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The Modern Buyer: The Growing Influence of Gen Z

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Verified Blogger
Verified Blogger
Last Edited 11:19:36 AM by Verified Blogger

Welcome to the final installment in our “The Modern Buyer” blog series. This edition explores the influence and shopping habits of the fast-rising, post-millennial generation dubbed Gen Z.


Those tweens and teens a few years away from entering the workforce? They’re not millennials.


While some publications have pointed out that there’s no universally agreed-upon name for the generation born between 2000 and the mid-2010s, one that’s widely used is Gen Z (they’re also called centennials and the iGen).


Whatever you call them, they’re already personally spending $44 billion a year.


And their effect on wider spending is even greater. 93% of today’s parents say their children influence household purchases, to the tune of $166 billion a year.


Directly and indirectly, a significant portion of today’s purchases are driven by this youngest generation—and their beliefs and preferences.


The way Gen Z views work, money, and shopping is distinct from any generation that has come before.


Early signs point their outsized influence on consumer culture. What are those signs, and what do they mean for sellers like you?


They wield growing buying power.

5897_022018_RetailStandardBlog_PullQuotes_01.pngWhat’s most remarkable about the stat above is that the percentage of millennials earning their own spending money is about the same, though they’re a generation older!


Though the hard dollar amounts aren’t the same, the numbers show Gen Z are driven earners and active consumers.


In fact, they’re already on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020.

What eBay sellers can do: Don’t neglect adapting for these young people just because they’re young people. They already know the value of work, and once they enter the workforce in true numbers, their spending power is going to truly eclipse the millennials who came before. (Not to mention their present influence on Mom and Dad’s spending.)


Ad agency Barkley published a 2017 study reporting that more than half of teens said personal success was the most important thing in life. How can what you sell help this driven generation achieve their goals? Or how can you position your products as rewards for their hard work?


Gen Z are mobile-first, digital natives.


For these young people, there’s never been a time when computers and the internet were not a part of their everyday lives.


An IBM study found that 74% of Gen Z spends their free time online—a quarter of them spending a whopping five or more hours a day.


More importantly, 60% of them will not use an app or website that takes too long to load. (One study marked Gen Z’s average attention span at a mere 8 seconds.)


What eBay sellers can do: Mobile-friendly listings are super important to capture and keep Gen Z shoppers, who spend so much of their life on mobile devices. Make sure your pictures look great and your listings are easy to read when viewed on phone screens.


Also, be sure your listings use the right structured data so shoppers can find what they’re looking for, fast.


They crave authenticity, everywhere.

Stocksy_txp5ae4b1e2mSq100_Medium_1206122.jpgA report from the ad agency Barkley reported that 77% of Gen Z likes ads that show real people in real situations, and 65% dislike ads that make life look perfect. Forbes notes that 63% of them prefer to see real people rather than celebrities in advertisements.


And much like millennials (and even Gen Xers and baby boomers), Gen Z loves online product reviews, The prime difference for this youngest generation is that they’ve never lived in a time without them. When buying products online in the last 30 days, a leading 72% of Gen Z said they’ve used online reviews.


What eBay sellers can do: Do your product shots feature the item against a sterile white backdrop or their real-life, everyday context? Do you set your fashion items on a form or a model?


Your listing’s main photo should always show the item against a clean, white background, but consider adding a “lifestyle” shot of the product in use. Show how your handbag looks over someone’s shoulder, or show someone pulling a laptop from your sleeve case. How does the piece of art your listing actually look mounted on a wall, hanging above a couch for scale?


They’re the most diverse and fluid generation to date.


Both Gen Z and Millennials are more multicultural than the generations before them.


And the most recent US Census reported that Gen Z is itself the most diverse generation ever.


Forbes reports that only 44% of Gen Z always buy clothes designed for their own gender, compared with 54% of millennials, though Gen Z guys prefer to spend more on products than Gen Z girls, and Gen Z girls spend more on experiences than their male counterparts. Barkley reports that 61% of Gen Z like ads that show diverse types of families.


What eBay sellers can do: Offer a range of products that support a diverse range of experiences, from the brands that are connecting with them. Teens now prefer activewear brands like Lululemon and Nike over the old standby denim. Every month, beauty-related videos receive 700 million views on YouTube, Gen Z’s favorite social media platform for shopping recommendations— are you offering what’s being recommended? Meanwhile, outdoor brands like Patagonia and North Face have captured Gen Z’s attention over an authentic love of the outdoors and passion for the environment.


Online sellers have a lot to look forward to with the rise of Gen Z. They’re tech-savvy, pragmatic, and a decade ahead of millennials when it comes to earning their own pocket money.


Though they have not fully entered the consumer market, their online shopping behavior is a continuation of millennials’ and Gen Xers’ before them. We know they’ll be searching for the brands that speak to them, and we know they’ve got the native skills to find what they want, faster.


They’re the buyers of the future and the influencers of today. Are ready to sell to them? Are you already?


In recent weeks, we’ve been diving deeper into the evolving modern buying experience, and how different generations of buyers shop. We’ve previously covered Baby Boomers & Gen X, and Millennials.


What strategies do you employ to appeal to the evolving behaviors of Gen Z buyers? Join the conversation on Facebook, on Twitter @eBayforBusiness, or the eBay Community Board.