Here’s How eCommerce Sites Can Start Decoding Gen Z

Tired of reading clickbait about Millennials’ love of avocado toast? Here’s some good news: GenZ is the next new generation, and over the next few years, people are going to be working hard to figure out this vibrant and dynamic group—the first truly digital native generation.

The boundaries of the US’s youngest generation are still somewhat fuzzy, but the Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as those born in 1997 or later.1

What sets Gen Z apart from its predecessors? For starters, it’s the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever seen—a group with even greater diversity than Millennials, according to Pew.

Gen Z Has Truly Digital-First Media Habits

It also consumes media in a fundamentally different way than any of its forebears. The oldest Gen Zers were only 10 years old when Apple released the first iPhone; smartphones are likely their default method for heading online.

The Center for Generational Kinetics reports that 95% of Gen Zers had a smartphone in 2018. Their survey also revealed that 61% of Gen Zers spent at least five hours on their smartphone per day, and that more than one-quarter spent a daily average of 10 hours or more with the devices.2

With so much of their time spent on smartphones, legacy media channels like TV hold significantly less sway over them than older generations. That means marketers can have a tough time reaching them at scale through more traditional advertising methods.

Teens and the Power of Recommendations and Reviews

Those media habits could make Gen Z a tough nut for online merchants to crack. But some new research from Social Media Link found that there are still some things that do exert a lot of influence over their purchase decisions: recommendations and reviews.3

According to the company’s survey, nearly all Gen Zers (96%) said they often read recommendations or reviews for products they were thinking about buying.

 

These young shoppers also relied heavily on their personal networks for guidance on purchase decisions. 80% of teens looked to friends and family for recommendations about new products and brands, making it their No. 1 source for those types of endorsements.

 

But online reviews were almost as popular with Gen Zers, with nearly eight in 10 accessing them for insights on potential purchases and brands. In fact, reviews were a bigger influence on their purchase decisions than social media, influencers, and even ads.

Social Media Link also found that these young shoppers aren’t just likely to read product reviews. They’re also highly predisposed to writing them as well. More than 90% of Gen Zers wrote product reviews at least some of the time, and more than a quarter wrote one for every product or service they used.

 

To sum up the research:

  • 96% of Gen Zers often read ratings and reviews about things they’re thinking about buying.
  • Members of the generation tend to look first to friends and family for product recommendations, but online reviews are a close second.
  • Gen Zers are not just reading reviews; more than 9 in 10 also write them for at least some purchases
  • Gen Z spends substantially more time on smartphones than with older media platforms like TV

To Reach Gen Z, Think Mobile-First

Gen Z shoppers, like pretty much all customers, want to see a lot of reviews. TurnTo can help with our Ratings & Reviews product, which generates more Customer-Generated Content than any other.

Just like our entire product suite, Ratings & Reviews is mobile-first and uses responsive design principles to make reviews submitted on a smartphone frictionless. To be clear, we’re not just making things look pretty on mobile devices. We’re changing the way content is collected based on smartphone users’ behavior.

It’s an approach that makes things as easy as possible for Gen Zers on smartphones—who, remember, are already primed to write reviews—to submit more content about their purchases to eCommerce sites.

TurnTo’s Visual Reviews takes this mobile-first approach a step further. Its visual-first collection flow lets shoppers send photos and videos to eCommerce sites with just a few taps. As a result, eCommerce sites get to bank even more content on their product pages, and customers don’t even have to type anything out.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s innovative products can help you connect with Gen Z?

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Sources:

1 Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins; Pew Research Center, January 2019

2 How Obsessed is Gen Z with Mobile Technology?; The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2018

3 Infographic: 27% of Gen Zers Say They Always Write a Product Review After Making a Purchase; Adweek, April 2018

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