Gen Z: A New Influential Generation of Shoppers

Gen Z Shopper
11.10.2021 research

Generation Z is the first digitally native generation. People in this generation were born with new technologies such as laptops and touch-screen phones and have little or no memory of the time before that. But don’t underestimate this young generation: G-Z’ers are already seen as core influencers in today’s shopping habits, as they not only are customers themselves but also influence their parents’ shopping behavior. To retain and attract this new generation, retailers must know what drives them.

Get ready to get up close and personal with Gen Z.


What you need to know about Gen-Z customers

Generation Z is the new generation after Millennials, meaning that Gen-Z’ers were born after 1996. Even though there is a small gap between these two generations, there are significant differences between the shopping habits and interests of Generation Y and Gen Z. 

Interestingly enough, despite Gen-Z being known as the generation of digital natives, according to The 2020 Grocery Shopping Habits Of Gen Z and Millenials FMI report, Gen Z households buy 15% of their monthly groceries online while Millennial households buy 26% of their groceries online. This means that Millenials shop more for groceries online than Gen-Z’ers do.

Read: How Nostalgia Marketing Can Boost Your Loyalty Campaign


Gen Z: Progressive even in their shopping habits

One difference from their Gen-X parents is that Gen-Z does not only look at the product but also takes the company and brands which sell the product into consideration. Thus, these shoppers are not only driven by their grocery and shopping needs but are also interested in the company values and ethics, such as social and environmental ideals. To put it in perspective, a member of Gen-Z is more likely to pay a little extra for a chocolate bar marked as “Free Trade” than purchase a cheaper chocolate bar that does not have the same certification.

Food shopping is taken very seriously by this progressive generation: 23% of Gen-Z’ers reported food to be their Number 1 wallet priority (Source: The Food Institute). Additionally, the price and quality of a product are the most influential factors that 79.7% and 65.5% of Gen-Z consumers said they took into account while purchasing. Other numbers mentioned by the study also pointed to positive reviews and rewards programs as being key influencers on shoppers’ final decisions.


Keep up with these fast-paced digital natives

What you can’t forget is that Gen Z has proven to be a generation that is quite mindful of the impact of their choices, whether it’s what shirt they are going to wear to stand out, or which coffee company they should buy from. They want to be listened to and to make their mark on the world for the better.

Similarly to Millennials, more than 50% of Gen Z believes that climate change is an issue due to human activity. This makes members of Gen-Z more concerned about the impact of the production process of the products they buy has on the environment. In all, Gen-Z’ers are less likely to purchase a product from a non-sustainable company.

In addition to caring about the environment, Gen-Z’ers also care about the production process of the food they buy. One Gen Z “no-no” is the unethical treatment of people and animals. This means that working conditions of employees and the treatment of livestock before hitting the shelves in stores are important topics in their decision process. Their grocery list includes healthy and sustainable options, as a way to reduce their negative environmental impact. As shared by The Food Institute, 49% of teens in this generation either consume or are willing to try plant-based meat and other veggie options. 

The takeaway lesson about Gen Z: Although young and not at their peak, Gen-Z’ers have a major influence not just on their peers, but also on older generations. Despite the fast pace at which it is moving and the lure of instant gratification, Gen Z is proving to be more mindful of its purchasing power and habits. When turning this generation into a buying persona, there is no doubt that there is a huge market for the availability of greener and more socially mindful products and companies. Can your brand keep up?


Read more about UNGA's services for grocery retailers.

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