85 Percent of Generation Z Admit the Influence of Social Media Platforms on their Purchasing Choices

A recent study conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reveals that social media plays a significant role in shaping the buying decisions of Generation Z. The report indicates that a substantial portion of participants from this era of Gen Zs, accounting for 85 percent, confirming that social media directly impacts their purchasing choices. It is worth noting that both men and women equally attribute their purchasing decisions to the impact of social media, with 85 percent and 86 percent of men and women acknowledging its significance, respectively.

When it comes to specific social media platforms, Instagram and TikTok emerged as the top influencers among Gen Z, with 45 percent of participants stating that these platforms sway their purchasing decisions. Closely behind at 38 percent is YouTube, while Snapchat, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter held varying degrees of influence at 17 percent, 24 percent, 7 percent, and 14 percent respectively.

The report not only focuses on the role of social media but also delves into Gen Z's preferred shopping destinations. Discount or off-price stores were identified as the ones they most often visited retailers by almost half (48 percent) of Gen Z respondents. After off-price or discount stores, dollar stores are at 25 percent, department stores at 21 percent, fast-fashion retailers at 22 percent, and specialty retailers at 24 percent. In contrast, only 13 percent of respondents indicated that they frequently shop secondhand, and a mere 9 percent mentioned luxury retailers as their preferred shopping destinations.

Moreover, the ICSC report provides insights into the financial behaviors and anxieties of Generation Z. Among the surveyed Gen Z participants, 41 percent indicated that they prioritize saving over spending, while 36 percent admitted to often having spent more than they are able to save. It is noteworthy that a significant majority of older Gen Z individuals, specifically those between the ages of 23 and 26, expressed worries about the state of the U.S. economy, surpassing the percentage of 16- to 17-year-olds who shared similar concerns.

These discoveries are consistent with earlier studies that demonstrate the financial concerns of Gen Z shoppers. A survey conducted by Piper Sandler in the spring of 2023 showed a slight 2 percent rise in self-reported spending among teenagers compared to the previous year. However, a Bank of America report from September 2022 emphasized that a significant 73 percent of Gen Z consumers faced difficulties in saving money due to the prevailing economic conditions, with 56 percent expressing heightened financial pressure as a result of inflation.

The ICSC report additionally offers valuable insights into the key elements that hold great importance for Gen Z shoppers during their shopping experience. Close to half of the respondents (46 percent) highlighted the significance of a smooth and hassle-free checkout process. Fast shipping (45 percent) and the availability of products in physical stores without delay (39 percent) were also identified as crucial factors. Furthermore, aspects such as the option for free returns (31 percent) and the provision of prompt and helpful customer service (27 percent) were cited as essential components contributing to a satisfactory shopping experience.

Recognizing the expanding significance of Generation Z as a demographic wielding greater financial influence, Tom McGee, the President and CEO of ICSC, acknowledged the need to challenge preconceived notions associated with this cohort. While dispelling certain stereotypes, he emphasized that the habits of Generation Z will undoubtedly exert a profound impact on retail strategies, marketplace dynamics, and wider economic trends in the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, the report highlights the significant role of social media in shaping the purchasing decisions of Generation Z. However, it is important to note that friends and family play the most influential role in their buying choices, as confirmed by 56 percent of respondents. Additionally, product reviews (54 percent) and third-party review forums and websites (47 percent) also hold substantial sway over the decision-making process of this generation.

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