Gen Z shopping in-store more often than online

A new segment-specific survey also finds that purchases are more influenced by friends and family than by influencers.
Gen Z

Marketers should bear in mind that Gen Zers continue to value in-store shopping and are highly influenced by their peers when it comes to purchase decisions, according to new research by marketing agency Amplify conducted in partnership with The Globe and Mail.

The Understanding Gen Z report, released today, is based on a survey of more than 1,200 Canadians aged 16 to 23, conducted between January and March, with questions covering a wide array of topics, including the demo’s values, political views, finances and media consumption. It attempts to address what Amplify felt was a dearth of segment-specific research in Canada (the agency focuses on marketing to post-secondary students, but has recently started looking at the larger youth market).

For members of the cohort, price and quality remain the two most important drivers of purchase decisions at 94% and 92%, respectively. Those factors are followed by social responsibility (42%), familiarity (described as “I’ve been using the product my whole life”, at 39%) and the brand name (34%).

Moreover, the influence of close friends (81%), family (73%) and online reviewers (62%) outweigh that of any other group, including influencers (17%) and celebrities (10%). While there is a tendency to think that Gen Zers have limited brand loyalty, according to Amplify, nearly 50% say they are brand loyal, with only one in five saying they are not (34% percent of respondents say it depends on the category).

The report also reveals what may come as a surprise to those who believe Gen Zers have a one-sided tendency to shop online. When asked where they would normally make their purchases, 45% of respondents said in store, compared to just 10% online. A total of 39% said their shopping is split eventually between the two.

But while in-store purchases may still be popular with the segment, the internet’s influence is still strongly felt, as researching products online pre-purchase is something 80% of respondents do. Seventy-three percent will watch or read reviews online, and a further 54% will discuss their options with friends.

Amplify set out to identify trends among the first generation to grow up with the internet and cell phones, and one that was heavily influenced by the 2008 financial crisis, said Amplify CEO Kieran Mathew in a release. As a result of these factors, he said the segment is “future-focused, keen to carve a practical career path and very entrepreneurial.”

For example, nearly half of respondents planned to obtain a Master’s degree, doctorate or post-graduate certification, and the same proportion indicated already have a “clear plan” or being “roughly aware” of what they would like to do in the future. Thirty-two percent identified as being self-employed in some form.