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Gen Z|June 09, 2021

WSL Dives Into Gen Z: The Categories & Retailers They Shop

Retailers and brands know a lot about how Gen Z shops, generally, but what about the ways they prioritize certain categories over others? From WSL report, “Gen Z: The Next Shopper Revolution,” here are a few category insights that surprised us. 

What Does Gen Z Want More, Enhanced Water or Yogurt? 

We’ve all been studying the heck out of Gen Z, and know a lot about how much they love to shop both online and in brick stores. We know they are passionate about their values. But when it comes down to how they prioritize specific categories, the understanding has been murkier. Sure, they like enhanced water, but does it get dibs over body lotion, or cheese?

From our How America Shops® studies, the new “Gen Z: The Next Shopper Revolution” report digs deep into Gen Z preferences across 41 categories, revealing which retailers they prefer for specific categories. From the results, retailers can learn their biggest competitors for Gen Z by category, by following the group’s wide go-to list, from specialty to mass to online-only retailers. 

For example, Target is on target for Gen Z: 61% of Gen Z consumers shopped Target, across categories, in the three months prior to the survey. That compares with 54% of the overall population. 

Walmart, however, does well with Gen Z in certain food categories:

  • 30% of Gen Z said they buy their enhanced water at Walmart, while just 16% do so at Target. 
  • More than four times as many Gen Z shoppers choose Walmart over Target for salty snacks – 51% vs. 12%. 

Want to learn about where Gen Z shops for your categories? Our How America Shops® report covers 41 categories from beauty to over-the-counter medication across 22 retailers. 

Here Are What Gen Z Attributes Tell Us 

We wanted to get behind Gen Z’s decisions to choose one retailer over another when it comes to these categories, so we asked them a range of psychographic and attitudinal questions, as well. Retailers and brands could benefit from these three trip-shaping takeaways.

  1. Experience matters. They may be young, but Gen Z knows and appreciates a good shopping experience. Yes, this group does like to shop CPG goods online, but unlike most shoppers, they have not cut back on trips to brick stores. They like to shop everywhere their daily routine takes them. It's up to retailers to make their stores innovative and interesting. 

  2. There’s a trust issue. Gen Z shoppers tend to prefer small brands and private label over national brands, because they trust them more. Regardless of size, all brands and retailers should seize on this trust opportunity. One way to do so: Support the values important to Gen Z, because they are almost always more willing than the general population to pay more to support their values

  3. They make more shopping trips, period. Online and in the store, Gen Z shoppers make more quick trips and planned trips than do other shoppers. They also are more likely to spontaneously purchase products in any store they are in – a cue to brands to display their products prominently in traditional retail and venture out to the places Gen Z likes to shop. 

It should surprise no one that the different ways in which Gen Z shops and the priorities they will live by are being shaped by the unique events they are living – like a pandemic, climate change, racial strife and extraordinary acceleration of digitally enabled shopping. Understanding their priorities takes a stepped-up effort in communicating with this customer group, in their language and their media.

Know the shopper, know the path. And then, know the rewards.

To get a direct download of the full list of categories and chains used in our report, “Gen Z: The Next Shopper Revolution,” click here.

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