Understanding Generation Z: Shopping and Retail Habits


Understanding Gen Z's Shopping Habits

Gen Z’s preference to shop in brick-and-mortar stores rather than strictly online is a reflection of the importance of the shopping experience to this generation.

While they will spend time researching a product online, this generation of shoppers wants to see, touch and try the item before making a purchase. With online shopping, they say there is a risk of getting something they don’t like and having to return it. As 22-year-old Paige from NYC puts it, “How do you even mail something these days?”

This preference for purchasing in-store spans all retail categories. To satisfy
Gen Zs, retailers must provide them with the seamless and enjoyable web-to-store shopping experience they expect. For instance, if they have shoes in their shopping cart while shopping online, they expect to have access to them when they are in the store.

 have high expectations for customer service. They want retailers to stand by their products and offer a good return policy. It’s also important that they have an enjoyable shopping experience in a clean, safe, organized store.

Like other generations, Gen Z loves a good bargain (although they rarely compare prices). Their definition of savings, however, is more narrow than preceding generations. Gen Z seeks savings and discounts at point of sale. They are motivated by sales and discounts instead of rewards or loyalty programs.

Gen Zs are less likely than Millennials to say they are interested in joining a frequent shopper program, partly because they don’t understand the advantages of doing so. This presents an opportunity for retailers to introduce loyalty benefits to Gen Z with rewards they find relevant and appealing.


Gen Zs will redefine the retail industry within the next decade. Ethnically diverse and ready to work hard, this generation is optimistic about the future. Although they are intrinsically digital in their everyday lives, they also have high expectations for their in-store shopping experiences.

To succeed, brands must meet or exceed these expectations. Those who become proactive in understanding and delighting this generation will be the ones with a competitive advantage in the coming years.

"A new kind of shopper is on the rise in Generation Z, with unique habits, behaviors and expectations.  Generation Z will soon become the largest generation in the workplace and marketplace.  Brands who get to know them now are destined to be the disruptors of tomorrow."
Bart Schaller, CMO, Synchrony

The insights for this white paper were gathered using a multiphased research approach.

All references to consumers and population refer to survey respondents, except where specifically cited

Synchrony leveraged existing syndicated and secondary data to identify insights and knowledge gaps before kicking off Synchrony research..
Timing: May – July 2017

Synchrony partnered with market research and strategy firm Chadwick Martin Bailey to conduct an online immersion with Gen Z participants in four U.S. markets. Subsequently, in-home interviews (ethnographies) and shopping excursions were concluded.
Timing: October – November 2017

For comparison, Synchrony conducted a multigenerational survey with over 4,000 respondents.
Timing: December 2017 – January 2018

Click here for details on Gen Z's outlook on finances and the future.

For more insights from Synchrony, click here.

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual attorney, financial or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

© 2018 Synchrony. All rights reserved. No reuse without prior written consent from Synchrony.


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