Top Spending Priorities for Gen Z

With $150 billion in buying power, retailers need to be in-the-know about Gen Z’s spending habits––and how to operate to capture this influential audience.
gen z

Gen Z is emerging as a demographic with spending power, and their spending habits set them apart from other generations. The group is expected to increase its spending power over the next three years, and understanding how they plan to spend, where they shop and how they shop is critical for retailers. 

Additionally, Gen Z insights are important for marketers targeting the generation during the holiday season, according to Fluent, which published a survey highlighting Gen Z’s shopping habits and preferences. The survey, conducted with AdParlor, queried more than 14,000 Americans, uncovering what Gen Z cares about, when and where they plan to shop, and which channels they go to for gift inspiration. 

Payment Priorities


Unlike some other groups of shoppers, Gen Z cares more about flexible payment options and deals more than timely delivery and product availability. In fact, Gen Zers are two times more likely to care about deals and discounts than these other factors. The group is also more likely to share their email address with a brand in exchange for dollar and percentage-off discounts compared to reward points and free gifts. That means brands need to pay attention to what type of promotions they target to Gen Z.

The demographic is 33% more likely to purchase holiday gifts from a website if it offers buy now, pay later options, such as Klarna or Afterpay.

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z is more engaged with brands from social media, with 32% making purchases directly within their favorite social media platforms. While TikTok has emerged as the new social media darling among Gen Z, 38% plan to use YouTube for longer-form content. 

“Gen Z’s online shopping habits are actually very different from those of other generations. The primary driving force behind these differences is Gen Z’s outsize use of social media and high expectations for a seamless shopping experience across channels and devices,” Sean Cullen, executive vice president of product at Fluent, told Retail Leader. “For example, 31% of Gen Zers have purchased a gift based on a social media influencer’s recommendation, and they’re 41% more likely to do so than any other generations. Additionally, Gen Zers are 42% more likely to purchase gifts directly from a social media platform than other generations. “

Retail Destinations and Holiday Shopping Methods


When it comes to where Gen Z shops for the holidays, Amazon is the preferred online retailer. However, Walmart has been making up ground as an online retailer, with 29% of Gen Zers preferring Walmart compared to 50% who said Amazon. That’s compared to 55% who preferred Amazon in 2020 and 23% who said they preferred Walmart. 

Walmart’s investment in its e-commerce business, such as adding its Walmart+ membership program with shipping perks, has helped the retail giant gain online customers. Walmart+ is widely regarded as the retailer’s answer to Amazon’s Prime program. The number of those purchasing gifts at increased 26% in the last year, Fluent found.

“This year, Walmart has been heavily promoting its Walmart+ membership by offering subscribers unlimited free shipping and exclusive early access to Black Friday deals and holiday sales events,” Cullen told Retail Leader. “And while Walmart officially discontinued its layaway program this year, its partnership with fintech company Affirm is likely resonating with the 33% of Gen Z who are more likely to purchase holiday gifts from a website that offers buy now, pay later options at checkout.”

As for how Gen Z shops for holiday gifts, social media and online channels are critical. Nearly one-third (32%) said they are likely to purchase gifts directly from a social media platform. Gen Zers are 42% more likely to purchase from social media than other generations. TikTok, Instagram and YouTube were the most popular social media platforms for Gen Z. Despite more social media engagement, Gen Zers are actually less likely to make purchases from their mobile phones compared to Millennials. Compared to other generations, they are 69% more likely to make purchases from desktops.

“When it comes to where they like to shop, nearly 50% will be purchasing most of their holiday gifts via mobile, although overall, they’re less likely than Millennials and Gen X to purchase gifts on their phones,” Cullen added.