Youth marketing
min read

Ecommerce brands Gen Z loves for holiday shopping

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
October 11, 2023
Last updated
March 7, 2024

What this article covers

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The festive period is the biggest spending period in Gen Z's calendars. It's the time for hot chocolates, fairy lights and Michael Bublé to come out of hibernation. With young people eager to treat family and friends (and themselves), the holiday period should be top of every youth marketer's priority list.

And we're here to help you get ahead.

This year, young people are more organised than ever before, with 50% from the US (48% UK) starting their holiday shopping in November and 21% (22% UK) in October, with only 14% (19% UK) leaving it until December. Unsurprisingly, rising inflation is impacting this year's festivities: of those whose shopping habits have changed in the last year, 83% of Gen Z shoppers in the UK think the rising cost of living will impact their spending. But despite this, 85% will still be buying gifts for others during the festive period.

So, with young people still wanting to get into the festive spirit but being more aware of what's leaving their wallets and when, what's the secret to securing their spending? And which brands are catching the attention of Gen Z this year? In this blog, we share key insights and actionable takeaways.

How are Gen Zers doing their festive shopping this year?

The IRL world may present a number of exciting opportunities over the Christmas period, but Gen Zers are digital natives and live and breathe the online world. And this, of course, shapes their shopping habits.

Our research revealed that, in the UK and US, 51% of Gen Zers prefer to shop online. When we break this down, 37% said they shop online on their phone's browser and 14% prefer to use apps (UK).

Over the shoulder view of a mobile phone with a white screen in the hands of a blond girl.

What about payment?

Over the festive period, Gen Zers are planning to utilise the following payment types:

  • Debit card - 70%
  • Cash - 47%
  • Credit card - 29%
  • Klarna - 17%
  • BNPL - 15%

Ecommerce tips: Where are Gen Z shopping this festive season?

A significant 38% of Gen Zers from the UK and 31% from the UK have shopped less in person in the last 12 months but more online. Given the simplicity of the digital world and the convenience of next day delivery, is it any real surprise that ecommerce brands are set to be hot with Gen Z this festive season?!

The most popular sectors that young shoppers are planning to buy from this holiday season are:

  1. Beauty and skincare (68% UK, 58% US)
  2. Fashion (66% UK, 58% US)
  3. Health and wellness (43% UK, 36% US)

And in terms of who's leading the way within each vertical? Well, check out our 'hot this season' predictions below...

Hot this Christmas: ecommerce brands Gen Z loves for the festive season

Beauty and skincare: Kitsch

Haircare brand Kitsch has been all over TikTok this year thanks to their viral product, Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set. With social media filled with content creators sharing their top tips and tricks for using the product (with stunning results) and discount codes, this brand is really connecting with these digital natives. 

@jamievanslooten trying to use less heat on my hair this summer!! use code JAMIE for 25% off!! #heatlesscurls #heatlesshair #heatlesshairstyles #overnightcurls #partner @Kitsch ♬ Just A Girl - No Doubt

We predict that every luscious-locked Gen Zer will be adding Kitsch to their wishlist this year. 

Fashion: Patagonia

Patagonia are known for being good eggs. They’re champions of sustainability, and last year their founder even gave the company to a charitable trust and said any profit not reinvested in the business would go towards fighting climate change. 

And young shoppers love them for it. To quote Gen Zer Ed, who spoke on one of our panels: “I would much rather spend a little bit extra money and get a better quality item that’s going to last me for triple, four times the lifespan that something from ASOS would.”

And the Patagonia fleece is taking centre stage. 

Perhaps part of the ‘dad core’ trend, the brand’s once-considered-ugly-but-now-cool fleeces are popular amongst Gen Z. From ‘granola girlies’ to the typical 20-something London boy, these fleeces signal comfort, style and a commitment to change. 

Health and wellness: Free Soul

Health and wellness girlies, rise up. This one’s for you. 

Free Soul has been popular in the health and wellness space for some time now thanks to their FS-Greens drink  (a quick and efficient (albeit disgusting) way of getting your daily nutrients in), but their new product has hit TikTok by storm. 

@annaarcherfitness mango greens girlies unite 🥭🌱⭐️ i can’t get over how good they taste ahhh @Free Soul #gymvlogwithanna #greensreview ♬ Caribbean resort refreshing blue sky walk - SOUND BANK

FS-Greens Mango allegedly tastes delicious but still provides you with all the wellness goodness, and Gen Zers are taking to social media to share their honest (and often shocked) reviews. The brand is particularly benefitting from UGC created by some of the hottest wellness influencers right now, including Anna Archer. 

We’ll be honest, this is sitting in our virtual basket right now. 

3 top tips for engaging Gen Z with your ecommerce brand

So we know where Gen Zers are planning on spending their pennies this festive season and we've looked at some success stories, but how can you put this into action and engage Gen Z with your ecommerce brand? Below, we share our top tips...

1. Maximise influencer marketing opportunities

For those Gen Zers who celebrate Christmas, 38% from the UK want to engage with festive marketing on TikTok, with 58% favouring creative content.

And who are the experts when it comes to creativity and authenticity on social media? Content creators, of course! Working with influencers is an effective way of tapping into the Gen Z market and making your marketing stand out. Creators know their platforms and communities better than brands ever will, meaning their messaging will always be spot on. According to Gen Zer Pamela, who spoke at our YMS NYC event: "Influencers are a really big part of my shopping habits - if I see them trying something and they're mentioning it a lot in videos, it definitely makes me want to try it."

And with this targeted engagement comes trust. And what does trust equal? Higher conversion rates and sales! Be sure to check out our influencer marketing product: Student Beans Creators to find out how you can use peer-to-peer content to engage Gen Z students this holiday season.

2. Offer good customer service

This is a quick win because this should be something you prioritise anyway! Having good customer service is vital when targeting any audience, but particularly in the case of Gen Z. Any negative experience will be publicly shared (yep, you'll be named and shamed), whilst any positive experiences will lead to raving reviews to family and friends.

Your goal should be to appear on a #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt video, and not to be a victim of the recent deinfluencing trend...

3. Get in the Christmas spirit with deals and discounts

"Anywhere with a student discount, I'm gonna check it out!"; important words from Gen Z panellist Sandrah, who spoke at YMS. If that isn't motivation for boosting your discount offerings this festive season, then what on earth is?!

Offering extra special deals and stackable discounts over the festive season is a great way to stand out from the crowd, catch Gen Z's attention, offer them financial support, and earn their loyalty way into the future. Win, win, win!

A key tip from us: Make sure these discounts have a prominent position on your brand's homepage so that your target audience is immediately engaged upon visiting the site. Take it one step further by promoting your discount code via socials and email.

Unsure where to start or what to supercharge your current offering? Get in touch with the team at Pion today for more!

Want more tips, tricks and festive marketing goodness? Subscribe to our Weekly Briefing newsletter now for insights, resources and nuggets of Gen Z wisdom.

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