The millennials may have the older generations shaking their heads, but their successors, Generation Z, are those who have fully breached the divide between the pre- and boom. Generation Z are the children who have grown up entirely familiar with electronic gadgets, the Internet, smartphones, and tablets, and they’re now entering their adolescent years. They’re used to documenting their lives online, and that is changing the way commerce works.

Lives Lived Online

Teenagers nowadays have an online presence that is as much as, if not more than, their real-life presence. How many teenagers do you know who’ve had Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter accounts before they even hit adolescence? How many of you know mere toddlers who are already masters of the tablet and the smartphone? There’s probably quite a number of you in this decade. They’re the most viewed, most tech-savvy generation, and their sharing habits are affecting the brick-and-mortar world.

What is Teen-Driven E-Commerce?

Teen-driven e-commerce means, basically, businesses conducted online whose main target market are teenagers, an age range that is currently most associated with Generation Z. E-commerce may have risen during the boom between 1995-2001, around the time the earliest Generation Zs were babies, but now, a little over a decade later, Generation Zs seem to be growing into the major trend-setters and users of e-commerce.

Generation Z teenagers grew up in a world where information is fast, fleeting, and plentiful, and this has influenced their consumption habits. Teens look for things that are novel that they can show off their friends. Brick and mortar shops don’t change fashion as fast or as numerous as e-commerce shops, so that’s where they go. In fact, e-commerce sales are growing, while brick-and-mortar retail targeting teens have seen under-performance in 13 of the past 16 quarters, according to Retail Metrics.
The fact that most of Generation Z still has access to their parents’ coffers probably helps drive sales, too.

Why E-Commerce?

Besides offering you the chance to tap into a financially-fearless, online-conscious target market, e-commerce also gives you the chance to test the waters with relatively low start-up capital. Forget worrying about generating enough sales to just cover rental costs; all you need is a domain name (or perhaps not even that!) and you’re pretty much set, depending on what you’re intending to sell. You don’t even need to keep large amounts of stock in stand-by, since you can simply take down from your website what you don’t have, or make it available for pre-order.

Also, what’s not to like about the ability to control your business from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, even when you’re lounging in bed all day?

How to Tap into Teen-Driven E-Commerce

Not all business types are suited to target teens. Fashion is one industry that can and does change fast enough to keep up with their fast-changing minds. Or if you have a novel pitch or a new spin on something typical that you think teens would like, by all means, go ahead. Paid online advertisements can work, but the most effective method remains by word of mouth: if you can get a few high-exposure teen Instagrammers or bloggers, you’ll reach your audience much more accurately.


As Generation Z teens are set to enter the working world in a few years with earning power and e-commerce mastery under their belts in a few short years, it may be a good idea to tap into the market now before it matures. What do you think?

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