Targeting GenZ? 3 tactics to sell more on social this holiday season

Charles Nicholls
December 6, 2022

New research shows that Generation Z shops differently from other demographics, and that 80% plan to use social media to find holiday gifts. In this article, we look at the implications of this new data and recommend 3 essential GenZ tactics this holiday season. 

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New research by my company, SimplicityDX - What Gen Z Thinks About Holiday Season Shopping 2022, shows that Generation Z is literally a generation apart in the way they shop. This group, made up of 16 to 24-year-old shoppers, is tech savvy, untrusting, and surprisingly intolerant of poor customer experience. But above all the biggest difference is how social is now playing a critical part in their shopping activities. 

What got us started looking at GenZ was a quote from a Google Executive that revealed that ‘approximately 40% of GenZ search for a place to eat first on TikTok or Instagram’ (link to source). Boom. 

Every now and again you see a new statistic that makes you stop in your tracks and wonder whether the world just shifted a bit on its axis a bit. This was one such time, and as a result we kicked off a survey of 500 US GenZ shoppers to see whether Google had found an outlier, or an important new trend. 

It was the trend. 

We found a completely different picture of how GenZ search for products, and how they shop. It is all about social:

• 93% of this group use social for shopping.

• 51% think social is a great place to learn about new products,

• while 22% percent think it’s a great place to buy new products.

This holiday season 80% plan to use social to find gifts this year, with 41% planning to use it for most or all of their holiday shopping, mirroring the Google research. 

Unsurprisingly, the most important trigger for a potential holiday purchase for Gen Z is the availability of promotions. However, GenZ place a lot more emphasis on customer experience than older consumers. 26% of GenZ shoppers consider customer experience to be the most important factor, compared with only 14% for other age groups. This can potentially be explained by our research which shows that returning products on social is a major friction point, and that only 17% of shoppers that bought and returned a product through a social media platform would be willing to shop on social again in the future.

As a consequence, almost three quarters of GenZ prefer to check out on the brand site, and not buy on the social platform itself. This reinforces the pattern of using social for product discovery, potentially with influencers, but buying directly on the brand site. 

The prevalence of scams, fake news, sketchy influencer endorsements has conditioned GenZ to be wary and to seek out authenticity. The strong preference to buy on the brand site is driven by several factors: trusting the seller, product availability and assortment, returns processes and making sure they get the best deal. GenZ are savvy buyers that know that the brand site is the best place to be certain to get all of these.

3 tactics this holiday season for GenZ audiences

Given this, what should brands seeking to sell to GenZ over the holiday period do differently for this group? 

1. Focus on Instagram and TikTok

Instagram and TikTok are the most important social destinations for GenZ when it comes to shopping. These two platforms make up sixty percent of all their shopping activity, with thirty three percent and twenty-seven percent respectively of GenZ having searched for and found a product they purchased recently using these platforms. Above all, communications need to be authentic, especially when using influencers for this group. 

2. Direct traffic to your brand site

There is a clear-cut preference by this group (and older demographics as well) for purchasing on brand sites, and not checking out through social. If you already have a shoppable store on social platforms, best practice is to have customers click through you your ecommerce store to buy. Check also that all of your social posts tag products in your catalog to make it easy for customers to find the featured products – it’s easy to fix but still remarkably common. 

3. Mirror promotions & inventory on social channels 

One of the most common complaints about products on social is that promotional prices are not correctly reflected in the social store. This means that during seasonal promotions products are frequently cheaper to buy on the brand site than on social. Given that GenZ spend more time on social than any other demographic, and promotional pricing is the most important trigger for a purchase for this group, it should be obvious that holiday promotions need to be reflected in your social product catalog. 

Inventory is however more complex, but also important. Social inventory feeds should be set to the highest frequency possible to synchronize product availability across channels. Most brands struggle to do this though, so one alternative approach is to avoid promoting fast-moving, low stock items on social, which will only frustrate customers when they are unable to buy them. 

It’s always interesting to see how younger generations’ behaviors differ because it’s a look into the future. While GenerationZ don’t have much purchasing power yet, they will become the next generation of consumers. But in the short term, if you’re selling to GenZ this holiday season, there’s one word that matters most: social.

Read more about our insights on GenZ Holiday Season shopping:

Press Release - 80% of Gen Z Shoppers to Use Social This Holiday

Holiday Season Social Commerce: How to avoid the customer experience black hole

Top 6 Social Commerce Trends for the 2022 Holiday Season

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