Thursday, 19 January 2023

The biggest Gen Z shopping trends of 2023

Written by Alex Gallagher
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Mike Von

2023 is officially here. A new year brings with it new opportunity as we all set out our goals for the 12 months ahead. These opportunities extend to fashion brands, who are (or at least should be) primed to seize this moment and evolve their businesses by connecting with their ever-evolving consumer audiences.

If a fashion brand wants to grow in 2023, there is one golden consumer cluster to look for: Gen Z with their unique shopping trends and spending habits.

For many brands, Gen Z consumers should be at the top of their target list. In the last year, they have shown real resilience and adaptability to traverse societal challenges and come out fighting. Now representing 40% of the total consumer base in the UK, the expected purchasing trends and shopping habits of Gen Z are on the mind of a lot of brands and retailers.

They must take the time to understand and anticipate what matters most to this demographic in the year ahead. But how can they ensure they are keeping the interest of this crucial consumer base?

A Tiktok Supremacy

Looking to connect with Gen Z? There should be only one brand priority and that, unsurprisingly, is TikTok.

There are over 3.7 million active TikTok users in the UK, engaging with the app for an average of 41 minutes a day. Significantly, 60% of global users are Gen Z.

This is their comfort zone, their go-to destination to be both entertained and educated. In fact, nearly all our UNiDAYS student users (95%) report that they use TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube for product tutorials and recommendations.

This presents a real opportunity for brands to consistently communicate naturally with their target audience as part of their day-to-day routine. There are several avenues brands can take to reach consumers on TikTok, from organic posts to paid promotions.

Influencers, in particular, still have the power to connect with their Gen Z followers on a personal level. This provides brands with an opportunity to tap into these audiences and drive newfound affinity. Our research has found that Gen Z is 45% likely to buy a product endorsed by an influencer they follow.

By connecting with them on the platform they love, brands are giving themselves the best possible chance of finding success with Gen Z both this year and beyond.

High Street Standing Strong

The pre-loved industry is booming, with Gen Z leading the way. Second-hand and vintage clothing are certainly en vogue with young consumers, with charity shops, car boot sales and resell websites becoming go to shopping destinations.

What is driving this move to preloved? Sustainability is certainly a factor. As the most informed, connected, and socially aware consumers in history, they are aware of the global impact of brands in-store and through the supply chain. Buying second-hand feeds their environmental consciousness.

However, recent research from UNiDAYS has found this is not the number one factor for Gen Z. Three-quarters of our student members (73%) said they purchase pre-loved, primarily, for financial reasons, with this being a cheaper alternative to buying new.

This is where brands can learn and adapt to win back business. Gen Z is price-savvy and always on the look-out for deals and offers from brands. Unsurprisingly research shows that Gen Z are almost all on the lookout for a good deal, however, over one quarter (29%) are also ready to actively wait for a discount before making a purchase.

Finding the right moment to offer Gen Z-friendly prices remains crucial to winning their loyalty. While inflation and supply chain pressures mean brands can’t offer discounts year-round, 82% of Gen Z are loyal to brands offering regular discounts.

Ready To Spend

Despite economic uncertainty, the time to win Gen Z’s business is now: a new survey from ASOS revealed that over two-thirds of Gen Z (69%) will spend the same or more on clothes and fashion in 2023.

In order to seize this opportunity and ensure they continue to build loyalty with 18-24 year olds, brands must ensure they are offering consumers the full retail experience, meeting Gen Z online and in-store.

As the first digital-native generation, Gen Z is of course well-versed in the online shopping experience. However, the shopping experience doesn’t end there for them. The in-store shopping experience still plays an important role when deciding what to buy. They want the best of both worlds, with nearly half of students preferring to shop both online and in-store.

Brands must find balance in their offer. Having the right combination of the two worlds is core to creating the desired experience for Gen Z. Research from Ayden found that 48% of Gen Zers expect to be able to return or exchange items bought online in the physical store.

And being the environmentally conscious generation that they are, our recent Sustainability report found that two-fifths of 18-24-year-olds would prefer to collect parcels from stores after shopping online rather than have them delivered directly to their homes.

Moving forward, going the extra mile to offer a fully integrated retail experience will ensure brands maximise their appeal to Gen Z customers as they get ready to spend on essentials in the year ahead.

A Year Of Opportunity

Through Gen Z, brands are without doubt facing the most demanding consumer generation to date; to earn their custom brands must join the conversations that matter to them. TikTok now leads the way as the stand out platform on which to engage Gen Z and better understand what they want as brands seek the perfect balance between their digital and physical offers.

Balancing this with the ever-present urge to increase business sustainability presents a major challenge for brands. However, while Gen Z’s expectations continue to soar, their influence cannot be underestimated and also continues to grow. They are the present and future core consumers for all brands, setting trends that also impact Millennials and Generation X behaviours too.

The time is now for brands. By understanding these prevailing trends and adapting to them, they can unlock a powerful and lucrative new consumer base in 2023.

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