Gen Z shopping habits & behaviours | Clear Channel

Gen Z shopping habits: What advertisers need to know

Every generation brings with it new ways of doing things, including novel shopping habits. And with a new generation firmly on its way to overtaking Millennials as the largest by population, it’s time to learn about Generation Z’s shopping habits and what they mean for you as an advertiser. 


Who are Gen Z and why should you care about them? 

Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, is generally considered to consist of everybody born between 1996 and 2010. It’s the second youngest generation, with only Generation Alpha (2010-2024) following on, so far.  

It’s currently the fourth largest generation by population – behind the Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers – with an estimated 12.6 million members of Gen Z in the UK. But there are already 4.3 million members of Gen Z in the UK workforce, and they’re set to be the majority in the near future. 

Gen Z’s identity was heavily influenced by digital technology. They were overwhelmingly raised within the context of the internet, which likely played a large role in shaping their habits at large, including the way they shop. 

But there are plenty of other important factors to consider when it comes to Gen Z, including the economically uncertain period they were raised during, their general opinions on social matters, and the climate anxiety that underpins their young adulthood.  

Four important Gen Z shopping habits 

Here are four of the most critical Gen Z shopping habits and behaviours, and how you can learn from them to improve the impact of your advertising campaigns targeting Gen Z audiences. 

They’re cross-channel by nature 

Gen Z is the most tech-savvy of the current adult generations. They were raised with technology as an integral part of daily life and became comfortable with switching between devices at a young age. 

Their journey through the buying funnel often involves multiple touchpoints, both digital and physical, so they can be reached in diverse ways. That means they’re the perfect target audience for cross-channel marketing.  

Accordingly, cross-channel activation opportunities are hugely important to capturing and holding Gen Z customers’ attention. This should influence the way you approach advertising across all channels. 

Whereas a traditional static billboard advertisement might be enough to pique the interest of a Baby Boomer consumer, Gen Z consumers will delve deeper through independent research. In this example, adding a QR code to the ad creative to take them to a webpage where they can get answers to their questions is a practical way of adapting the channel to suit Gen Z. 

Retail spaces remain vital 

Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z has not abandoned the concept of physical retail. Although the share of total retail sales contributed by online stores rose considerably from 2006 to 2020, Office for National Statistics data implies that it might have plateaued at around 25%

Clear Channel data adds more colour to the story – revealing that 81% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers think shopping malls are a good place to learn about new products and brands, and that 50% like making purchases in physical stores because it’s less hassle than shopping online.  

In other words, Gen Z consumers are still going out to shop, which means that Out of Home advertising in shopping malls, high streets, and supermarkets is a critical component of any campaign targeting the cohort. 

In fact, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are far more open to seeing OOH ads in physical retail locations than on social media, and 65% of them are more likely to choose to buy products advertised in the retail locations they visit. 

Dynamic content captures their attention 

Gen Z consumers carry their preferences when it comes to media over into their shopping behaviours. Where the book has arguably fallen to the TV show, the static advertisement has fallen to the dynamic one. 

The rise of dynamic content as an integral part of marketing to Gen Z can be seen across diverse channels. In the online space, for example, it’s widely accepted that dynamic video content is one of the most powerful mediums because of its ability to engage, which is particularly important as Gen Z  becomes the majority.  

This translates to Out of Home advertising, too. To make an impact on a Gen Z audience, static ad creative should be replaced with dynamic content leveraging all of the possibilities Digital Out of Home screens offer.  

Clear Channel data shows that dynamic content on digital billboards captures the attention of 55% of Gen Z consumers – a rare capability given the general perception of the difficulty of that task. 

They have different values 

Finally, Generation Z shoppers are more concerned with entirely different factors than their predecessors when it comes to making purchasing decisions, which are important to take into account when designing ad creative. 

Data shows that the biggest differences between Gen Z and the rest of the population in this regard are that they value brand authenticity more, seek greater transparency from advertising, and care more about product affordability. Each of these values should be translated in efforts to target the cohort. 

What that means depends on what you’re advertising, and how. But, using Out of Home as an example, adapting to these values may involve generating ad creative with a greater focus on conveying brand values than communicating product features, and promotion of cost-effectiveness where relevant. 

Advertising for Gen Z: Online and Out of Home 

Gen Z, like all of the generations that came before and all that will follow, is not a monolith. But there are clearly observable differences in how they shop and what they care about, which effective advertisers will take on board.  

Adopting a cross-channel approach that acknowledges Gen Z’s digital nativeness while also leveraging their interest in physical retail spaces is an effective place to start.  

To get there, you can take advantage of the Clear Channel network – one of the UK’s largest Out of Home media networks. Get in touch with us today to learn how you can use our network to target your Gen Z audience. 

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