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How Do Gen Z and Millenials Shape the 2023 Holiday Season

The 2023 holiday season is likely to be focused on Millenials and Gen Z. Therefore, if you want to make the most of it, you need to learn what they are like as online shoppers.

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Customer Success Team
November 10, 2023

Seeing that the holiday season is just around the corner, brands are trying to find new ways to engage their audience. Some will inevitably fall back to traditional holiday season marketing and see moderate success. But, if you wish to make the most of the 2023 holiday season, it is important that you adopt a more refreshed approach to marketing as a whole. In this article, we will take a closer look at Gen Z and Millenials, and which marketing trends stand to engage them most in the upcoming season.

Make the most out of the 2023 Holiday Season

To make things clear, Gen Z refers to people who are now between 11 and 26. Millennials are between 27 and 42. What makes these groups unique is that they grew up with technology, which makes them far more open to e-commerce and online marketing (in contracts to older generations). And, they are old enough and self-sufficient enough to make their own purchasing decisions (in contrast to younger generations). These two factors combined make Gen Z and Millenials a target demographic for a vast majority of brands. This is a reason why having a good understanding of them is vital for business success.

Online shopping preference

Both Gen Z and Millennials have shown a strong preference for online shopping and e-commerce. And all the stats show that this trend is likely to remain prevalent, with more consumers choosing to purchase gifts and holiday essentials online. Retailers are expected to focus on enhancing their online shopping experiences to cater to this demographic.

A couple doing online shopping in view of 2023 holiday season.
Online shopping is only going to become more prevalent as time goes by.

Mind you, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't flourish your store for in-store shopping. What it simply means is that you need to put extra effort into making your brand stand out online during the holiday season. If you wish to start, we suggest that you look into marketing storytelling, and start constructing a long-term marketing story. When done properly, such marketing can easily draw in the audience right around the holiday season.

Sustainability and ethical consumption

As a rule, Gen Z and Millennials tend to be more environmentally conscious and socially aware. They are likely to favor sustainable and ethically produced products during the holiday season. Therefore, brands that practice and promote sustainability and support social causes stand to see increased support from these generations. Now, keep in mind that simple tricks that mimic sustainability won't do you much good. Both Gen Z and Millenials do online research, especially if they are worried about sustainability and ethical consumption. And if they find a brand that promotes these values, but does nothing to follow them, they won't shy away from trying to cancel it. So, if you do plan on promoting yourself as an environment-aware brand, be sure to do so honestly.

Personalized and unique gifts

Another common trope among these generations is the appreciation of unique and personalized gift options. They are more likely to seek out personalized and customizable gifts, which can create memorable and meaningful holiday experiences. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to make use of this. Some products are more easily customizable than others, which makes them a good choice for a personalized holiday present. Others aren't as customizable but can be made so. A product can be a part of a personalized package, and thus have that unique feel to it. Or it can be a part of a limited-time, holiday season offer. Overall, it can be quite lucrative to make your products easily personalized for the upcoming season.

A person making holiday presents.
Personalized gifts will be a big trend in the 2023 holiday season.

Mind you, you shouldn't simply let your customer create a present on their own and hope for the best. Instead, you need to create an easy and intuitive way for them to create gifts. You need to look into onboarding, and how to use various elements to make their in-store journey intuitive. You should also provide various templates and showcase examples in order to job the customer's imagination. Lastly, you can incorporate a system where the user tells you the basic info about the person they wish to buy the present for, and they receive a done design.

Social media influences

Both Gen Z and Millennials are highly influenced by social media and online trends. If modern brands and marketers wish to engage their younger audience, they will have to leverage social media platforms and influencers to connect with these demographics during the holiday season. Now, it is important to mention that influencer marketing can be difficult to navigate. On the one hand, it is beneficial to rely on UGC in order to garner a decent audience. After all, an influential content creator can do wonders for your brands as a whole. But, on the other hand, having people create content for your brand does remove some control from your marketing. Ideally, you will already have a clear brand idea and a distinct brand message that social media influences can pick up upon.

Experience-oriented gifting

A bit of good news for many brands is that holiday presents no longer have to be products, per se. In fact, rather than traditional material gifts, Gen Z and Millennials often prefer experiences such as travel, concert tickets, or gift cards for experiences. This trend may lead to an increase in experience-oriented gifting during the holiday season.

