Gen Z Loves Social Media, Most Likely To Opt In To Tracking, Tinuiti Finds

Gen Z is steadily coming of age, with growing purchasing power and interests that diverge from older generations, such as Boomers.

Tinuiti analyzed data from five different surveys that the independent performance marketing agency conducted throughout this year. The research consists of more than 5,000 multi-generational respondents to learn about what Gen Z consumers want.

One piece of data not included in the study is how performance marketing fits in. Andy Taylor, vice president of research at Tinuiti, says it depends on how you define performance like direct response or search.

“We asked folks where they will most likely make purchases, and daily essentials still typically take place in brick-and-mortar stores,” he said. “So, when it comes to performance marketing that speaks to the limitations of online attribution. If you’re in these spaces where people are still making the purchases in the stores, it’s important to have some offline tracking.”



Taylor says when consumers are in-store, they do research online on their phone across social media and other platforms including search and brand websites. In some product categories, actions taken online still lead to purchases in physical stores.

When asked to cite the most interesting theme to emerge from the data, Taylor pointed to the extent to which TikTok outpaced other platforms. It is nearly twice as influential as Instagram in terms of discovering consumer products in the category’s studies.

TikTok led across CPG product categories for Gen Z consumers, while Instagram was the second-most influential social-media platform for Gen Z product discovery, and Facebook came in third.

Taylor says the data speaks to changes in the consumer buying landscape as well as product discovery.

Gen Zers are much more likely to use TikTok than older generations, with 64% of Gen Z daily internet users saying they use it at least monthly -- by far the highest share of any generation studied. Greater use of TikTok has also instilled a greater sense of trust in the platform for Gen Zers, as 13% chose it as the social platform they most trust to protect online consumer privacy, compared to just 3% of Boomers.

Another trend reveals how much more comfortable Gen Z seems to be with online tracking and personalized messaging. This group is three times more likely to opt into tracking compared with Boomers -- and to receive more relevant ads when using online news and media sites, rather than opting out of tracking and receiving less relevant ads.

“Gen Zers are more comfortable with these relationships,” Taylor says.

Gen Z is also most likely to credit social media as the channel from which they first discover CPG products across the beauty, food and beverage sector, and over-the-counter (OTC) health categories. By comparison, Boomers were most likely to choose television across all three categories.

Within social media, influencers are a key part of how Gen Zers find new products that they later go on to purchase.

Among beauty, food and beverage categories as well as OTC health shoppers, more than three-quarters of Gen Z respondents recalled buying a product in the last year based on the recommendation of an online influencer, far outpacing other generations. 

In the case of beauty and food and beverage products, that share was more than 85%. As such, influencer marketing is a hugely important channel for reaching new Gen Z customers.

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