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New Research Sheds Light on the Shopping Habits of Generation Z

Instagram tops the list of preferred social platforms for in-app purchases.
Gen Z Shoppers

CHICAGO — A new report from the Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI) reveals that when it comes to social commerce, Instagram takes the top spot among Generation Z.

According to the 2022 Path to Purchase Institute Gen Z Shopping Habits research study, 38 percent of Gen Z rank Instagram as their preferred platform for making in-app purchases. In addition to citing Instagram as the social platform that they engage with daily, the cohort called out the app's ability to make personal recommendations and confidence that the platform protects their identity.

TikTok and Facebook tied for second place for in-app purchases, both at 22 percent.

''Digitally savvy Gen Z, born approximately from 1997-2006, has come of age, boasting strong voices, unique behaviors and sought-after purchasing power," said Jessie Dowd, editorial director, Path to Purchase Institute. "Our report offers insights to help brands and retailers understand Gen Z behaviors from the way they search, browse and shop across channels and platforms to what’s influencing their purchasing decisions."

P2PI research revealed that the Gen Z consumer is truly an omnichannel shopper, fluidly browsing and buying both online and offline. Fifty-one percent of respondents reported that they shop mostly in-store for everyday items, while 27 percent preferred online shopping.

The impact social media has on purchasing everyday items is greatly influenced by what Gen Z sees their personal social circle doing. The activity of friends, family, classmates, and co-workers influences purchases for 75 percent of respondents. Other influences highlighted include:

  • Retailer or brand social activity (64 percent), with 18- to 24-year-olds (67 percent) more influenced than 16- to 17-year-olds (51 percent); and
  • Micro-influencers or celebrities have an overall impact at 42 percent to 47, especially among Hispanic or Black Gen Z shoppers, respectively.

Gen Zers are also engaged shoppers. The cohort is drawn to in-store options that are affordable and offer a one-stop shopping experience, referencing Walmart (49 percent) and Target (19 percent) as its favorite destinations for in-store shopping for everyday items. Consumers noted that this is due to having everything they need and a wide selection at an affordable price. 

The desire for one-stop shopping is still a Gen Z priority online as is affordability. The report cited that:

  • Sixty-two percent of these consumers identified Amazon as their favorite destination for online shopping, with 31 percent noting that Amazon has everything they need; and
  • Thirteen percent of respondents preferred Walmart for online shopping, with 37 percent noting affordability as a driving factor.

Whether in-store or online, Gen Z is also enticed by good deals. Ninety-one percent of respondents identify promotions and sales as impactful, while customer reviews or testimonials, personalized offers, and informative content specific to products all ranked at 88 percent effective.

When it comes to leveraging technology, Gen Z shoppers primarily started their searches with Amazon (52 percent) while 43 percent used Google. The cohort also uses retailer websites (28 percent) and TikTok (16 percent) in their searches.

Additionally, social media supports about 50 percent of respondents' browsing habits with Instagram and TikTok being the most popular at more than 60 percent.

Despite their tech-savvy scrolling, P2PI found there is minimal interest from Gen Z respondents around non-fungible tokens (NFT). Only 8 percent have purchased an NFT before and 31 percent say they are not at all interested in purchasing NFTs. More than one-third of the female respondents didn't know what an NFT was.

The 2022 Path to Purchase Institute Gen Z Shopping Habits research study surveyed 16- to 24-year-olds who self-reported shopping online or in-store at least once a month for one or more categories of interest.

Chicago-based Path to Purchase Institute is a global member community serving the needs of brand manufacturers, retailers, agencies, and the entire ecosystem of solution providers in the commerce marketing industry. P2PI and its sister publication, Convenience Store News, are properties of EnsembleIQ.

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