The Gen Z gifters and where to find them

two people exchanging gifts

With the festive season fast approaching, we’re taking a deep dive into the spending habits of Gen Z gifters – focusing in on what they’ll be buying, who for and when.

The Gen Z gifters are coming to town

Now that you’ve got the key trends for this year’s holiday season nailed down, we’re turning our attention to the Gen Z gifters – to ensure your brand is ready and prepared for when the student shoppers come calling.

But when can you expect them? With Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah all taking place, it’s not surprising that October-December is the time of year when the vast majority of Gen Z students buy the most gifts for other people. In fact, 82% of 16-24s said they actually start shopping for the holidays during this period, with the majority – 49% – starting in November. Of course, there’s a reason why financially-savvy Gen Zs opt to start their holiday shopping around this time of year – and that reason is Black Friday. Business student, Bailey, told us: “Cyber Week is pretty big for me because I try to actually get all my Christmas shopping done in that 1-3 day span. Come December, I can just enjoy the holidays and have everything ready.”

collection of Christmas shopping bags

For brands, placing focus on the gifting season during the Black Friday sales and the days surrounding it will certainly grab the attention of Gen Z students. With presents to buy, the fall shopping period will be the time for them to tread outside of their usual spending categories – so make sure your deals reflect this. Consider creating a gifting guide on your website or social media channels ahead of time, to allow Gen Z gifters to research and prepare for when the big sales period rolls around. 

Remember, too, that Gen Zs like to mix up their online and instore shopping around this time of year – so make sure you’re maximizing your offerings in both instances. Offering exclusive online or instore deals for students is a good place to start. 

All I want for Christmas is… 

Throughout October, November and the early weeks of December, gifts will certainly be on Gen Z’s minds, as well as their own wishlists. During last year’s Cyber Week sales, 71% of students bought for a family member, 46% bought for a friend and 27% bought for a partner. 

When buying gifts, the average US student typically spends the most dollars on their partner – with their spend averaging around $99. Otherwise, they’re likely to spend around $84 for a parent, $62 for a sibling, and $39 for a friend. 

In terms of what they’re buying, personalized items are a favorite across the student cohort – 73% said they are likely to buy in this category this year. Alyssa, who is studying for a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, told us: “I like doing gag gifts and more personalized gifts for people. Now that I’ve gotten older, and I know more about the person, I try to make the gift more meaningful.”

Candy cane heart

Health and beauty is another popular choice for Gen Zs when it comes to purchasing gifts – in fact, 64% plan to buy in this sector for gifting purposes this year. Another interesting trend making its way into the top gift ideas for 2021 is sustainability. Sustainable gifts were the third most popular choice among the students we surveyed, with 55% saying they would be buying gifts of this nature for friends and family this year. Other popular spending categories for gifting include food & drink, experiences (such as dinner coupons, tickets to a gallery or amusement park tickets) and also event tickets. 

Tis’ the season for social shopping 

As digital natives, social media is the place for holiday shopping inspiration for Gen Zs. Instagram tops the list as their favorite platform for this purpose – with 70% saying they refer to Instagram when holiday shopping. 48% and 47% use YouTube and Pinterest respectively, while 43% say TikTok is their go to platform for holiday shopping finds. 

Gen Z on their phone

For brands, utilizing these social channels is a must if you want to boost your engagement with Gen Z gifters – and turn browsers into buyers. We’ve already identified health and beauty as a top contender in the gifting category – so if you’re a beauty brand, try posting makeup tutorials, customer reviews and best products to send as gifts to help your Gen Z consumers make the right choice for their loved ones.  

Social media is also a perfect place to advertise student incentives – which 68% of students list as a top priority when shopping during the holidays. Consider working with Gen Z influencers for a product haul to get your offering in the eyes of Gen Z consumers and boost peer-to-peer interaction. Getting creative on social this holiday season is guaranteed to help you win with Gen Z. 

Want to learn more? On October 27th, we’ll be sitting down with real Gen Z college students for our exclusive panel discussion – Gift like a Gen Z: a lowdown on student holiday shopping. You don’t want to miss this – access all the details and sign up today!

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