min read

What Trends Will Impact Gen Z’s Shopping Habits This Festive Season?

Written by
Published on
September 11, 2023
Last updated
January 18, 2024

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Magnum sales are through the roof, you’ve cracked out the flip flops and you’re frantically googling if it’s mandatory to go to work if your office doesn’t have air conditioning. The rumours are true: the long-awaited Indian Summer is in full swing in the UK, and thoughts of Autumn (let alone the festive season) are far from our collective minds.

Businesses, I need to bring you back down to Earth

If the weather feels unpredictable, this truism will give you a (begrudging) taste of reality. Like it or not, winter is coming. And what does winter bring? Festivities, panic and the busiest time of year for brands.

It’s time to start thinking about strategy, stat.

What will the festive season look like?

It’s been a weird old year, hasn’t it? The cost-of-living crisis took an even more enveloping toll in 2023, and as we enter the third year of this financial mess, there appears to be little sign of a clean up.

More often than not, the festive season revolves around gift giving. Christmas is arguably the most expensive time of the year. We shop for our friends, our families, attend holiday parties and splash the cash on much anticipated festive menus (there’s a time and place for brie and cranberry, and it’s coming soon…).

However, what happens when you simply can’t afford the holiday season?

For Gen Z, anxiety, first and foremost. According to our research, 67% of Gen Z have suffered from poor mental health due to their financial situation, and 60% shared that they’re anxious about their money situation. 

Last year, our data showed that almost half of young people (49%) were reducing the number of gifts they were planning on buying – and it looks like this sentiment is set to continue in 2023. 

According to recent data, a whopping 83% of UK Gen Zers shared that the cost-of-living crisis will impact their spending this year. In the US, the same rings true, with 72% sharing this view.

Skint Szn

  • 32% shared they have been negatively impacted by the rising cost of living 
  • 26% are looking to save more for the future
  • 21% will be spending more time indoors to save
  • Only 7% have more disposable income than last year

(UK and US Data, September 2023)

What online trends will reign supreme this holiday season?

Social media has long been one of the most fruitful ways to reach Gen Z. 86% of Gen Z frequently use Instagram, whilst 80% of 18-24 year olds are avid TikTok users. 

When it comes to advertising on these platforms, one app was a clear winner for Gen Z: TikTok (are we surprised?!).

34% of Gen Zers in the UK and the US want to see holiday marketing on TikTok this year, compared to 16% for Instagram, and 15% via YouTube.

Spotlight on TikTok Shop

Forget scrolling away: a well-thought out integration with Shopify allows TikTok users to shop neatly within the platform.

This integration has been a gamechanger for both consumers and brands, giving merchants the opportunity to sell directly to their audiences via in-feed videos and livestreams.


Perhaps most importantly, TikTok Shop “allows brands to tap into communities”, as shared by Alice Worley, Creator Agency Partnerships Lead at TikTok, who spoke at our YMS LDN event. As we discuss regularly at Student Beans, communities are everything on TikTok (just check out our recent Gen Z Subcultures: Reaching the Unreachables webinar!), and TikTok Shop allows brands to leverage these dedicated communities by getting involved in the already-existing conversations.

TikTok Made Me Buy It...

This isn’t just a hashtag for Gen Z: it’s a way of life.

#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 67 billion views – and this number is growing daily. This festive season, we predict brands will leverage the FOMO effect of this trend to promote their viral products, and launch new campaigns. Harnessing the power of the creator is critical for success in this trend. This is something we’re all too familiar with at Voxburner and Student Beans…

Student Beans Creators

Gen Z are becoming increasingly ad-adverse (see what we did there?). Good advertising needs to blend seamlessly into their feeds, rather than feeling like an awkward hard sell. Creators come in handy here – and we’re pretty well versed in the subject, whilst you’re here. 

Student Beans (our sister company) works with a variety of young creators to deliver real, authentic campaigns to their peers. This festive season, having a creator marketing strategy will be vital to delivering conversions. You can learn more about this through our Creator Marketing Guide, and check out some campaigns in action below:

https://www.tiktok.com/@maddieingoldsby/video/7127768542992157957?embed_source=121355059%2C121351166%2C121331973%2C120811592%2C120810756%3Bnull%3Bembed_masking&refer=embed&referer_url=partner.studentbeans.com%2Fblog%2Fmarketing-to-students%2Fwhat-trends-will-impact-gen-zs-shopping-habits-this-festive-season%2F&referer_video_id=7075380658314562822

Gen Z wants the best of both worlds

Life on social might be popping, but it’s not the only place brands should be directing their marketing efforts. Gen Zers still want an omnichannel experience, with 84% preferring to shop both online and in-store. 

For many, the magic of the festive season comes from the IRL experience. We’re talking glittery shop windows, lights in the trees and immersive in-store displays. To truly grab the attention of Gen Z this holiday season, it’s key for brands to offer a unique experience.

Quick fire tips...

  1. Use QR codes throughout stores

The perfect way of blending IRL and URL, QR codes encourage interactivity. They also give you the opportunity to share exclusive content and personalised discounts that shoppers can only access by visiting an in-person store

  1. Good customer service matters

This one goes without saying, but offering exemplary customer service in the online and offline worlds is essential to Gen Z. Any negative experiences will be publicly shared, and a good experience will lead to recommendations to friends and family. 

  1. Make them want to stick around

Dragging Gen Z shoppers away from the cosiness of their homes over the holiday period may seem like an impossible task, but it’s up to you to make them want to visit your stores. Whether it’s live-streaming events, gamified experiences, or competitions, offer them something IRL that they can’t resist. 

Ultimately, with this young generation, it’s about blending online and offline experiences. Offering them unique experiences in both locations is something they won’t be able to resist, and when combined with money-saving and social opportunities, they’ll be queuing outside your doors before opening time.

Ready to supercharge your festive marketing? Keep your eyes peeled, for our exclusive report The Ultimate Gen Z Festive Guide, jam-packed with insights only available on Voxburner. Coming soon…

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