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What influences Gen Z path to purchase?

Gen Z shoppers show specific preferences for where they get product information.

A new survey reveals where Gen Z shoppers are turning to make buying decisions and receive customer service.

According to a study of more than 2,000 U.S. adults from Oracle and CRM Essentials, consumers, particularly Gen Z, are increasingly turning to social media influencers and online communities to form opinions, buy from brands, and get their questions answered.

While 37% of overall respondents trust social media influencers over brands; Gen Z and millennial respondents are two times more likely than boomer respondents to trust influencers. Gen Z respondents are the most likely to discover products and brands via influencers (32%), compared to 28% of overall respondents and only 13% of surveyed boomers.

In addition, 84% Gen Z respondents have purchased products in direct response to social media content, compared to only 46% of surveyed boomers. Conversely, surveyed boomers are seven times more likely than Gen Z respondents to discover new products and brands via traditional TV advertising, a product discovery medium only used by 13% of all respondents.

When it comes to following influencers, YouTube is the most popular channel overall, with 21% of respondents following influencers on YouTube. Gen Z respondents, however, favor TikTok (25%), followed closely by YouTube (23%) and Instagram (22%), Meanwhile, surveyed boomers favor Facebook (23%), YouTube (15%), and TikTok (5%).

A recent consumer survey from CM Group supports Oracle’s findings that Gen Z shoppers are more dependent on social media as an informational source than consumers from other generations. Almost half (49%) of Gen Z respondents to the CM Group survey said they obtain their news and information from YouTube, compared to 37% of millennial respondents. In addition, 23% of Gen Z respondents shared news and information on TikTok, twice that of respondents from any other generation.

Online communities are replacing traditional customer service channels
The survey also investigated trends in customer service. Notable findings include:

  • Almost all (98%) respondents find customer service interactions frustrating.
  • Only 18% of respondents want to call customer service when they have questions, including 26% of surveyed boomers and 14% of surveyed Gen Z.
  • When submitting a service inquiry to a brand, 31% of respondents would prefer to comment on a brand's social media page and 24% would prefer to direct message a brand on social media. Gen Z is two times more likely than boomers to want to receive customer service in this way.
  • More than nine in 10 (93%) respondents turn to social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok to get customer service questions answered. This includes 95% of Gen Z respondents and 7% of surveyed boomers.
  • Reasons respondents gave for trusting YouTube and TikTok videos include because they are created by other consumers (20%), easily searchable (19%), illustrative (16%), and there is a plethora to choose from (14%).

"I rebuilt my car during the pandemic all by watching YouTube videos. This is a testament to how empowered we all are to learn about anything we wish and at any time. And we do so by watching content made by people with similar interests," said Jeff Wartgow, VP, Oracle. "The powerful dynamic between user-generated content and today's social platforms is an opportunity for brands to reimagine experiences as younger generations, millennials and Gen Z, increasingly have more buying power."

The survey was fielded in January 2022 to 2,072 adults ages 18 to 80 in the U.S.

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