October 17 | 2023

Decoding Gen Z’s online shopping behavior

Gen Z consumers are influenced by social media when making purchasing decisions. Still, they don’t blindly follow trends or influencer recommendations. They read comments, reviews, and check sources before buying. 

How can brands then reach and talk to them in the most effective way? 

We asked The Robins, SuperHeroes’ Gen Z panel of leaders and tastemakers based between Europe and the United States. The goal was simple: to understand how Gen Z shops online and what drives their purchasing decisions. 

This is what we found out: 

  1. What Motivates Gen Z to Buy

For Gen Z, shopping is a balancing act. They crave quality in their purchases but often face financial constraints that limit their ability to make conscious choices. This generation struggles to fulfill their desires, needs, and sustainability concerns, striking a delicate balance in their shopping decisions.

Zoe, a 23-year-old from the Netherlands, shared with us “I try to ensure that the fast fashion I buy is fast in terms of production but not in terms of how long I can make it last.”

Social media plays a pivotal role in Gen Z’s brand discovery and purchasing decisions, making it a crucial platform for brands to connect with this audience.


  1. The Crucial Role of Social Media

Gen Z’s social shopping experience is inherently social. It’s not just about making purchases on social platforms; it’s about being influenced by others, both known and unknown, throughout the shopping journey.

Patrick, a 20-year-old from the United States, explains, “When I see someone wearing the same shirt, I feel better about being part of a community.”

Trends hold sway over Gen Z. The more they see a product used by like-minded individuals on social media, the more likely it becomes a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.

Isabel, a 26-year-old from the U.S., notes, “Social media makes me want to buy more whenever I see someone who I consider trendy or cool.”

However, Gen Z rarely makes impulse purchases. They take additional steps, such as reading comments, reviews, or checking sources, before buying on social media.

Madalena, a 24-year-old from Portugal, emphasizes, “Social media comments are more trustworthy [than website reviews] because there’s no filter; people can be real.”


  1. Gen Z’s Social Shopping Journey

Gen Z’s shopping journey is influenced by various factors, including the moment and channel, product category, brand/person endorsing the product, and prior encounters with the product.

They rely on platforms like TikTok for product discovery, Instagram for getting an overall brand impression, and YouTube for in-depth product reviews. Pinterest serves as a digital mood board for Gen Z, allowing them to save and research items they find appealing.

Despite their active presence on social media, Gen Z often chooses to make purchases away from in-app platforms due to concerns about pricing, security, and delivery.

Isabel points out, “I don’t really ever buy through social media because TikTok shops are priced up compared to other platforms.”



What Brands Can Do?

We shared and discussed key takeaways and best practices during our last event at our Amsterdam hideout “How to hack creative commerce”. If you missed it or couldn’t join us, make sure to sign up to our mailing list, and follow us on Linkedin and on Instagram alike. 

In short, to connect with Gen Z effectively, brands should consider the following strategies:

#1 Keep the Journey in Mind

Each social media platform serves a unique purpose and audience. Brands must tailor their content and approach accordingly rather than simply repurposing content.

#2 Embrace Creativity

Gen Z appreciates brands that think outside the box and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. Authenticity and creativity are key to winning their favor.

#3 Use Those Comments

Gen Z values connections, guidance, and support on social media. Brands should actively engage with their audience through the comment section.

#4 Aim at Quality Creators

Brands should focus on creators who bring quality to their followers’ lives rather than merely looking at follower counts. Trustworthiness and authenticity matter more than sheer numbers.

Understanding Gen Z’s shopping behavior is essential for brands looking to connect with this influential generation. By adapting to their unique preferences and habits, brands can create meaningful and lasting relationships with Gen Z consumers.


About The Robins

Powered and curated by SuperHeroes, the Robins are a diverse team of Gen Z artists, TikTokers, entrepreneurs, activists, philosophers, designers, and other opinionated young adults. Their mission? Deliver fresh insight about their generation and culture.  

Want to find out what The Robins can do for you ? 

Send a bat signal to Beatrice Miu: hello@hellorobins.com 

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