Born in 1995 or later, Gen Z are easy to spot. They’ve never known a time without the internet, and are no doubt the most digital savvy generation with pop culture and social media at their fingertips from a young age. Falling into the 18 to mid-20s age bracket, they’re also beginning to graduate from higher education and are finding their place in the working world. This step also means that many Gen Z are leaving home to find a place of their own. And a new space of their own opens up a whole new world of interior design.
We wanted to uncover exactly what Gen Z’s spending and shopping habits are when it comes to décor. To do that, we asked them some questions about how they shop, where they look for inspiration and what’s most important to them when purchasing home décor.
We also wanted to see how Gen Z compares to previous generations. The cohort before Gen Z, Gen Y or also known as Millennials, will be in their mid-20s to late 30s. They’re more likely to already be settled in their own space, or have even found their “forever homes”. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and Gen X (1965 and 1980) who came before them, will be over 40 and probably have different attitudes to home design too.
So, let’s take a look at what we learnt from our survey.
Our key findings
Despite being digital natives, they still choose to shop in physical shops for home décor
Gen Z are more likely to impulse buy than save up for something
55% of Gen Z think it’s important to shop for sustainable pieces but, ultimately, affordability is even more important than that
Gen Z’s thriftiness means affordability is more important to them than quality
When deciding where to shop, Gen Z trusts online reviews more than brand reputation
Despite their digital native status, they still prefer to shop in physical shops for home décor
Having grown up with the internet, shopping online has always been a part of Gen Z’s life. And today, faster checkouts, multiple payment options and plans and mobile-friendly sites have made ordering online even easier than ever. But despite this, Gen Z still choose to purchase home décor instore, 64%, rather than online, 36%. This is something that they share with their older generation, with 74% of Millennials opting to shop in a physical shop over online.
Both generations also look on social media for ideas on what to buy. An external study tells us that 68% of Millennials have been influenced to buy based off of something they’ve seen on social media, and 69% of people we surveyed named Instagram as their main source of inspiration for home décor choices.
Our Gen Z respondents picked Instagram for interior inspiration over their own personal interests, 57%. This was quickly followed by the popular image-sharing platform Pinterest, 55%, and then the trending social app TikTok, 25%. These social media sites were chosen over showrooms, 23%, magazines, 14%, and brand style guides, 8%.
Based on our data, it appears that these social platforms are more popular than traditional sources of interior design inspiration. Ultimately though, while Gen Z may be pinning, scrolling and tapping for ideas on what to buy, they prefer to make the final decision to shop where they can see the product for themselves.
They might be thrifty, but they can’t resist an impulse buy
All of our research so far has led us to believe that Gen Z arefinancially sensible with a thrifty attitude to shopping for home décor.Affordability has been a common trend that beats shopping for qualityand sustainably.
Another surprise we found out about Gen Z’s shopping habits was We were surprised to learn from our survey data that 65% of them said they’d be more likely to buy something spontaneously than to save up for it. So even though they want the cheaper home décor option, they’re still prone to impulse buying instead of taking the time to find a cheaper alternative.
This is something we’ve spotted amongst the Millennial group too,with a study pointing to 64% of Gen Y being more likely to impulsebuy. The habit appears to decline as we move up the generations, with 53% of Gen X and then only 36% of Baby Boomers sharing the urge tospontaneously purchase without having researched beforehand.
The reason behind Gen Z’s urge to impulse buy home décor isn’t clear, but there could be a number of reasons. One is that browsing physical stores has become a social occasion for the younger generation. 84% of Gen Z turn shopping into a social or leisurely activity, similar to going to the cinema or visiting a restaurant. This means that they’re less likely to view it as a chore and could be persuaded by their companions to buy without planning to.
