US Gen Z: Online Shopping Behaviours Market Report 2021
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“Generation Z is a large, and growing, consumer group looking to wield their spending power to make change. With already over $140 billion in spending capabilities, Gen Z is a…

US Gen Z: Online Shopping Behaviours Market Report 2021

£ 3,695 (Excl.Tax)


This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the Gen Z online shopping behaviors market including Gen Z online shopping behaviors market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the Gen Z online shopping behaviors market in the US.

Current market landscape

Generation Z is one of the most important groups for brands to connect with in the coming years, especially as they are only just starting to establish their online shopping behaviors. Having grown up as digital natives, they already expect efficient and flexible online shopping options, as well as for brands to meet them where they are.

Market share and key Gen Z shopping industry trends

  • Gen Z teens and adults are avid online shoppers. Within the last 12 months, 91% of Gen Z adults and 87% of teens shopped online. They are heavily reliant on their mobile devices – particularly smartphones – when shopping online. 80% of Gen Z teens use a smartphone when browsing, with 71% using smartphones to buy; for Gen Z adults, 82% use these devices to browse and 79% to buy. Computers (desktop/laptop) are the next most commonly used device for both groups. Notably, Gen Z teens are more likely than Gen Z adults to use tablets – 29% to browse, 25% to buy (compared to 18% and 12% respectively for Gen Z adults).
  • Asking parents for money is the most common way teens get their spending money (61%). Other methods include receiving money/gift cards as gifts (51%), receiving a regular allowance (49%), informal jobs (27%) or a formal job with a paycheck (20%).
  • Clothing and footwear are leading categories Gen Z teens and adults shop for online (64%, 46% for Gen Z teens; 69%, 46% for Gen Z adults). Other top categories for teens include entertainment (46%), food/snacks (40%), and electronics (36%); for adults: entertainment (43%), beauty products (42%) and personal care products (39%). The focus on individual style/appearance and personal health are driving factors in what these groups shop for.

Future market trends in Gen Z online shopping behaviors

Gen Z will make up a larger portion of the US adult population in the coming years, growing 6.8% between 2016 and 2026. This generation also has a large Hispanic and black population, meaning that diversity and equality initiatives will continue to be a major concern for them, as well as sustainability.

With over half of Gen Z currently being teenagers, brands have the opportunity to engage with them early on in order to establish trust into their adulthood. Personalized services, as well as DEI initiatives and establishing welcoming communities are key ways to build up a positive image among this demographic.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our US Retail market research.

Quickly understand Gen Z shopping habits

  • The impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z adults and teens.
  • The need to connect with teens early as they start their shopping exploration.
  • Promoting DEI and sustainability initiatives to appeal to Gen Z.

Covered in this Gen Z online shopping report

Brands: Poshmark, Aerie, Nike, Amaro, Amazon, Burger King, Pacsun, American Eagle, Gucci, Bankrate, Freddie Mac, Klarna, Apple Pay, Puma, TikTok, Levi’s, Kohl’s, McDonald’s, Instacart, Walmart, Dove, .

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Katie Yackey, a leading analyst in the Food and Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current Gen Z online shopping habits and add expert context to the numbers.

Generation Z is a large, and growing, consumer group looking to wield their spending power to make change. With already over $140 billion in spending capabilities, Gen Z is a generation that knows what it wants and isn’t afraid to tell brands and retailers how to meet their needs. Diversity, equity, inclusion and sustainability will be key areas of focus for this generation as they look to make change for underserved communities and promote a healthy environment for the generations to follow them. Moving forward, digital tools and social media will be key components in allowing Gen Z to engage with brands, learn about their values, and enjoy the personal, seamless, and convenient shopping experiences they crave.

Katie Yackey

Retail & eCommerce Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Population by generations, 2021
      • Figure 2: Distribution of generations by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z
      • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z, April 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Gen Z spending power is massive; yet, spending remains scaled back – for now
    • Using social to connect, play, and shop
    • Establishing communities
    • Incorporating tech to entice Gen Z
  3. Gen Z Consumers – Key Takeaways

    • Gen Z takes up its fair share of space within generations
    • Diversity is central to Gen Z
    • Being environmentally friendly is a must
  4. Gen Z Consumers by the Numbers

