How Gen Z is Driving the Future of Retail


National Retail Federation | July 20, 2021


Exposed to online shopping and brands earlier than other generations, Gen Z is becoming the center of attention for retailers. At NRF, MaryLeigh Bliss, YPulse and Ken Wincko, Barnes & Noble College discussed research comparing shopping, brand and social media preferences and behaviors of Gen Z and millennials. Here are some of their insights -


Gen Z is constantly looking for brands that provide entertainment and personal connection, aligning with their social responsibilities. Gen Z self-reported they spend 4.5 hours on social media daily, while Millennials spend about 3.8 hours each day. The top social media platform for Gen Z is Instagram, followed by YouTube and TikTok. In contrast, the leading social media platforms for millennials are Facebook, YouTube and Facebook Messenger.


Both generations are using social media for product discovery. Barnes & Noble College found 80 percent of Gen Z follow and/or interact with brands online (No. 1 is Instagram), and 72 percent of those who engage with brands are somewhat/significantly more likely to buy a product. 21 percent of Gen Z would be much more likely to buy a product endorsed by a celebrity, whereas 15 percent of Millennials would buy a product if endorsed by a celebrity. With Gen Z ready to take over the economy in the next decade, retailers must engage with this digitally native generation across multiple platforms to hold its interest.


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Photo: Courtesy of WGSN