Yukti Agarwal

Yukti Agarwal
Senior Associate Marketing Manager,
Infosys Equinox

Move over Millennials, Gen Z is the new consumer cohort capturing the attention of brands, retailers, and digital commerce leaders. Making up 20% of US and 30% of global shoppers, “Zoomers” account for 40% of consumer spending (though a good portion of this comes from family allowance, rather than employment income).

Born between 1996 and 2011, Gen Z is digitally native, through and through. More than half use their smartphones 5 or more hours per day (26% more than 10 hours per day), and 54% spend more than 4 hours on social media.

32% of Gen Z shops online at least once per day, and Zoomers are twice as likely to make a mobile online purchase than Millennials, and 71% say they do most of their online shopping through their phones. What else makes Gen Z unique, and how can digital commerce leaders satisfy their need for speed, sustainability, and social conscience?

Humanize digital commerce

Zoomers don’t just love to surf social media – they use it to shop. 97% of Z’ers use social media as their top source for product discovery and shopping inspiration, with 43% preferring TikTok over Google for search (the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag alone has over 63 billion views). YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are all influential platforms for Z-commerce, and 40% actively follow their favorite brand accounts to catch product drops and promotions.

Leverage UGC (user generated content)

Social influencers have made shopping “hauls,” get-ready-with-me, outfit of the day, product review, unboxing, and favorites videos mainstream. Brands and retailers do well to bring the best of social into their own websites, embedding public videos into product pages, thematic landing pages, emails, and re-sharing on their own social pages. Merchants are also starting to incorporate visual search to enable product matching from social images

Encourage customer influence

Gen Z is high on individualism and authenticity. Inviting customers to create influencer-style content as part of a contest, loyalty program or similar campaign is a great way to bring more authenticity and engaging content to your site. 82% of Gen Z’ers trust brands more when they use real customers in advertising. Ambassador programs (customers-turned-affiliates), community leaderboards and hosting live shopping streams are additional ways to get Gen Z customers engaging socially with your brand.

Embrace AI-driven experiences

AI capabilities enhance digital commerce by enabling fast, hyper-personalized shopping and customer service. 60% of Zoomers say they’re interested in AI-enabled shopping, the highest of all generations. This includes interactive product finders, chatbots, visual search, virtual try-on, and AR (augmented reality), personalized content and offers, outfit builders and generative content (e.g., product images styled on virtual models, on demand). Increasingly, it involves hardware or apps. For example, many beauty brands and direct sales companies have built skin analyzer and color matching technologies, and apparel retailers leverage body scan apps for fit-finding.

Showcase social values

Gen Z’ers are socially conscious and hold brands and retailers to high standards. They’re quick to “cancel” brands that don’t align with inclusivity, and social justice and are willing to spend more for sustainable products that are responsibly made.

Close to 65% pay attention to where goods are made, what materials are used and how this impacts the Earth, and 73% are willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products. More and more retailers are attributing products as Sustainable to use in product list filters and “Shop by” collections. Be sure to highlight sustainable specs in product descriptions, image galleries and other microcopy. Offering carbon neutral shipping and sustainable packing materials are other ways to communicate your eco-friendly status.

Consider recommerce

“Recommerce” or the sale of secondhand goods are also trending among retailers. Patagonia, Lululemon, IKEA and Selfridges are just a few notable merchants offering trade-ins and peer-to-peer selling, directly within their ecommerce sites. Gen Z are price conscious, and they want quality products at lower price. They are most likely to shop second hand to save money and do their part to reduce waste, with 43% having purchased a resale item within the past year. Selling used goods alongside new carries caveats, making it an ideal use case for headless microservices to ensure the right selling and returns logic can be configured for your system.

Diversity and inclusion

Zoomers also expect to see representation from brands. This means more diversity in banner imagery, product photos and social content. Generative AI presents an opportunity for brands and retailers to replicate photos on a variety of body types and skin tones, and allow buyers to virtual try-on apparel on their own realistic avatar.

What’s more, 48% say they value brands that don’t classify items as male or female. Consider how this impacts your product attribution, taxonomy strategies, site search tuning and merchandising campaigns.

Offer flexible payments

Of all the generations, Gen Z are most open to alternate payment methods. Almost 75% of BNPL users in the US are Gen Z or millennials, and by 2025, 47% of Gen Z will hold an account with at least one pay-later provider such as PayPal Pay in 4, Klarna, Affirm and AfterPay.

Don’t be afraid to offer more than one BNPL option. While technically, any shopper can sign up for a new BNPL to check out with you, offering what they already have ensures a frictionless payment step.

Mobile wallets

For Zoomers are too young to hold their own credit cards, offering Google and Apple Pay can help them check out themselves, as these apps allow parents to fund these balances

Reward loyalty

In today’s age of digital privacy, Gen Z is still willing to share data with brands – so long as it’s used responsibly – and are looking for perks that go beyond points and price discounts. Consider both transactional and non-transactional rewards, like early access to product drops and sales, exclusive in-person events, digital goods like NFTs and the option to donate points to charity.

A loyalty microservice enables you to stitch your loyalty programs with a range of touchpoints outside of the store. For example, Under Armour awards points for completing fitness challenges through their MapMyRun app that pairs with mobile phones and fitness trackers. CPG brands like Gatorade and Purina have created smart products (bottles and food bowls, respectively) that track consumption and connect to loyalty profiles.

Microservices can even enable co-branded loyalty programs with strategic partners. Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods have teamed up to share perks across their memberships, and Nike offers members free guided runs through the Headspace healthcare app and earn engagement points for completing runs.

Bring digital in-store features to the mobile web

Despite being digitally native, Gen Z’ers are more likely to shop in-store than Millennials, especially for electronics and clothing. Giving them digital tools to use in-store, like augmented reality, camera-enabled features (snap a photo to search), QR code links and mobile self-checkout helps amplify their in-store experiences, giving them the best of both worlds.

Whether you offer these features through a native app or a progressive web application (PWA) that enables you to add app-like features into your mobile website, headless microservices let you make new, fast and frictionless digital experiences that appeal to Zoomers, and keep them in lock step with the wants and needs of this emerging generation.

How next-gen technology serves Gen Z

This generation wants shopping experiences that are frictionless, personal, and human. And to build experiences that keep up with evolving preferences, opportunities and trends, brands require future-ready and composable commerce technology.

Write to us at contactus@infosysequinox.com to know more.

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