Discover the current landscape of the US Gen Z online shopping market, and discover trends and opportunities within this sector. This report examines Gen Z online shopping behaviors, attitudes towards shopping online, and the impact of economic factors on Gen Z adults and teens. Use Mintel’s market intelligence to become more informed and able to tackle the challenges facing your industry. Read on to discover our insights.

Gen Z Online Shopping Market Landscape

Gen Z are avid online shoppers who, thanks to smartphones, are able to shop anywhere, anytime. According to Mintel’s comprehensive market research, 79% of Gen Z adults and 71% of Gen Z teens used a smartphone to shop online in the past 12 months. This consumer behavior has created an opportunity for brands and retailers to utilize online channels to drive discovery, engagement and, ultimately, purchases.

However, the negative economic outlook has impacted Gen Z’s online spending habits. Gen Z consumers are likely to make use of online channels to search out the best deals, so brands and retailers will need to be seen to deliver value, be it through promos, free shipping, or flexible payment plans. Beyond product price, a key area of concern for Gen Z when shopping online is social responsibility. Moving forward, brands and retailers will find themselves increasingly challenged around key areas of concern for Gen Z.

Gen Z Online Shopping Industry Trends

Gen Z teens and adults are in different phases of their lives and therefore differ when it comes to spending habits and sources of spending money, with teens heavily reliant on their parents. But largely, Gen Z have a similar set of consumer behaviors, attitudes, and expectations when it comes to shopping online.

  • Gen Z consumer behaviors: Gen Z is savvy when it comes to saving, with 47% of adults and 34% of teens looking for coupons on deal sites before completing a purchase.
  • Gen Z consumer attitudes: Gen Zs care about more than products: 66% of Gen Z adults and 67% of teens like brands that support important causes.
  • Online retail industry opportunities: 58% of Gen Z teens are interested in Metaverse experiences, and 52% are interested in learning more about NFTs. This opens up new worlds of opportunities to include digital offerings to appeal to Gen Z consumers.

Online Shopping Future Trends and Opportunities

Social media will continue to play a large role in the future of online shopping. Social media platforms and digital offerings present unique opportunities to appeal to Gen Z consumers. Moving forward, brands and retailers will want to maximize their presence on existing and emerging platforms. 

In order to appeal to Gen Z consumers in the current economic landscape, brands and retailers will need to remain focused on delivering value. In addition to promos and discounts, brands and retailers can look to attract Gen Zs through offerings such as free shipping or a convenient returns policy, which are amongst the most important factors for Gen Z consumers when shopping online. 

Despite the difficult economic conditions, Gen Z remains a socially responsible generation that values diversity. In order to win over consumers, brands and retailers will want to address and support issues such as health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and employee welfare, which are key areas of concern for this generation.

To discover more about our US Gen Z Online Shopping Habits Report 2022, read our US Social Commerce Report 2023, or take a look at our other Retail Industry Market Research.

Quickly Understand

  • The impact of economic factors on Gen Z adults and teens.
  • Gen Z online shopping behaviors.
  • Item purchases and retailers shopped.
  • Social media behaviors.
  • Attitudes toward shopping online and brand efforts.
  • Interest and usage of digital offerings.

Popular Brands Covered in this Report:

Amazon, Puma, PacSun, McDonald’s, Levi’s, Kohl’s, MAC Cosmetics, Patagonia, Tiffany & Co, Champion, Walmart, Dove.

Expert Analysis from a Retail Analyst

This report, written by Marisa Ortega, a leading analyst in the retail industry, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the US Online retail market and add expert context to the numbers.

Gen Zs have unique interests, behaviors and expectations when they shop. Brands and retailers looking to target and appeal to them will want to tailor shopping experiences and product offerings to meet their needs and preferences. Moving forward, the various forms of value and technology that enhances and makes shopping fun, as well as ethical practices will all be important to better appeal to Gen Z consumers.

Marisa OrtegaMarisa Ortega
Retail and eCommerce Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Audience overview
      • Figure 1: Population by generation, 2021
      • Figure 2: Population by generation, 2016-26
      • Figure 3: Generations, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 4: Audience outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Deliver value to support consumers in challenging times
    • Lean on digital offerings to spark interest with Gen Zs
    • Leverage social media platforms to engage Gen Zs at each part of their purchase journey
    • Key consumer insights
  3. Target Audience by the Numbers

    • Gen Z is one of the fastest growing generations
      • Figure 5: Population by generation, 2021
      • Figure 6: Population by generation, 2016-26
      • Figure 7: Gen Z, population by age, 2021
    • Diversity, equity and inclusion are a focal point
      • Figure 8: Generations, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
  4. Market Factors

    • Negative economic outlook impacts Gen Zs’ spending
      • Figure 9: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, 2007-22
      • Figure 10: Consumer Price Index change from previous year, 2020-22
      • Figure 11: Unemployment rate, 2020-22
    • There is a different approach to credit shaping how young consumers shop
    • Utilize technology to attract Gen Zs
    • A generation that has lost human connection
    • Contribute to transforming the society toward a low-carbon and climate- resilient future
  5. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Puma invites participation and criticism from consumers, highlights opportunity to directly engage with Gen Z
      • Figure 12: Puma engages consumers through a social event, 2022
    • Pac Sun effectively utilizes TikTok; leverage social media to establish a relatable brand identity, drive sales and loyalty
      • Figure 13: Pacsun takes an active role among the TikTok community, 2022
    • Kohl’s and Levi’s launch 90s-style collection and tap into nostalgia to appeal to Gen Zs
      • Figure 14: Levi’s and Kohl’s inspire consumers with 90s fashion, 2022
  6. The Gen Z Consumer – Fast Facts

