Aimee Millwood
Director of Content at Yotpo
January 5th, 2015

5 Tips for Getting Generation Z Shoppers

Table Of Contents

Generation Z raises an interesting conundrum for eCommerce.

Most of them are still teenagers, which means they often don’t have money or means to shop, but they still do – a lot. Most gen z teenagers don’t have credit cards or a job; in fact, teen unemployment has been teetering around 20 percent – more than double the national average of 6.7 percent. Despite these setbacks, more teenagers are shopping online than ever before, and the numbers are continuing to rise.

Whether these gen z teens represent a small portion of your target audience or make up the bulk of your consumer base, e-tailers in all sectors should listen up – teens are spending more on food, electronics, and other products, not just clothes.

Understanding the consumer purchase decision process and knowing how to attract and keep this generation of shoppers is vital to both short-term and long-term sales, as the teenagers of today will soon be the adults of tomorrow. So it’s wise to respect their spending power, and learn how to cater to their needs.

Gen Z Shoppers Care About Friends More Than Brands

Gen Z is brand conscious but not necessarily loyal – they value their peers’ opinions over everything else when making a buying decision, and social media holds influence over about half of them.

Girls especially value peer approval when making purchasing decisions. This is great for e-tailers, because starting hype with a group of influential teens means enormous word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

Learning how to properly leverage social proof and social media in a way that effectively influences teen customers has great rewards, as catching on with a few influential teens means a horde of masses are likely to follow.

Gen Z is #Complicated

There’s no doubt that properly capturing teen shoppers can make or break online business (the death of Delia’s was enough to make that clear), but just how to do that isn’t always apparent.

Teen’s shopping habits are as mysterious as their means –  they take time to make purchasing decisions but they’re impatient and want instant gratification from stores. They’re young but want to be recognized as mature consumers and are instantly turned off by marketing that makes them feel like children.

They want the latest trends delivered both quickly and cheaply. In other words, teens sort of want it all, which can make it difficult for online businesses to know how to best cater to them.

Aeropostale, a brick-and-mortar teen retail giant, struggled at first to adapt to teens’ changing needs, but recently launched a campaign that has many important lessons for engaging teens in the internet age.

Generation Z Doesn’t Know What They Want, But They Want it Fast

To better understand how to design websites for these fickle consumers, a Nielsen study watched teen behavior on the web.

The results surprised the researchers: while teens were attracted to complex sites, they often could not navigate complicated designs. So to harness teen purchasing-power sites need to be ultra-intuitive while not appearing simple.

Additionally, their short attention spans and high clicking rates made fast loading time vital to keeping them on a site.

The study’s results reveal that what’s important when designing a website for adult shoppers is especially important for teens: extra quick checkout, making shopping navigation simple yet informative, and packing pages with visuals.

Don’t require registration (or make it possible to sign in with social media credentials) to get teens to checkout quicker. Teens are also hesitant to give out their personal data online, which makes it extra-important not to ask for more than you need.

Make payment speedy and offer hassle-free ways for them to pay, either by sending a payment request to parents or syncing with payment systems like PayPal. If you must ask for a credit card, make it easy for them to auto-fill in forms with pre-saved info.

Look into conversational commerce as an efficient way to engage with younger consumers, communicating with them instantly and creating a direct link between social media and your store.

Generation Z Shoppers Don’t Mind Ads

Surprisingly, teens don’t mind advertisements nearly as much as adults and they actually pay more attention to them than older generations.

The key is to design ads that appeal to them and capture their short attention spans. Integrate strong user content marketing that asks for their opinions because teens like to be recognized as authoritative shoppers with an opinion.

Using gamification in your techniques is a great way to create interactive experiences and sustain their attention.

Generation Z Shoppers Love Themself(ies)

User content marketing is a match made in heaven for teenagers. Their narcissistic natures, combined with their love to show off on social media, makes them much more likely not just to submit, but to share.

Combine customer content marketing techniques with rewards that or offer them a chance at fame, like being the new face of advertisements if their selfie is chosen.

But remember:

Don’t treat them like children when you market to them, but do when you get to the legalities.

If they’re under 18, there is another spectrum of rules you must adhere to when collecting user content. Make sure you have the right permissions before you launch a user content marketing campaign aimed at teens.


Gen Z teens are a valuable customer base, but many eCommerce stores are struggling to understand how to master engagement with them. Their fickle needs can be met, and the rewards are valuable because they are one of the most likely consumer groups to be easily swayed by the crowd. If you can get a few on board, it will likely be followed by a wave of fans.

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