39% of Gen Z Shoppers Are Perpetually in Shopping/Browsing Mode, According to New L.E.K. Consulting Survey

Boston, MA (Jan. 18, 2024) – About two-thirds (64%) of Gen Zers prefer shopping in-store to online. What’s more, 39% say they are constantly in a shopping and browsing mode – and 92% do research before they make a purchase. That’s according to a new study by global strategy consultancy L.E.K. Consulting that sheds light on the shopping preferences of and behaviors of Gen Z, born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s. 

“As buying power shifts to younger generations, brands and retailers must continually evolve their understanding of consumer needs and shopping behaviors. There have been a lot of assumptions made about Gen Z, but how they actually shop might surprise many,” said Jen Wu, Managing Director at L.E.K. and report co-author.

Among the main findings from Generational Shopping Behavior: How Gen Z Shops:

Gen Z still visits brick-and-mortar stores. Despite being raised in a digital world, Gen Z places a high value on in-store shopping – more than millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. But, while other generations cite shipping costs or a need to touch products as the rationale for shopping in-store, Gen Z’s preferences largely come down to what’s most efficient for a given purchase. Used to having information and services at their fingertips, they’re more likely to pursue whatever path to purchase is most seamless. At the same time, Gen Z still values the experience of shopping in person and is most amenable to unique experiential offerings.

Gen Z is constantly discovering and shopping. As the first digitally native generation, Gen Z is deeply entwined with digital technology. This connectivity means they’re perpetually in shopping/browsing mode – as noted, nearly 40% of Gen Z respondents said they are constantly shopping, compared to 35% of millennials and 15% of Gen Xers and baby boomers. But this “always on” approach also means that they’re persistently being bombarded with the next new product or brand. 

Gen Z seeks to be informed. It’s well known that Gen Z wants to shop, wear and eat brands that reflect their individual values. They also want to purchase products that meet their expectations of quality, value and authenticity. Because of this, Gen Z shoppers want to be informed consumers – and are more likely to do research before making a purchase than any other generation.

“Gen Z grew up with more ways to shop, and more things to shop for, than every generation before it. This means that brands, retailers and investors need a unique approach to successfully cut through the noise, establish trust and turn this generation of consumers into customers,” said Chuck Reynolds, Managing Director at L.E.K. and report co-author.

So, how to court Gen Z? Here are L.E.K.’s tips for brands, retailers and investors:

  • Personalize to grab attention: Use the data and knowledge you have about your customers to engage them at the right moment while shopping. You have a matter of seconds to communicate to consumers, and it requires crisp articulation and compelling messaging. Gen Z is much more likely to open an email, watch an ad or click a link that feels targeted and relevant to them.

  • Develop an authentic brand that you can stand behind: Appealing to values-driven Gen Zers isn’t about fluffy marketing messaging; it’s about developing an authentic brand personality that you can believe in. The key attributes of your offering, including price, should be communicated strategically across multiple touchpoints. You don’t need to have the same price in every channel, but you must be intentional about pricing so that you could justify it to a well-informed Gen Zer.

  • Deliver a seamless offering across online and physical stores: The experiences don’t have to be the same, but they need to be coherently integrated. Be consistent and available across the touchpoints you engage in with your customers – be where they are and make it easy for them to engage with you. Gen Z makes no distinction between the digital and physical realms, so it’s important to provide a single unified experience, from content to assortment to check-out to post-purchase.

“Gen Zers don’t want shopping to be just transactional. They want it to be an enjoyable activity. From desiring seamless interaction between the off- and online world of shopping and discovery to choosing products based not just on their style but also their values, Gen Z has raised the bar. To capture this generation, now and in the future, brands, retailers and their investors need to meet their needs every step of the way,” said Laura Brookhiser, Managing Director at L.E.K. and report co-author.

About L.E.K. Consulting
We’re L.E.K. Consulting, a global strategy consultancy working with business leaders to seize competitive advantage and amplify growth. Our insights are catalysts that reshape the trajectory of our clients’ businesses, uncovering opportunities and empowering them to master their moments of truth. Since 1983, our worldwide practice — spanning the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe — has guided leaders across all industries, from global corporations to emerging entrepreneurial businesses and private equity investors. Looking for more? Visit www.lek.com.