Get ready for Black Friday 2021

person holding a 50% off sale tag

Here, we highlight four themes that all brands need to be aware of ahead of Black Friday 2021 – especially when it comes to Gen Z.

Brands, it’s that time again – time to start thinking about Cyber Week.

Encompassing Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the transaction-fuelled days surrounding them, this week-long shopping event has reached stratospheric heights in recent years.

This year, Gen Zs’ post-covid pent-up demand and ‘treat yourself’ mentality will be influential in their spending power. With savings to spend, gifts to buy, and luxury purchases to be made, we’ve no doubt that Gen Z will be retail ready – the question is, will you be? 

We’re here to guide you through – with a round-up of key themes for the fall shopping period according to Gen Z students. Let’s get started.

Tis’ the season for Gifting

Did you know most students actually kick off their holiday shopping early? By the end of November, 95% of male students and 83% of female students have started shopping for the holidays. This makes Black Friday a pivotal moment for Gen Z gifters.

During last year’s Black Friday sales, 71% of Gen Z bought for family members, with 46% picking something up for a friend and 27% treating a partner. With so many students on the lookout for holiday gifts for their loved ones, the fall shopping period is the time when they’re likely to tread outside of their usual spending categories.

“Cyber Week is pretty big for me because I try to actually get all my Christmas shopping done in that 1-3 days span. Come December, I can just enjoy the holidays and have everything ready.” – Bailey, Business Major from California

For those approaching Black Friday with gifting in mind, personalized gifts will be high on their radar – 73% of 16-24s are likely to buy personalized gifts this year and 44% list gifts with personalization as a top priority when shopping during Cyber Week.

The retail experience

After a year like 2020, the retail experience as we know it is certain to change to incorporate the physical with the digital – to nurture new habits formed during the pandemic.

They might be digital natives, but 62% of students prefer to mix up their online and in-store shopping during Black Friday – so brands with an online or instore presence will need to step up their game this year to stand out. Be sure to get active on social media, and try incorporating real-life reviews or AR technology onto your site. For high street retailers, now is your time to get digital – try LED lights, tablets, QR codes, Instagram lives – there’s plenty of scope to get creative.

Luxury purchases

Retail events like Cyber Monday and Black Friday are a go-to for young consumers looking to purchase high ticket items – in fact, more than a third of students list saving money on luxury items as a top priority when shopping during this season. With the average college student having a disposable income of around 60% to spend on discretionary items, and with Black Friday falling at the end of the month, students will be gearing up for a post-payday shopping spree to bag themselves a deal on high-value items like tech, entertainment and travel. Brands in this sector should be building a buzz around their offering ahead of time to get Gen Z consumers excited.

“Around Black Friday, I’m looking for the expensive brands that I know that I can’t afford year round. That’s when I act like a queen!” – Julz, chemical engineering student from New Jersey


Since the pandemic, young consumers have become even more concerned about climate change and making sustainable choices – which in turn impacts their purchasing power.

When making purchases during the fall and winter months, 44% of Gen Zs list sustainability as a top priority, and 55% will be looking for sustainable gifts to buy this year. Remember, this consumer cohort likes to research in advance, not only to secure the best deals, but to make sure they are spending mindfully on something they really want or need. Social media is a great way to highlight your brand’s sustainability efforts to Gen Z digital natives – or indeed any support for a good cause.

Stay tuned for our brand new Cyber Week guide launching in September! In the meantime, why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more regular and topical Gen Z insights.

Gen Z and the Future of Ecommerce

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