We’re back with more insight into Gen Z, and this time we will be looking into their shopping habits, and what they are most likely to spend their money on. 

With so much content shifting from physical to digital, like books and movies, Gen Z has different money spending patterns than older generations.

While Millennials prioritize spending their money on travel and experiences, and later homes and furniture, Gen Z prioritizes electronics, health, and wellness.

Gen Z prioritizes electronics, health, and wellness when it comes to spending their money.

According to a 2021 Consumer Culture Report, here are the top 5 things that Gen Z is spending their money on.

Top 5 Things Generation Z Spends Money On

1 | Electronics and Technology

This includes gaming consoles, smartphones, and wearable technology like Fitbit trackers and Apple watches.

Zoomers are especially willing to splurge on technology goods that will elevate their gaming. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Z males say that gaming is a “core component” of their identity.

As mentioned in our previous Zoomer piece, our Gen Z audience spent a total of $1.2M on game-related purchases in the past 12 months!

2 | Discounted Goods

Zoomers love a bargain and will do their research and wait out the best deal. Google alerts, shopping app extensions that show the price history, and the explosive popularity in buying secondhand all enable Generation Z to get the best price.

Zoomers came of age during the Recession, or during its wake. Zoomers care, therefore, more about price than value. Many state they would rather “have money in the bank than be broke” from buying nicer brands.

That said, Gen Zers aren’t averse to using the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) model with services like AfterPay. 14% of Gen Zers use this payment option, and they are on track to surpass the Millennials for their adoption of the BNPL model.

This comes as no surprise, as our research revealed that Gen Z and Millenial consumers are more likely to have used BNPL previously (40-45% vs. 21-33% of Gen X and Boomers).

Outside of shopping for the best deals from retailers, Zoomers love shopping secondhand for furniture, home decor, and clothing.

When asked their favorite places to buy any clothing (new or used), responses regularly include Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers, Unique, and local thrift shops, Poshmark, ThredUp, Buy Sell groups on Facebook and Mercari.

This could be because there is some pressure for Zoomers to be an “intentional” consumer and make eco-conscious purchases to reduce environmental impact.

Our own survey we recently conducted supports this theory; we learned that Gen Z and Millennials are the generations most apt to pay more for products that are environmentally sustainable (46-51%) and/or organic (48-49%).

If you want to get Zoomers to spend their money on your brand, you need to highlight its better quality and more ethically made than other competitors.

3 | Health and Wellness

Zoomers are more concerned with mental health and physical health than older generations. They admire celebrities like Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Meghan Markle who openly talk about their struggles with mental health.

While Zoomers still indulge in the occasional Big Mac (62% of Gen Zers have eaten at McDonald’s in the past six months), they are less likely than other older generations to eat fast food.

Generation Z is more open to trying alternative or natural health wellness remedies, using Cannabis for physical and mental health benefits, and more concerned with food waste and ethical food sourcing issues. From soil conservation to animal welfare, they care about all aspects of the plant and animal food chains.

When it comes to generational differences, our recent survey showed that while six-in-ten consumers overall indicate that sustainability does not factor into their daily diet choices, around one-in-three indicate they eat less meat and the environment/sustainability plays a role in this decision (32%, rising to 42% of Gen Z).

4 | Local Shops and Small Businesses

Zoomers care about supporting local businesses and small retailers. AfterPay reported Gen Z spending more dollars on small businesses and online boutiques than Millennials and older generations.

Gen Z cares about helping small businesses survive the economic impact of the Pandemic. Already small business-friendly, a 2021 study found that nearly 50% of Gen Z shoppers say they purchase more now from small businesses than they did before the outbreak of Covid-19.

That same study found that Gen Z is more open to sharing their Internet and social media data with small businesses. Consumers are more likely to give their email address, cell phone number, or social media information (liking or following a brand) in exchange for a discount.

5 | Education and Upskilling

Gen Z is on track to be the most highly educated generation. They’re set to surpass the Millennials as the generation with the highest level of post-secondary education.

Gen Zers start saving for their college earlier than Millennials did at a comparable age. Perhaps because they were in high school, and younger, during the Recession and stories of debt-ridden graduates filled the nightly news.

