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Retail marketers continue to focus their energies on Gen Z and Millennial consumers, and new survey results from ViSenze indicate that doing so should include a healthy level of importance attached to social media. That’s because about 6 in 10 Gen Z shoppers (ages 18-23) surveyed said they often discover products through social media platforms.

As a result, social media platforms emerged as a source of product awareness for more Gen Z respondents than did retailer websites (51%) and third-party e-commerce sites such as Amazon (44%).

This isn’t the first study to find social media to be a crucial awareness vehicle for Gen Z. A couple of years ago, research from Bluecore revealed that 85% of Gen Z consumers used social media to learn about new products.

It’s interesting to see that Gen Z consumers are more apt to turn to social media than to marketplaces to discover new products. A growing body of research is showing that these marketplaces aren’t seen as places to find new and unique items, despite being prized for product variety.

Millennials (ages 24-37), for their part, have slightly different product discovery patterns than their younger counterparts. They’re slightly less likely to often discover new products through social media (55%), while being more apt to do so at retailers’ physical locations (47%) and websites (57%).

What about advertising? While fewer young shoppers say they often discover products through ads, close to one-third (32%) of Gen Z respondents and one-quarter (24%) of Millennial respondents tout ads as a product discovery method.

In-Store Shopping More Frequent Than Online

Both Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are more apt to shop frequently in-store than online. Among Gen Z respondents, half often shop at a physical retail store (at least once a week), compared to 43% shopping online with that regularity.

Among Millennials, 60% report shopping in-store frequently, versus fewer than half (46%) doing so online.

Previous research from the NRF and IBM has also discovered that members of Gen Z prefer shopping in a store to shopping online.

Mobile’s Where It’s At Online

When shopping online, young consumers definitely have favored devices, and they aren’t desktops.

In fact, 79% of Gen Z respondents said they’re most likely to use a mobile device to discover products, as opposed to 20% using a desktop and just 1% an IoT device such as Amazon Alexa.

Millennials, likewise, strongly favor mobile devices (75%) over desktops (25%) and IoT devices (<1%) for product discovery.

The preference for mobiles extends to purchase activity, too, though with a little less fervor. Some 62% of Gen Z consumers say they’re most likely to complete a purchase or transaction on a mobile device, as are 64% of Millennials.

Things have certainly changed, given that Millennials separately reported that computers (62%) were their primary and preferred electronic device growing up, as opposed to mobile phones (36%) or tablets (2%).

Other Findings:

In other highlights from the report:

  • More than three-quarters of Millennials and about 6 in 10 Gen Z respondents are “likely” or “very likely” to purchase a product online that was recommended to them based on their recent purchases and browsing history (more on the impact of the “right” recommendation here);
  • Product recommendations are more enjoyable to young respondents when they’re personalized to the respondent than when they’re based on what people similar to them are interested in, though the gap is narrower among Millennial than Gen Z respondents;
  • More than 6 in 10 respondents overall would be comfortable with visual search as part of their online shopping experience, and close to 6 in 10 would be comfortable with shoppable content; and
  • More than 7 in 10 respondents overall feel their mobile transactions would increase if all social content were to be shoppable.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 1,000 Gen Z and Millennial consumers in the US and UK.

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