  7. Online Shopping Frequency

    • Gen Zs are active online shoppers
      • Figure 15: Online shopping frequency, 2022
    • The online channel makes shopping more accessible to females
      • Figure 16: Online shopping frequency, by gender 2022
  8. Devices Used to Shop Online

    • Mobile commerce is critical among Gen Zs
      • Figure 17: Devices used to shop online, 2022
      • Figure 18: McDonald’s leverages mobile app to attract and drive loyalty with younger consumers, 2022
    • Preference for devices to shop online vary by gender
      • Figure 19: Devices used to shop online, by gender, 2022
  9. Source of Spending Money

    • Parents provide for their kids; females are more resourceful at getting money
      • Figure 20: Source of spending money, Gen Z – Teens, by gender and age, 2022
    • Multicultural teens have to earn their money
      • Figure 21: Source of spending money, Gen Z teens, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
      • Figure 22: Instacart lets consumers shop together through a family account, 2022
  10. Items Purchased

    • Gen Z shops across a variety of categories, with the most shopped being discretionary
      • Figure 23: Items purchased, 2022
    • Gender influences the type of items Gen Z consumers gravitate to
      • Figure 24: Items purchased, by gender, 2022
      • Figure 25: Dove drives awareness about self-esteem, 2022
    • Multicultural teens are cautious about where they put their dollars
      • Figure 26: Items purchased, Gen Z teens, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
  11. Retailers Shopped

    • Offer convenient and seamless shopping experiences tailored to Gen Zs’ specific needs
      • Figure 27: Retailers shopped, 2022
      • Figure 28: Bonobos launches Bonobos Fielder to appeal to Gen Z, 2022
    • Category interest impacts shopping differences by gender
      • Figure 29: Retailers shopped, by gender, 2022
    • Specialty retailers stand out for multicultural teens
      • Figure 30: Retailers shopped, Gen Z teens, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
  12. Source of Knowledge

    • Gen Zs learn about products in various ways, with social media having a large influence
      • Figure 31: Sources of information, 2022
      • Figure 32: e.l.f. Cosmetics leverages rising popularity of BeReal platform, 2022
    • Gender plays a role in the discovery process
      • Figure 33: Sources of information, by gender, 2022
      • Figure 34: Champion partners with Saweetie to appeal to Gen Z females, 2022
  13. Shopping Behavior

    • Gen Z is savvy when it comes to saving
      • Figure 35: Shopping behavior, 2022
    • Multicultural teens have a greater need of deals and payment flexibility
      • Figure 36: Shopping behavior, Gen Z teens, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
      • Figure 37: Shopping behavior, Gen Z adults, by race, 2022
  14. Important Factors when Shopping Online

    • Gen Zs’ online shopping behaviors will continue to evolve
      • Figure 38: Important factors when shopping online, Gen Z adults, 2022
      • Figure 39: Important factors when shopping online, Gen Z teens, 2022
    • Females take a more conscious approach when shopping
      • Figure 40: Important factors when shopping online, Gen Z adults, by gender, 2022
      • Figure 41: Important factors when shopping online, Gen Z teens, by gender, 2022
  15. Online Shopping Attitudes

    • Knowledge about their options is key for Gen Zs
      • Figure 42: Online shopping attitudes – Path to purchase, 2022
    • Logistics and enjoyable online shopping experiences will continue to be important to appeal to Gen Z
      • Figure 43: Online shopping attitudes – Shopping preferences, 2022
    • Gen Z is looking for alternative and meaningful ways to shop
      • Figure 44: Gen Z For Change speaks out against Amazon, 2022
      • Figure 45: Online shopping attitudes – Circular offerings and CSR efforts, 2022
    • Social media is a lot like going to the mall
      • Figure 46: Online shopping attitudes – Select responses: social media, 2022
  16. Social Media Behaviors

    • Gen Zs are active on social media
      • Figure 47: Social media behaviors, 2022
      • Figure 48: Kind snacks utilizes TikTok to attract consumers to a pop-up, 2022
    • Multicultural teens are actively engaged on social media platforms
      • Figure 49: Social media behaviors, Gen Z teens, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
    • Gen Z is prime audience for social commerce
      • Figure 50: Social commerce behaviors, 2022
  17. Interest in Digital Offerings

    • Despite lower usage rates currently, digital offerings are of interest to Gen Z
      • Figure 51: MAC Cosmetics launches NFT collection with charitable component, 2022
      • Figure 52: Interest in digital offerings – NFTs, 2022
      • Figure 53: Interest in digital offerings – Metaverse, 2022
      • Figure 54: Pacsun gamifies shopping in the metaverse, 2022
    • Affinity for tech impacts teens’ interest in digital offerings
      • Figure 55: Interest in digital offerings, Gen Z – Adults, by gender, 2022
      • Figure 56: Interest in digital offerings, Gen Z – Teens by gender 2022
  18. Attitudes toward Sustainability

    • Companies need to practice what they preach to earn Gen Z trust
      • Figure 57: Attitudes toward sustainability, Gen Z adults, 2022
      • Figure 58: Attitudes toward sustainability, Gen Z teens, 2022
      • Figure 59: Patagonia furthers its commitment to fighting the climate crisis, 2022
    • Multicultural Gen Z consumers want to know about brands’ sustainable commitment
      • Figure 60: Attitudes toward sustainability, Gen Z adults, by race, 2022
      • Figure 61: Attitudes toward sustainability, Gen Z teens, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
  19. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  20. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 62: Gen Z, by gender, 2021

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


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