In addition to college, Gen Z is more likely to invest in educational training and upskilling. Gen Zers embrace online learning platforms like Outschool, LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. The LinkedIn platform reports Generation Z watch 50% more hours of educational content than other age groups, and will spend 12% more time honing their skills than other LinkedIn learners.

Members of Generation Z aren’t changing their habits to shift to video tutorials and online learning. This is their everyday life and how they have come of age.

What Are Gen Z’s Shopping Habits?

Price and shared brand values trump other influencers, like brand status or what friends, celebrities, and Influencers are wearing.

“I’m too poor to buy cheap things.”

When it comes to shopping habits, here’s what Gen Z cares about:

  • More online options: Zoomers are 38% more likely to want more online fashion shopping options than Millennials and Gen Xers
  • More in-store options: Zoomers are also 50% more likely to want to shop for more fashion in store than Millennials and Gen Xers.
  • More fashion choices and shopping options, overall, and will go online or offline to get them.
  • Fluidity of identity: offerings that do not box Zoomers into prescribed boxes for gender, sexuality, or other identity “labels”. With clothing, that means more gender inclusivity. Many new retailers label garments only by category (i.e. tops, bottoms, outerwear). Established brands like GAP, Banana Republic, and H&M are offering gender neutral collections for men and women. As Zoomers become the new generation of parents, they’ll crave more gender neutral baby clothes options. Some may boycott brands that label their items as “boy clothes” or “girl clothes”.
  • High-quality: Zoomers want high-quality that’s culturally on-trend, but are more frugal. They’re willing to shop cross-channel (online or in-store) or secondhand to get what they want at an affordable price.
  • Value and affordability: While not averse to BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) options like Afterpay, Sezzle, or Quadpay, Generation Z is frugal. They track price history and buy at the best time. They embrace buying secondhand. Whatever it takes to get the best, long-lasting quality at the lowest price. As one Zoomer put it in a casual conversation with this article’s author, “I’m too poor to buy cheap things.”
  • Supporting ethical brands: Zoomers want to support brands that are ethical, sustainable, and have a philanthropic mission or cause. Brands perceived to “take a stand” or “do the right thing” are well-regarded. After price, a brand’s “shared values” is the second most important point of consideration for Zoomers.
  • Supporting positive brands: Zoomers like supporting positive brands who can captivate and inspire them online and offline with an uplifting message. This includes images and stores of inclusivity (weight, shape, age, race, disability, gender).

Brands that Gen Zers Gravitate Towards

While Gen Zers care about price and social values (like buying used and being environmentally conscientious), there are some brands that Generation Zers shop en masse.

Within the past 6 months, nearly half of all Gen Zers have made a Nike purchase. And 1 in 3 Gen Zers (30% to 33.2%) have made a purchase from these brands:

  • Forever 21
  • Adidas
  • Vans
  • Old Navy

Our Gen Zers alone spent over $1M in fashion purchases over the last 12 months, including Old Navy and Forever 21!

Is Gen Z Brand Loyal?

There are many brands that Generation Z is enthusiastic about, but overall, Generation Z is not as brand loyal as other generations.

Brand Enthusiasm Over Brand Loyalty

For the average Gen Zer may, repeat engagements with a brand may not mean repeat purchases. Their enthusiasm for a brand (sharing and engaging with social content) does not always extend back to their wallet.

Gen Zers are more likely to switch and buy from a competitor brand because they can.

The speed at which Generation Z can discover new (often online only) brands on TikTok, Instagram, and other social media is staggering. It’s not enough to capture their interest with one memorable Super Bowl ad; you need to constantly re-engage with Generation Z and change up the dynamics of how you’re doing it.

Nostalgia is still huge. 59% of Generation Zers say they trust brands that they grow up with and repeatedly shop these brands. While you can’t go back in time to their toddler years, brands can find ways to inflect themselves into their psyche during early adulthood.

If you’re looking to connect to our consumer base, 22% of which include Gen Zers, contact us today!

Blog Authors

Katie Crockford

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Stacy Garrels

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