Alexa Millennials and GenZ and the differences in their shopping behavior

Millennials and GenZ: How Different Are They

Sales | by Steve Conway
Different between Millennials and GenZ

A few years and even a few months can make a difference in the world. Before Covid hit the world, we saw a pragmatic Gen Z, expecting brands to innovate and deliver something new constantly. They are driven by social media so much so that most of their decisions are influenced by what they are seeing and experiencing by being social. On the other hand, Millennials were idealistic, committed to their favorite brands, and willing to pay for experiences. They are specifically brand loyals, which they try to maintain as long as they can.

However, the world around us and the people around shifted after the on-off global lockdown for two years, and we are now witnessing a new perspective. While the current scenario does not identify any clear-cut differences anymore – there’s some noticeable changes in the shopping habits. Thankfully, brands are realizing the change and trying to crack the personality quirks of these generations. They enjoy the challenge as it’s part of the buyer’s psychology.

Millennial Age Range

Who are these Millennials? People born between 1981-1997 are part of the Millennial group. Which means, today, the Millennials are 24 to 41 years old. These people have seen the best (the worst as well) of both ages. As a result, their shopping behaviour reflects a mixed influence.

Generation Z Age Range

Gen Z was born between 1997 and 2015, making them the youngest generation of shoppers till now. As we are in 2022, Gen Z is 7 to 25 years old. We must remember, not all of these generations are into shopping – as many of them are in grade school or high school, college, or not working as of now. As the years’ pass, it will be interesting to witness how their shopping habits take shape when they are also earning.

Generational Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z: In Response To Shopping Habits

When it comes to shopping, interacting with various brands, and viewing money, there are quite a few differences between Millennials and Gen Z. Also, there are some exceptions too.

Gen Z Spends Less Than Millennials, Save In Different Manners

Since inflation, the shopping behaviors of Millennials and Gen Z have shifted. At least 27% of Millennials and 30% of Gen Z are buying much less because of inflation. However, only 13% of Gen Z is buying more private-label products to save money – whereas 27% of Millennials prefer it.

Most Millennials have families to raise than Gen Z. They are choosing private-label products to cut down on grocery bills that are on a steady rise – thanks to inflation.

Most of Gen Z are yet to form households – so they save money on non-discretionary items. Due to inflation, at least 22% are okay with buying secondhand products rather than something new. Of course, 19% of Millennials also choose to buy secondhand items. Few Gen Z ( just 18%) use the buy-now-pay-later system, while fewer Millennials (only 15%) use this payment option.
Online Shopping Is Great – But Millennials Prefer In-Store Purchases (Instant Gratification)
As of today, Millennials are devoted online shoppers. They witnessed AOL dial-up to continuous connectivity – so they are never backing down from utilizing this convenience always. However, they still love shopping from stores more than Gen Z.

But why? What can give such instant gratification as in-store shopping? Also, one gets to purchase merchandise immediately rather than wait for delivery – so it’s a plus. A retailer with easy in-store fulfillment options, thoughtful store layout, and seamless checkout attracts Millennials more. Millennials prefer to pick up an item at a nearby store on the way to their home from the office than a place with just a single-item order online.

Gen Z Loves Fast Delivery As It Is Convenient

Gen Z wants their grocery to be at their doorstep at rocket speed. As they grew up with the on-demand economy – Uber, Instacart, Lyft, DoorDash, and UberEats are part of their growing up. And their favorite GoPuff has been delivering everything in under 30 minutes – since 2013.

That’s why 76% of Gen Z don’t care about brand over convenience, but 70% of Millennials do. For Gen Z, getting their grocery within an hour is of the highest preference, along with their alcohol demand. Very few Millennials look forward to fast and convenient delivery over brands.

Social Shopping For Gen Z, More Traditional For Millennials

Whether we acknowledge it or not, Gen Z has grown up with tablets in their hands – it makes them comfortable to shop through digital channels. Interestingly, they love social shopping through Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to make purchases. Also, 41% of Gen Z feel at ease shopping through social influencers. Millennials are a little bit less enthusiastic about the channels – 58% prefer social shopping, but 32% go shopping via influencers.

Millennials Earn Points, While Gen Z likes fee-based loyalty programs

For Gen Z, usual loyalty programs are not head turners- only 45% enroll. Therefore, brands and retailers must develop eBay to understand programs and use them to draw Gen Z. Simple terms and conditions are a way to persuade 57% of Gen Z (as they disclosed themselves) to join any loyalty programs. Of course, rewards should be applied automatically. Also, more than half a percentage of Gen Z prefers a single loyalty program for multiple brands over separate ones for each brand. That’s not all; they would join a loyalty program more if they got personalized rewards.

Unlike Gen Z, Millennials are more delighted with loyalty programs- 61% claim membership in at least one loyalty program. However, like Gen Z, they also like to join a program with a personalized rewards system (60%) and, if applied automatically (61%).

Both generations have distinct preferences for loyalty programs. While 65% of Gen Z choose programs where purchasing products or services earns them points- 46% prefer earning cash back. Millennials (78%) love earning points and money back- also, 53% confirm that rewards intrigue them to join. Astonishingly, the budget-conscious Gen Z (at least 27%) are willing to be part of a fee-based loyalty program- they can pay for better perks. But, among Millennials, only 21% are ready for this program.

Less Loyalty Among Gen Z Shoppers?

If you are a Millennial, you probably have a few favorite brands and are not afraid to flaunt them. Interestingly, almost 70% of shoppers trust their favorite brands to meet their expectations and changing needs. But why is that? Because these shoppers feel a deep emotional connection with these brands as they feel satisfied with the products and services.

Around 79% of buyers expect their most-liked brands to understand their expectations. Among them, 68% look forward to a company’s anticipation of their needs. These generations of buyers believe brand loyalty comes from reciprocity. However, a higher percentage of buyers expect brands to personalize all the offers.

When it’s Gen Z, 63% feel emotionally connected to their favorite brands. Almost 70% think that brands must meet their unique expectations and needs. But 54% expect all brand offers to be personalized.

Selling Across Both The Generations

Remember that Millennials and Gen Z have different approaches to shopping, choosing a brand, and sticking to it. But brands still have to build greater trust among these generations. How? Brands have to understand the widely available data as their trump card. It will enable them to understand what the shoppers of these generations want and make personalized offers for them.

Millennials are Gen Z like honest and transparent communication (97% and 96%, respectively) and consistency in every interaction with a brand/company (95% and 93%). Of course, both generations are concerned about customer information privacy. Therefore, they want assurance of the same (at least 92% of Gen z, 97% of Millennials)

One crucial finding is that 91% of Gen Z and 95% of Millennials want to be seen as individuals, not as a group. Henceforth, brands must offer custom and unique interactions, products, services, and rewards for both generations. The idea is to evolve the strategies according to the change in shopping habits and match their individualism.


It is interesting to witness how some significant events can affect the shopping habits of generations of people. As two years of shutting down affected the world economically and mentally, it reflects on how different generations approach shopping today. We found an overlap of influence in the shopping habits between Gen Z and Millennials to another level.

There are many similarities and disparities between Millennials and Gen Z. From trusting various brands to approaching shopping and loyalty programs, we have identified the multiple visions.

Even though many Millennials are 41 now, they still look young. That being said, Millennials and Gen Z see each marketing campaign differently. Therefore, campaigners need to study both generations through available data. These data can give insight into what type of campaigns marketers should approach to invite both Gen Z and Millennials. There are no more clear-cut differences in what influences Gen Z and Millennials—making it challenging and fun for the campaigners to find out what works best to attract both groups.

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