Gen Z is also far more open to searching social media for product information while shopping in stores, far more accepting of online tracking and personalized ads and less concerned about online privacy risks than their boomer elders, according to the study. Tinuiti bases its findings on five surveys covering more than 5,000 multi-generational respondents.
Gen Z favors social media over TV for CPG purchases and accepts personalized ads more than other groups
Nearly two-thirds of Gen Z beauty shoppers reported seeing or hearing about a new beauty product on social media that they later went on to purchase, with more than half reporting doing so in food and beverage and nearly half in over-the-counter health.
That was more than double the proportion of Gen Z shoppers who reported buying a new beauty product after hearing about it on TV, though the Gen Z advantage for social over TV was smaller in food, beverage and OTC purchases.
In each category, however, the number was nearly a mirror opposite compared to boomers, who overwhelmingly discover new CPG products on TV over social media. For boomers, TV beat social in all three broad categories, with a particular edge in food, beverage and OTC.
While social was stronger than TV overall for Gen Z, TikTok especially stood out among its peers. Almost twice as many Gen Z shoppers (34% vs. 18%) learned about new products they bought on TikTok vs. Instagram, and more than three times as many on TikTok as Facebook.
TV, for the purposes of this study, included ad-supported connected TV or streaming, said Andy Taylor, VP of research at Tinuiti. But while Gen Z is heavy with cord-cutters and streaming services, the use of ad-supported CTV hasn’t reached the point to lift TV’s sway with the generation yet, Taylor said.
The power of social media marketing for Gen Z is on one hand obvious for anyone watching the evolution of media, but the extent to which it’s powering new product purchases in packaged goods still came as a surprise to Taylor.
“We definitely going in thought social media would be a bigger player with Gen Z than with older generations,” Taylor said. “But the extent to which it outpaced things like television in terms of product discovery was pretty remarkable. And then drilling further down to things like in-store research, with Gen Z being far more likely to turn to social media when researching products in store, or being more likely to want personalized messaging in social media, it just stood out.”
The power of social media for Gen Z doesn't necessarily mean buying media there to reach them, Taylor said, as the survey also found 85% of the generation's respondents said they've bought CPG products in the past year on the recommendation of online influencers, well ahead of other age groups.
Overall, 43% of Gen Z respondents said they’ve used Google to search for information about new products while shopping in stores, vs. 32% who said they’ve done the same with social media searches. Of boomers, 36% said they’ve used Google but only 7% social media searches while shopping in stores.
In terms of the retailers where Gen Z starts searches for CPG products, Walmart beat Amazon and Target, particularly in food and beverage categories, Taylor said. Boomers, however, were more likely to start CPG product searches on Amazon than Walmart.
Related: A guide to Gen Z marketing
The survey also found Gen Z more open to online tracking in order to receive relevant ads and less concerned about privacy than boomers. A majority of both groups said they would prefer to opt out of tracking and receive less relevant ads. But nearly 40% of Gen Z said they were open to tracking for more relevant ads vs. only about 10% of boomers. Gen Z was also far less likely than boomers to regularly clear browser cookies or use ad blockers to protect their privacy, though more likely to use virtual private networks.
Gen Z was the most likely of any group to have joined CPG-related loyalty programs to offset inflation, but what they’re looking for from loyalty programs tends to differ. They’re slightly less into everyday discounts and more likely than other age groups to be swayed by the chance to win large prizes.
All the data adds up to a need for marketers to think about marketing to Gen Z differently than other groups on many levels, Taylor said.
“Privacy measures are going to inhibit this in some places, but many in Gen Z really are desiring tailored messages,” he said, “so it’s going to help your brand to be as relevant as possible for younger users.”