17-Year-Olds Are Making the Big Shopping Decisions This Holiday Season

teens shopping
The purchase decisions of teen shoppers are highly impacted by feedback from their peers on social media.
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Move over, millennials, there’s a new generational cohort making retail waves.

Ahead of 2016 holiday shopping season, HRC Advisory surveyed 3,100 people in the U.S. and Canada on their shopping habits, attitudes and the influences driving their purchasing decisions. The results, according to the retail consulting firm, show that 10- to 17-year -olds — Generation Z — are quickly becoming the most influential group in retail.

“Generation Z has significant influence over household purchases,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. “Retailers must appreciate the different expectations and habits of this group, as well as of millennial parents with kids, and develop and execute strategies that address their needs to stay competitive with this increasingly important consumer segment.”

While the millennial cohort has been probed and prodded for some time, many retailers are still trying to get a handle on the habits of the up-and-coming Gen Z cohort. Retailers may want to move quickly, though, because these new younger shoppers have vastly different expectations of how they want to interact with retailers, according to HRC.

Here are four things HRC’s latest study has revealed:

The Truth About Malls
Malls are still very popular. In fact, contrary to popular belief, they are particularly popular among Generation Z shoppers. While over 60 percent of survey respondents said they visit a mall or shopping center at least once a month, 72 percent of Generation Z respondents and millennial parents with kids say they do so. Gen Z just shops malls differently: they go to the mall with a specific mission and in search of specific items. Generation Z shoppers also spend more time at the mall and they visit more stores: 22 percent of frequent Gen Z mall visitors say their typical trip  is more than 90 minutes and that they visit, on average, four to five stores.

Save the Mega-Star Endorsements
Gen Z shoppers tend not to be strongly influenced by celebrity endorsements by athletes, actors and singers, according to the study. However, over 61 percent of their purchase decisions are strongly influenced by friends, with 13 percent being influenced by bloggers.

Gift Cards Welcome
Among all study respondents with a preference, 62 percent would rather receive a gift card than an actual gift. Among Gen Z shoppers, this number is even higher — 69 percent. According to HRC, this further proves the cohort’s desire to make their own purchase decisions.

Social Butterflies
The influence of and engagement with social media in purchasing decisions cannot be overstated, says HRC. Roughly 50 percent of millennial and Generation Z shoppers surveyed use social media while they shop. Of their social media time, most is spent on Facebook (61 percent), followed by YouTube (38 percent) and Instagram (24 percent).