TikTok and Instagram Are at the Heart of Gen Z’s Shopping Habits

Shopping, online shopping Gen Z, KPMG report, Asia Pacific

Gen Z shopping habits are shaped, in no small part, by TikTok and Instagram ads and influencers, a KPMG report finds.

  • The report, which focused mainly on the Asia-Pacific region, explained that Gen Z talks with its money.
  • However, in an online world where everyone is selling you something, it becomes quite difficult to determine a genuine review from a manufactured lie.

A KPMG report showed how Gen Z shopping habits are heavily driven by TikTok and Instagram, where everyone is trying to sell you something.

Today marks 83 years since the first official paid television advertisement aired in the U.S., a Bulova watches ad. For years after that, TV had been THE method to advertise all products—within the restrictions of regulatory bodies, of course. Television stations would block spaces for advertisers before, during, and after shows. The more popular a show was—based on viewership, the more expensive its advertising spot became.

However, with the Internet, the advertising landscape has pivoted toward online ads, be it spots on websites or ads starring influencers on social media platforms. And while the medium has changed, the outcome—influencing viewers’ shopping habits—is still the same.

Some may argue that it’s even more successful now since everyone is trying to sell you something, from protein powders to swimsuits. So much so that it has become difficult to decipher what’s authentic and what’s just another money grab.

Shopping Habits of the Digital Native

Gen Z are the people born between 1997 and 2012. Unlike their predecessors, the Millennials, who were introduced to technology as it developed, Gen Zs are the first generation to have grown up in the digital age, hence the “digital native” signifiers. As a result, Gen Z’s innate familiarity and comfort with digital technology have shaped the generation’s online shopping habits.

70,000 consumers across 14 markets in the Asia-Pacific region participated in a KPMG survey, one of the Big Four accounting firms. About half of them in each market are Gen Z. The report, titled “Navigating the future of seamless commerce in Asia Pacific,” found that Gen Z’s different attitudes toward lifestyles and priorities have skewed shopping habits. For example, 86% are more likely to support brands with clear sustainability commitments. And 79% buy into brands that align with their values.

Irwan Djaja, partner and head of advisory at KPMG in Indonesia, explained that Gen Zers are “seekers of experiences over products” and that “authenticity is their currency.”

The report explains how 57% prefer live-streaming commerce, where brands sell to online audiences in real-time, while 63% choose social commerce, where brands market their products through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. These types of commerce often feature celebrities and influencers.

In turn, this preference has forced brands to reassess their strategies to reach and convince the digital native generation to buy what they have to offer. A TV commercial or an ad on a website just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Everything’s an Ad, even if You Don’t Know It

Because these companies need to cater to Gen Z’s shopping habits, they tend to pay every influencer and celebrity they can to promote their products. Do you remember that time when every single YouTube video was sponsored by Raid Shadow Legend or Function of Beauty? You really couldn’t escape.

Sometimes a brand will also pay several influencers, whether they disclose it or not, in the same niche to promote a product. This is great for the influencers–money—and the brands—exposure—but a nightmare for consumers. If everyone is saying the same thing about the same product, how are you supposed to know if the product is genuinely good or just another cash grab?

Final Thoughts

Of the generations that have money to spend, Gen Z is the one whose shopping habits are heavily influenced by TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms. With everyone they encounter trying to sell you something from their TikTok Shop or their Amazon Storefront, shopping has become much more complicated for Gen Zers. Did the older generations get scammed sometimes? Absolutely. But with Gen Z, they realize that their money talks, and it has become increasingly difficult to have it say the right things.

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