    • Gen Z by the Numbers
      • Figure 4: Population by generations, 2021
    • Gen Z Demographic Breakdown
      • Figure 5: Distribution of generations by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 6: Gen Z age breakdown: Teens v. Adults, 2021
      • Figure 7: Gen Z gender breakdown, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z
    • Learnings from the Great Recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Even as digital natives, Gen Z wants to feel safe online
    • Gen Z looks for work to get them back on track
      • Figure 8: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007- January 2021
    • Tech: platforms for connection
    • Gen Z: The conscious consumer
    • Silence is not an option for Gen Z
    • Gen Z expects brands to do their part for the environment
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Offering options for sustainability
    • Incorporating Gen Z into R&D
    • Offering ways for Gen Z to shop as best for them
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Poshmark entices Gen Z to shop sustainably and turn a profit
      • Figure 9: Shopping smart with Poshmark
    • Focusing on DEI with Aerie
      • Figure 10: AerieREAL-ness Campaign
    • Livestream shopping with Instagram
  8. Market Opportunities

    • The need for sustainability
    • Involving Gen Z in the research process
    • Fostering online communities
    • Rising popularity of NFTs creates opportunities with Gen Z consumers
    • Using gaming to reach Gen Z
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Connecting early with Gen Z teens
    • Family plans provide freedom and flexibility
    • Helping Gen Z find their communities
    • Gen Z: Cash-strapped and looking for opportunities
  10. Understanding Gen Z Adults and Teens

    • Online shopping is priority for Gen Z
      • Figure 11: Online shopping frequency, February 2021
    • COVID-19 encouraged even more online shoppers
      • Figure 12: Online shopping pre/post COVID-19, Gen Z adults, February 2021
      • Figure 13: Online shopping pre/post COVID-19, Gen Z teens, February 2021
    • Opportunity to drive Gen Z shopping online across categories
      • Figure 14: Products bought online, February 2021
    • Teen Spotlight: Parents are still heavily involved in purchases
      • Figure 15: Who pays for items, February 2021
      • Figure 16: Teen spending money, February 2021
  11. Retailers Shopped

    • Amazon’s dominance is helped by family plans
      • Figure 17: Where shopped, February 2021
    • Social media is a main meeting spot for Gen Z adults and brands
    • Men enjoy ease and convenience; women enjoy exploration
      • Figure 18: Where shopped – Gen Z adult, by gender, February 2021
    • Building relationships early with teens of both genders
      • Figure 19: Where shopped – Gen Z teen, by gender, February 2021
  12. Learning and Information

    • Building trusted communities for teens and adults
      • Figure 20: Sources of information, February 2021
    • Gen Z Adults: women turn to personal sources; men find their own answers
      • Figure 21: Sources of information, Gen Z adults by gender, February 2021
      • Figure 22: Glossier product showcase
    • Gen Z teens seek peer approval as they establish their habits
      • Figure 23: Sources of information – Gen Z teens, by gender, February 2021
  13. Behaviors and Important Factors When Shopping Online

    • Gen Z will put in effort to find a deal
      • Figure 24: Actions before purchase, February 2021
    • Gen Z expects a superb overall experience
      • Figure 25: Important factors when shopping online, February 2021
    • Providing adults with convenient experiences at all angles
      • Figure 26: Top important factors, Gen Z adults, February 2021
    • Providing more fun for teens
      • Figure 27: Top important factors, Gen Z teens, February 2021
  14. Attitudes toward Shopping Online

    • Research, information, and search process
    • Gen Z Adults explore their options before making a final decision
      • Figure 28: Attitudes toward shopping online –Research, information, and search process, Gen Z adults, February 2021
    • Teens investigate flexible options, for them and their parents
      • Figure 29: Attitudes toward shopping online – Research, information, and search process, Gen Z teens, February 2021
    • Brand values
    • Gen Z adults stick to their values
      • Figure 30: Attitudes toward shopping online – Brand values, Gen Z adults, February 2021
      • Figure 31: Nike Refurbished
    • Gen Z Teens are still establishing what they believe and who they trust
      • Figure 32: Attitudes toward shopping online – Brand values, Gen Z teens, February 2021
    • Shopping behaviors
    • Adults need brands to be a skillful partner in the shopping process
      • Figure 33: Attitudes toward shopping online – Shopping behaviors, Gen Z adults, February 2021
    • Gen Z Teens want brands to allow them to explore, and give them room for error
      • Figure 34: Attitudes toward shopping online – Shopping behaviors, Gen Z teens, February 2021
    • Social media
    • Gen Z Adults seen convenient benefits of social commerce
      • Figure 35: Attitudes toward shopping online – social media, Gen Z adults, February 2021
    • Gen Z Teens gravitate toward social media for play and purchase
      • Figure 36: Attitudes toward shopping online– social media, Gen Z teens, February 2021
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Generations, if discussed within this Report, are defined as:
  16. Appendix – The Consumer

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