Gen Z Shoppers Bring Social Commerce Into Malls

teenage girls at mall

Social media virality is beginning to shape mall stores, as ultra-connected Gen Z shoppers expect their physical lives to more closely resemble their digital ones.

For instance, young social media users have flocked to fashion brand Edikted, which has roughly 600,000 followers on both Instagram and TikTok, and has garnered more than 8 million likes across its posts. The brand will open its first in-mall location at Mall of America, the largest shopping center in the continent, according to a Wednesday (April 17) press release from the retail complex.

“Edikted has created a strong community of fashion enthusiasts and trend seekers online, and we’re excited to unite this fanbase in-person for the opening of the brand’s first Minnesota location,” Carrie Charleston, vice president of leasing at Mall of America, said in the release. “This viral digitally native brand is in tune with their audience and what is trending in the fashion world, and their fun retail space will be just as social media worthy as their clothing.”

Since launching in 2021, the brand has gained widespread attention, especially after fashion influencers like Hailey Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo and Addison Rae were seen sporting its apparel.

The brand’s move to open a mall location comes as young consumers are disproportionately likely to look for shopping inspiration via social media, according to supplemental research from “Tracking the Digital Payments Takeover: Monetizing Social Media,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Amazon Web Services collaboration.

The findings, which were drawn from a survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers, showed that 68% of Gen Z consumers searched for products on social media, and 22% ultimately completed a purchase, the highest shopping rate on social media across all generations. Additionally, 3 out of 4 Gen Z consumers said they plan to make purchases on social media, compared to less than half of the overall sample. Plus, the study reveals that over 40% of this generation prefer using Instagram or TikTok over Google to explore brands.

At the same time, these young shoppers continue to flock to brick-and-mortar malls. According to a report last year from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), “The Rise of the Gen Z Consumer,” 60% of consumers in this generation report that “even if they don’t need to purchase something specific, they visit malls just to socialize or meet friends,” and 70% report believing that “retail centers and stores have done a good job designing experiences that offer fun places for Gen Z members to enjoy together.”

Indeed, a handful of brands and retailers have been able to expand on the strength of their social media following. For example, beauty brand Glossier, known for its minimalist aesthetic, has cultivated a dedicated following through Instagram by encouraging user engagement and featuring customer testimonials.

And controversial fast fashion brand Brandy Melville gained an extensive following among Gen Z consumers, largely due to its social media presence on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The retailer’s clothing is frequently featured in influencer posts and user-generated content, driving interest in visiting its physical stores.

The former now has 11 brick-and-mortar stores and the latter nearly 100 locations around the world, with Brandy Melville having a significant presence in malls.

In an interview with PYMNTS last year, Marie-Elise Droga, head of global FinTech partnerships at Visa, discussed how social media commerce has picked up in recent years.

“COVID came and put [social commerce] on steroids,” Droga said. “There are north of 300 million individual creators out there, and they are ever global in nature. As financial institutions wake up to the opportunity, they need to treat creators as [small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)] through the lens of the financial services they develop.”