Decoding Gen Z’s Unique BFCM Shopping Preferences

How does Gen Z want to be marketed to during Black Friday Cyber Monday? We’re answering that and more—based on 2023 BFCM Consumer Trends Report data.

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Black Friday Cyber Monday is evolving, and we have a new generation to thank for it. Enter Gen Z.

We’re just kidding. No Gen Z bashing around here. After all, they’re the U.S.’s second-largest generation (second only to Millennials—depending on who you ask).

While many Gen Zers are still pre-teens (born between 1997 and 2012, depending on who you ask), some are at the age of 26 years old. That makes many of them well into adulthood, currently representing the smallest adult population.

Gen Z is emerging as a purchasing powerhouse, and it will only continue to grow as more and more age into adulthood. While they’re still a new and emerging generation, now’s the time to develop winning strategies for current and future success.

Since they’re so young, we’re still getting to know them as consumers. We recently surveyed 1,117 consumers in the U.S. and put it all together in our 2023 BFCM Consumer Trends Report. But now, we’re pulling out Gen Z and comparing them to other generations to see what makes them tick—and how they’ll change the future of holiday shopping.

Let’s get to know Gen Zers with a deeper look into their BFCM shopping habits, along with tips on how to vibe their digital-native proclivities.

How are Gen Zers shopping this BFCM?

Gen Z shoppers said they plan on doing 63% of their holiday shopping online and 40% in-store. Surprisingly, the tech-native generation plans to do more of their shopping in-store than other generations. Yet, when making online purchases, 67% plan to do so in mobile shopping apps.

While Gen Z has an affinity for mobile shopping experiences, they’re also highly adaptable. Unlike Millennials (who’re often averse to in-person experiences), Gen Z is willing to shop in whichever way works best for them at the time. 

Since Gen Z is more channel/platform agnostic, you need a little extra planning to reach them. Take a deeper look at omnichannel ad strategies for BFCM here.

Gen Z has all the feels about BFCM—and here’s what you can do about it

Gen Zers are also the most excited about BFCM shopping. At 44%, their generation said they were excited “to a large extent” at the highest rate—the lowest being Baby Boomers at 39%. Yet, they also feel the most stressed, with 18% saying BFCM makes them feel stressed to a large extent.

Is it FOMO, budget woes, or the sheer number of options available that’s giving Gen Z these mixed emotions? Whatever the case, tailor your marketing messages around this duality. 

Capitalize on their anticipation with promotions, like:

  • Exclusive sneak peeks to enhance the feeling of inclusivity and reduce FOMO-induced stressed
  • Social media countdowns leading to BFCM with daily showcases of top deals so they can plan ahead
  • Flexible payment options like buy now pay later (BNPL) to lessen financial stress

What’s in their shopping cart?

In the report, we noted a clear correlation between generations and who they’re shopping for. Younger generations—particularly Gen Z—were more likely to shop for themselves than older generations. Gen Z respondents said 38% of their holiday season purchases will be for themselves, while only 25% of Boomers said the same. Segment your messaging to target Gen Zers with ‘treat yo self’ encouragement.

The Gen Z cohort also reported they make BFCM impulse purchases 29% of the time, compared to 20% of Boomers reporting the same. Gen Z weren’t the highest impulse buyers—that title goes toward Millennials. It could be because of Millennials’ higher discretionary spending or a general lack of impulse control (heh, we’ll never know).

What’s the biggest takeaway from this data? There are different motivations driving Gen Z’s BFCM purchases than older generations. Gen Zers are likely waiting for sales before buying large items for themselves since they’re in an earlier stage of their careers. 

For e-tailers, shape your BFCM marketing messages around these insights. Segment your audience by age, and lean into more personalized marketing for Gen Z shoppers. You could even consider a 60/40 split between advertising shopping for gifts and shopping for themselves. 

There are also a few things you can do to encourage impulse buying across all generations. Consider implementing:

  • One-click checkout
  • Flexible return policies
  • Free or reduced shipping

How does Gen Z feel about ads?

Nailing the best strategy to reach and engage with Gen Z is imperative to business success. Advertising to Gen Z is an entirely different animal than older generations—and our survey data really backs that up. Besides posting viral TikTok trends, here are some tactics to be aware of this BFCM when it comes to ads.

Gen Z is particularly sensitive to getting the wrong advertising messages at the wrong time. Even though they’re digital natives, they expect a lot from advertisers. If a message doesn’t resonate with them or seems out of left field, they’re gone.

As a result, they’re much more likely to unsubscribe to emails during BFCM. While only 17% of consumers are more likely to ditch your email list, 24% of Gen Z said the same. 

Gen Z is also more sensitive to message frequency. Three out of four Gen Zers say “getting too many messages” during BFCM would make them unsubscribe, while only 62% of Millennials, 60% of Gen X, and 57% of Boomers said the same.

Since email is a primary driver of BFCM marketing, how do you engage Gen Z without alienating them? You might have to pull back on frequency.

Find the balance between too many emails and too few

Okay, that’s an oversimplification of an entire industry’s purpose (👋 Hi, email marketers). The point is that BFCM is a time of high-volume emails, but you can’t treat all your customers the same and expect the same results.

Segment by age and send fewer and more personalized messages to the Gen Z cohort. Then, you’re still celebrating BFCM sales and getting traffic, but you’re doing it without losing a bunch of subscribers. You can take that tip into BFCM and beyond.

Use other methods of communication

Email is the tried-and-true standard of BFCM advertising, but many online retailers have found major success using other methods of customer communications to grow their community—specifically, SMS and push notifications.

Supplement brand Obvi, for example, built their app with Tapcart and has since effectively used push notifications to increase revenue and connect with their younger customers. Obvi's app helps the brand build community and reach long-term loyalty goals through education and engagement. That’s precisely why Obvi houses so much content on the app, including popular blogs and its beloved recipes. Obvi relies on “FOMO” and “app exclusivity” to encourage app downloads and transform regular customers from email, paid advertising lists, or its online communities into avid app users. 

“We started to realize that the app isn't just a gateway for people to buy quickly. It's also to completely consume the brand on a much more formal level post-purchase. Push notifications are the strongest weapon in our arsenal”

Ron Shah, CEO & Co-founder of

Tap into Gen Z for big BFCM results

Marketing to Gen Z is different to other generations because they're so tech-savvy. These consumers expect meaningful engagement, personalized experience, and interactive content. They're also more likely to be skeptical of traditional ads (preferring authenticity) and care about a company's values.

For more Gen Z data and other generational insights into this year’s BFCM, grab our full report: 2023 BFCM Consumer Trends Report.

Ready to dive into a mobile app all your own? Book a walkthrough with a mobile expert today, and we’ll launch your own shopping app ahead of the holiday season.

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