping habits last year, Retail Assist’s latest survey has revealed some critical information regarding Gen Z shopping habits, and debunked some common myths that might surprise you…

Here are our top 5 takeaways from the survey:

  • The high street is not dead for Gen Z, with 58% of respondents choosing this as their favourite method of shopping.
  • Click and collect is not popular with Gen Z: 61% have never used it.
  • Nearly three quarters of Gen Z don’t have their favourite retailer’s app installed on their smartphone.
  • 73% of Gen Z would made a purchase due to a social media recommendation.
  • When shopping, 84% of Gen Z make it a social activity, i.e. a part of their day out, lunch/coffee/cinema.

Please feel free to share the following full infographic of our findings.

Gen Z vs Gen X vs Gen Y: Shopping Habits Survey Infographic


So, of the Gen Z-ers surveyed, what surprised us here?

High St reigns supreme.

Thought Gen Z was all about the online experience, clicks over bricks, and ecomm dominance? Think again. 58% of those we surveyed prefer to shop on the High Street, the highest percentage of any generation, compared to 40% of Gen Y and 48% of Gen X. Analysing the practical reasons behind this: not many 16y/os have online spending power – unable to transact online without a debit card, most shop with cash. With a lack of patience and a desire to acquire fast fashion “now”, the high street is also the best place to do so with no waiting for deliveries and the ability to take the product literally straight off the shelf.

‘Appy shoppers? Not for Gen Z.

Although Gen Z admit being glued to their smartphones, 74% of them do not have their favourite retailer’s app installed. There are subtleties to be considered with Gen Z: just because they browse for products on their smartphones and devices, this doesn’t mean they desire an app to complete a purchase. The reason? Many of this age range don’t have big enough data contracts on their phones to support multiple app downloads. Instead, they prefer to use their devices to browse social media in order to discover more about product ranges.


What was concretized?

Social media addiction.

Gen Z idols are YouTube stars, vloggers, and Insta-famous fashionistas. They live in constant “FOMO”, fear of missing out, especially when something new is released. And all of this revolves around social media as their primary method of research.

73% of Gen Z would made a purchase due to a social media recommendation, compared to 60% of Gen Y and only 52% of Gen X. For Gen Z, social media is the real targeted sweet-spot for retailers to tap into.

The generation of leisure.

There is a strong synergy between retail and hospitality for Gen Z, reflected in the fact that 84% of those surveyed make shopping a part of their day out, whether than be visiting the cinema, grabbing lunch or a coffee. If Gen Z prefer to hit the high street to shop rather than shop online, this might explain why the shopping experience is viewed as more of a leisure activity. For the younger Gen Z members, having social freedom to venture into their nearby town is often new and exciting, and they demand a retail/hospitality experience to meet that expectation.

This means ensuring that your products are always in stock in the appropriate range of styles and sizes to keep this experience fluid, allowing Gen Z members to browse online and come into your store to purchase. Implementing an efficient retail stock management system is a way for retailers to meet these expectations.

What took you most by surprise about Gen Z and their shopping habits? Do you think retailers need to change their current tactics when it comes to targeting the next generation? Post your comments below.

  • 6th June 2016

Written by Retail Assist

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