Gen Z Shoppers Like to Try New Brands

The digitally native demographic values authenticity, experimentation and personalization.

May 28, 2021

CHICAGO—What can retailers and brands do to win over Gen Z, a new generation of shoppers that accounts for 20% of all U.S. consumers and has $143 billion of direct buying power? “Gen Z presents tremendous opportunities for brands and retailers, but these digitally native, fiercely independent consumers approach shopping with very different expectations than prior generations,” said Lynne Gillis, principal of survey and segmentation practice at IRI, in a press release about IRI and The Female Quotient’s new white paper, “Understand Me, Don’t Define Me.”

“Gen Z expects brands to be authentic and understand them as unique individuals to earn their dollars. It’s a challenge to build loyalty among a generation whose digital prowess enables them to constantly discover and experiment and who value the freedom to continually reinvent themselves. To win, brands must understand Gen Z’s fluid needs and motivations, develop authentic, purpose-driven brand messages and prioritize connecting with shoppers on the digital platforms—like TikTok, Snap, and YouTube—that most influence them,” Gillis said.

Key highlights include how discovery has an outsized role in shaping Gen Z’s brand and shopping experiences as they begin their lifetime journey of shopping—and those marketers who are sensitive to the enjoyment that stems from the process of discovery are more likely to capture the attention of Gen Z. More than half of Gen Zers say they love to try different brands, compared with only 35% who say they are brand-loyal.

Connecting through social media and sharing product discoveries is a powerful part of Gen Z’s path to purchase. Fifty-nine percent of Gen Z shoppers say organic recommendations from family and friends are more likely to influence an actual purchase than any other way that Gen Z may learn about a product or brand.

“Across the brand we examined, those that connect with Gen Z drive, on average, 14 times greater dollar growth opportunity than that seen for other generations, underscoring how critical a keen understanding of Gen Z is for businesses seeking growth,” said Jennifer Pelino, executive vice president, IRI Media Center of Excellence.

“Our research shows overwhelmingly that Gen Z is looking for brands that take the time to get to know them, and embrace the continuous evolution in their preferences,” added Janis Gilman, head of research at The Female Quotient, in a press release. “In continuing our research—both qualitative and quantitative, in partnership with IRI—we can enable brands to anticipate, respond to, and innovate on the needs of this powerful new generation, while serving our mission of promoting equality and authentic change that Gen Z so deeply embraces.”