Customer Experience, Service & Success

Move Over Search: 80% of Gen Z Shoppers To Use Social This Holiday

SimplicityDX Research Finds Gen Z Shoppers Think First About Social Media for Holiday Shopping, but 74% Plan To Check Out on Brand Websites

SimplicityDX, the edge experience company, today announced its latest research report “What Gen Z Thinks About Holiday Season Shopping 2022,” which highlights significant discoveries in how U.S. Generation Z shop and their use of social media this holiday season.

An infographic is available at, and a brief video explainer is available at

Eighty percent plan to use social media to find gifts this year, with 41% planning to use it for most or all of their holiday shopping. This echoes a statement by a Google executive at Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2022 that studies show approximately 40% of Gen Z search for a place to eat first on TikTok or Instagram.

This new research was conducted in early October among 1,000 U.S. online shoppers, including 500 Gen Z shoppers (under 25s). It shows that social media is now a mainstream shopping destination for Gen Z shoppers:

  • 93% use social media as part of their buying process.
  • 51% think social media is a great place to learn about new products, while 22% think it’s a great place to buy new products.
  • 74% prefer to check out on the brand site and not buy on the social platform itself.
  • 60% of the shopping activity is covered by two platforms, Instagram and TikTok.

This reinforces the pattern of using social for product discovery, potentially with influencers, but buying directly on the brand site.

“The majority of the next generation of consumers start their shopping at the edge and finish by checking out on the brand site,” said Charles Nicholls, co-founder and chief strategy officer at SimplicityDX. “Their preference for using social media for shopping should be a wake-up call to all brands targeting Gen Z — and an early warning that the way consumers buy is changing.”

Promotions and Experience: Key Holiday Purchasing Triggers

Unsurprisingly, the most important factor triggering a potential holiday purchase for Gen Z is the availability of promotions. However, Gen Z shoppers place a lot more emphasis on customer experience than older consumers.

  • 28% of Gen Z shoppers consider getting a great bargain with a discount code or a promotional offer to be the most important factor.
  • 26% of Gen Z shoppers consider customer experience to be the most important factor, compared with only 14% for other age groups.

SimplicityDX’s Social Commerce Returns research shows that returning products is a major friction point, and only 17% of shoppers that bought and returned a product through a social media platform would be willing to shop on social again in the future.

“The prevalence of scams, fake news, and inauthentic influencer endorsements has conditioned Gen Z to be wary and to seek out authenticity,” Nicholls continued. “The strong preference to buy on the brand site is driven by several factors: 1) trust in the brand is important, 2) product availability and assortment frequently differ on social, 3) returns, and 4) critically over the holiday period, promotions on the brand’s site are frequently not reflected in social media product catalogs.”

Gen Z – Tech Savvy, but Untrusting

Trust remains a big issue with 61% of Gen Z stating that either 1) they don’t trust social networks, or 2) they think that social networks are abusing their personal data.

Trust is a much bigger issue for Gen Z than just trusting the social network. The research also highlights skepticism among Gen Z about influencers. Almost two-thirds think that influencers are most useful for finding out about new products, while nearly half think that influencers are most useful for recommendations.

But when it comes to buying, 36% consider influencers to be less trustworthy, and 59% prefer to buy directly from the brand site, not from the influencer.

Survey Methodology

SimplicityDX surveyed 1,000 U.S. online shoppers in October 2022. The online research was split into two groups for comparison: online shoppers for all age groups, sample size of 500, and Generation Z (under 25s) only, with an additional sample of 500.

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