3 Millennial and Gen Z Holiday Behaviors Every Marketer Should Know

Marketers should be preparing for the holiday right now. This year there will be even more shoppers from younger generations than before who are looking for the best deals on products and brands they can find. This blog covers three must-know Gen Z and Millennial holiday shopping trends to help marketers prepare for those younger […]

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Marketers should be preparing for the holiday right now. This year there will be even more shoppers from younger generations than before who are looking for the best deals on products and brands they can find. This blog covers three must-know Gen Z and Millennial holiday shopping trends to help marketers prepare for those younger holiday shoppers. 

Millennials and Gen Z/Centennial shoppers will be hitting the holidays in full force, looking for the best deals on products and brands they can find. We recently examined seven holiday shopping trends and behaviors that marketers should expect in 2017, but marketers know that Gen Z and Millennials can be an entirely different marketing playbook. That’s why we took a look at three must-know Gen Z and Millennial holiday shopping trends for marketers to be aware of. Read on to learn what you need to know and do to be prepared for younger generations this holiday season.

1. Millennials and Gen Z Highly Value the In-Store Experience

It may surprise many that Millennial and Gen Z shoppers actually like shopping in-store, albeit for entirely different reasons than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Thanks to the power of e-commerce, shoppers today can compare products, research brands, read reviews, get advice, and evaluate prices and offers without ever setting foot outside the house. With the use of smartphones, consumers can shop in the comfort of their home and even while on the go. So, if the ability to do traditional in-store shopping behaviors can be done online, what’s compelling these younger shoppers to head into a brick and mortar location on Black Friday?

It turns out, the experience of in-store shopping itself is enough of a motivator for Millennials and Gen Z shoppers. 80% of 18-29-year-olds plan on shopping in various brick and mortar stores, according to an article on RetailDive, and during Black Friday, 45% of all shoppers will be within that age group.

This survey also gave new insights on why younger, tech-savvy shoppers would be shopping in stores. While the most natural assumption might be that they’re shopping in stores for gift ideas, which half of them (53%) are, the survey revealed that 35% enjoy the holiday atmosphere and 23% see in-store shopping as a social activity.

This is a great insight into the mentality of younger demographics who will be out shopping during the holidays. The tech-savvy generations who grew up with the experience of finding, comparing, and purchasing products digitally are already familiar with how to achieve this – what they want is something they can do with friends and family, while enjoying the time of year for what it is. The in-store shopping experience is a novelty to them and they want to take advantage of that. eMarketer even noted that Gen Z shoppers are building their own set of expectations for this novelty such as anticipating in-store shopping and online shopping to work in tandem with one another, creating a seamless experience.

However, where does that leave us as digital marketers? Luckily, in a pretty good spot. The affiliate channel offers opportunities for advertisers to partner with publishers that have in-store offers available for customers to take advantage of; card-linked offers is a great example of this, and coupons that can be scanned at the checkout counter being another. We recently discussed this topic in an advertiser webinar (available on demand now for all Rakuten Marketing advertisers in the Help Center) and noted that these kinds of offers are becoming a high expectation. Jumping on this early can help give you a competitive edge during the holiday season. Other marketing channels can promote the in-store experience by building awareness and anticipation for what younger demographics can find in-store, while at the same time finding ways to push offers and deals that digital shoppers can utilize in brick and mortar retailers.

2. Their Spending Will Be Very Controlled For Different Reasons

When we’ve previously discussed Gen Z and Millennial shopping behaviors, we made some distinct observations on their preferences. Millennials tend to be more frugal spenders for a number of reasons. Older and younger Millennials alike tend to have more expenses (ranging from a mortgage and child care costs, to rent and utility payments), and are very guarded with their spending because they were impacted heavily during the recession. Centennials, meanwhile, tend to have a smaller budget than Millennials, but greater overall freedom for spending. Since the oldest Gen Z’ers are in college currently, they have minimal financial obligations – if any. This gives them the flexibility to spend a higher percentage of their monthly income, and feel a little bit more confident about their spending.

In both of these situations, value and deals will be crucial for winning the business of these demographics. Offer deals for multiple opportunities – these are savvy shoppers, after all, and will want to make the most of their purchase. If they can stack a free shipping offer with additional cash back, for example, they’ll find a way to take advantage of this opportunity. This is a great chance for you to promote offers out and reach these demographics when they’re getting ready to make a purchase, or even beforehand when they’re evaluating specific offers and deals that will be available to them.

3. Millennials and Gen Z Shoppers Will Enter the Holiday Season Prepared
By the time Cyber Week deals start surfacing, Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are already fully entrenched in their research and selection process. When the deals go live, these two demographics will know almost exactly what they’re looking for, how much they want to spend, and what they’re hoping to get.

According to the National Retail Federation, 79% of Gen Z shoppers will research a product no matter what the price point is, and 54% began researching products and brands during the month of October. Though the research period of Gen Z shoppers tends to fall in line with traditional shoppers, the amount of importance that Gen Zers put on price point cannot be overstated enough. The cost of a product is huge for these shoppers because, as we mentioned above, they may have more freedom to spend their money but they’ll have less of an overall budget to spend with. That means every product they choose will be meticulously vetted and selected for cost and value.

Millennial holiday shoppers will be just as careful with evaluating their decisions. 95% of Millennials decided to webroom at some point during the 2016 holiday season to ensure that they knew what they were getting and that it would be available when they went in store to make a purchase. Likewise, if and when Millennials step into a store during the holiday season, it’s not because they’re done researching – eMarketer noted that over half of Millennials (52%) were using their mobile devices in-store to compare prices, and 37% were looking for coupons or discounts they could take advantage of. Almost right up to the point of purchase, Millennials were researching products, prices, and deals before making a decision.

Digital marketers need to make sure they’re keeping everything as research-friendly as possible, because these generations are going to be taking full advantage of every bit of content they can grab. Build awareness, make your content search-friendly and targeted, and create deals that provide incentive. Also, be mindful of how these users shop – since they’re researching online but may be doing that online research in-store, provide any opportunity to offer an in-store deal that you can leverage.


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