Another reason is the sheer number of places that they can shop from. There are more and more home and interior stores, especially online. Many fashion retailers are even opening up home departments as a sub-brand, making it easier for Gen Z to add a piece of interior décor or accessory to their cart when completing a clothing order. And that’s not even considering social media. Shoppable social feeds and endless promotional posts are a constant reminder of what they could be buying, and could increase the chance of impromptu orders. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the digital side of things.
When we asked them if they would be likely to spend more to receive their order faster, the results were close. 38% of them said they wouldn’t, with 36% of them saying that they would. The majority of Gen Z choosing the cheaper option isn’t surprising, but we were surprised it is interesting to see that nearly the same amount of people would actually spend more to receive their order quicker. In this instance Gen Z don’t want to wait for longer delivery, and are willing to splurge to avoid having to do so.
They support sustainable homeware but affordability is, once again, even more important than that
Now more than ever, there’s a bigger focus on sustainability and green practices. The principle of “slow-fashion” has been around for a while now, and these sustainable initiatives are being adopted by homeware retailers too. A report has estimated that the huge rise in pre-owned furniture and “buy-back” schemes will help the furniture resale industry to increase by 70% by 2025 from 2018. And it’s also becoming more common to see upcycled, recycled and organic and natural materials (hello bamboo) being used for furniture and home décor.
So how does Gen Z fit into this? Well, research has found that Millennials and Gen Z are the generations most likely to buy based on their personal values and principles. Our own survey results also reveal that 55% of Gen Z believe it’s important to shop for sustainable pieces from ethical brands.
But what about when presented with a green option and a budget option? In our survey we asked whether shopping for sustainable and ethical homeware or affordability was more important to Gen Z, and 65% chose affordability.
This tells us that even though half of our respondents believe in a greener option, at the end of the day, a cost-effective choice is even more important to them.
They’ll choose discounts over quality
In a nutshell, Gen Z are extremely thrifty. They’ll opt for something that’s discounted over something that they really want. 71% of our survey respondents said that when shopping for home décor, a discount or promotion would make them more likely to purchase something than the item itself.
Their reluctance for paying full price for items shows their financial savviness, which may be a result of the generation’s student debt or low wages. As they’re likely to have less experience in the working world and are starting at entry level jobs, their income is probably towards the lower end of the scale.
This all leads back to Gen Z’s digital know-how. They know how to find a discount and it’s almost become an expectation for each purchase. So much so that it will actually influence the thing that they’re looking to order.
So then we had to ask, affordability or quality? Affordability came out on top with 59% of Gen Z choosing it over quality, 41%. This shows that most of Gen Z are looking for the cheapest option that they can find. We did say that they’re thrifty!
When deciding where to shop. Gen Z trust people more than brands
Gen Z are cautious shoppers whose trust needs to be gained. While shopping for interior design isn’t considered to be particularly dangerous, there are always things to be wary of when completing any sort of transaction online.
From product quality and customer service to data protection and secure payment, it can be hard to judge the legitimacy of a web store that you’ve never bought from before, especially for something as big and important as furniture. In fact, only 42% of our Gen Z respondents said that they would be likely to purchase from a brand that they’d never heard of or shopped from previously.
That’s where trust comes in. Whilst Baby Boomers and Gen X stay loyal to brands that they’re familiar with, Gen Y and Z are on a continuous search for better value for money. This means that they’re more likely to scout around to find new brands and uncover the best deal they can find. Research even shows that 22% of Gen Z are more likely to unfollow a brand on social media, proving that their loyalty can easily be lost.
So when it comes to earning that loyalty, we discovered that the thing Gen Z trusts the most when buying home décor is online reviews, 46%. Brand reputation came in second at 31% and word-of-mouth recommendations fell to third place at 17%. We say fell because word-of-mouth recommendation is the key influence of purchase decisions for 82% of Millennials, showing how the two cohorts measure the authenticity of brands very differently.
Gen Z’s preference for choosing customer reviews over reputation says a lot about their trust in people over brands. If they seek transparency and honesty, it’s fellow shoppers that they want to hear it from.