A group of young people on a nature hike.
Younger people tend to put more value into experiences than into things.

Here, we would remind you about the storytelling aspect of marketing, and how well it can be used in this regard. After all, what better way to present an experience than to tell a story about it? So, if you manage to help your customers tell a story with their gift, you will go that much further in making it more memorable.

Flexibility and convenience

If there is one thing that both generations value it is convenience and flexibility. Regardless of how good your product is, or what kind of holiday deal you offer, you shouldn't expect your younger audience to suffer shopping inconveniences of any kind. In order to address this, retailers and service providers offer extended holiday hours, flexible return policies, and convenient shipping options to accommodate the preferences of Gen Z and Millennials. Offering free shipping during holidays can be a great way to draw in new customers. Providing an easy way to check, purchase, review, and return is a must.

Supporting small and local businesses

Lastly, you should keep in mind that both Gen Z and Millenials have shown a tendency to support small and local businesses. This trend may continue, with an emphasis on shopping locally and supporting independent retailers during the holiday season. This goes well with selling personalized items, as buying them from a smaller shop adds to their feel of uniqueness. If you craft products at your store, make sure to outline how long it takes for you to do so. That way, customers can order ahead of time, and have their items ready for the holiday season.

Email marketing

While there are numerous ways in which you can look to engage your audience and remind them about the upcoming season, we suggest that you rely on email marketing. Even in 2023, emails are the preferred medium for receiving messages. You can look to use direct stories in order to spruce up your emails and ensure that your audience has a good idea of what you are offering during the holiday season. Try to go above simple written content, and include as many visuals and animations as possible.

Understanding Millenials and Gen Z

What we've outlined so far should give you a decent idea of how to engage Millenials and Gen Z during the 2023 Holiday Season. Unfortunately, it would be impossible for us to outline a full marketing campaign. After all, you need to take your brand into consideration and see how it can benefit from the shopping preferences of Millenials and Gen Z. With that in mind, we will now outline a few more of their traits, which should help you to cater to their needs effectively. So, here is what to keep in mind:


When you set out to create online content, you should remember that these generations primarily use smartphones for online shopping. Therefore, mobile optimization is crucial for a seamless user experience.


Both Millenials and Gen Z are more likely to compare prices, look for discounts, and read reviews before making a purchase.

Authenticity matters

What they value most is genuine and transparent brands. Companies that align with their values and demonstrate authenticity in their online presence tend to gain their trust. But keep in mind that lost trust usually spells the end of a company.

Reviews and recommendations

While the younger generations may seem impulsive, they really aren't impulse buyers. They rely on online reviews, ratings, and recommendations from peers and influencers when making buying decisions.

Brand loyalty

Once they find a brand that they like, they usually remain loyal to it. Even while being price-conscious, Millenials and Gen Z value quality brands that manage to maintain their business standards on a certain level. So, building brand loyalty through positive online interactions is essential.

Community and social commerce

One aspect that usually goes under the radar is that young audiences value being part of online communities. They will often rely on peer recommendations within those communities, as an easy way to do research. Social commerce, where shopping happens within social media platforms, is gaining popularity.

Community written on a laptop.
Community commerce is a big part of modern online shopping.

Instant gratification

Now, we shouldn't get the idea that Millennials and Gen Z are calm and calculated. In fact, far from so. They expect quick responses to inquiries and swift issue resolution. Businesses should be responsive across various communication channels, including social media.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

An easy way to engage them is to simply use FOMO. Make limited-time offers and exclusive deals, and see your revenue increase.

Multi-channel shopping

This aspect goes back to the convenience aspect. Namely, younger shoppers often use multiple online and offline channels when making purchasing decisions. In fact, most buyers will expect that you have an app, an online store, a website, and a social media presence. And that they can seamlessly go from one to the other. Omni-channel strategies that offer a seamless transition between online and offline shopping are appealing.

Final thoughts

The 2023 holiday season shouldn't be a time of stress, but a time of creativity. So, instead of worrying whether you'll make the most of it, we recommend that you find news to engage your audience. A creative marketing strategy during the holiday season will not only see you increase your revenue but will also help you grow your brand reputation for the future. Try to think carefully about how your brand relates to the spirit of the upcoming months, and see whether you should focus on a single holiday or spread out. All in all, the less you focus on number and revenue, and the more you focus on bringing the holiday spirit to Gen Z and Millenials, the better off you'll be.

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