Between Sustainability and Consumption – How Online Shops Reach Generation Z

GenZ Personalization in Online Shops

The first generation to grow up with digitization and almost always have mobile Internet access in their pockets – we’re talking about Gen Z. Their reality has become strongly fused with the digital world, which has an impact not least on their everyday lives. Particularly when it comes to purchasing decisions, Generation Z is faced with an almost insurmountable task. Too many options and too much information are available to them every day on social media and the like. On the other hand, they have too little time to process the flood of information in peace and quiet and to evaluate the most suitable article for their needs. In addition, there is the pressure to constantly try to reconcile sustainability and consumption. We give you three tips on what is important when addressing Gen Z and how you can help them with their purchase decision in order to convert them into existing customers.

Tip 1: Personalized online store 

If there’s one thing Gen Z collectively rejects, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. With so much pressure to make decisions, a personalized offering is especially important to her. It’s also enormously volatile. Her attention span is not even one second. So product recommendations that match her interests are essential.  In addition, alternative recommendations are always important, so they don’t immediately jump off again if they don’t like the item after all or if it’s out of stock in the right size, for example. 

In addition, Gen Z places a lot of value on the opinions of friends and family. Unlike other generations, they are particularly responsive to word-of-mouth marketing. Social share options are therefore very popular with them and should definitely be available. 

Not only does the opinion of acquaintances influence Generation Z, influencers can also significantly change their decision. Influencer marketing is therefore advantageous, but the campaigns on the website must be extended – because as already mentioned, Gen Z’s time is often limited and a complicated search for the advertised product quickly leads to annoyance.

Tip 2: Clearly communicate general transparency and sustainability

There are now numerous methods for companies to improve their green footprint. This can be, for example, the elimination of free returns, a surcharge for delivery by electric vehicle, or even certificates for materials used in the products. For Gen Z, it is particularly important that these measures are not just empty promises. Therefore, clear communication about the measures taken must not be lacking under any circumstances. 

As can be easily seen, honesty, reliability and trust are very important to Generation Z. They demand complete transparency, not only with regard to the green footprint. General information about delivery or about payment methods, as well as product reviews are also crucial for a purchase. All in all, a clear brand identity with clear communication is enormously valued by Gen Z.

Tip 3: Linking brick-and-mortar retail and online shops

Although Gen Z has a strong online affinity, they also value stationary retail. Generation Z stores according to the motto “research online, purchase offline” – they use the online store for inspiration and then try on the item on site. Not least because of the competent customer service, which they particularly appreciate. Nowadays, online retailers have the opportunity to adapt this on their website. This works, for example, with chatbots or also through personal customer service for complicated concerns. 

Since they are just about to enter the workforce, the price factor plays a decisive role in their selection. Retailers should therefore offer them the opportunity to collect loyalty points (for example, via a customer card). Through the points collected online or in-store, they receive a discount and can thus save.


If retailers want to win Gen Z as regular customers, they first face the challenge of understanding their needs and using them to assist them in the purchasing process. A clear brand message, transparency and sustainability are important to Gen Z. At the same time, they don’t want to have to do without anything. Since they still value shopping in brick-and-mortar stores just as much as shopping online, it is also important to link them. If retailers take these few points into account, there is nothing standing in their way of converting Gen Z into existing customers.

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