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Influencing Generation Z Consumers: Factors and Strategies Used by Trivago


In terms of the products, Trivago offers a search platform to its customers for hotels, allowing customers to compare prices. Trivago makes its money by charging these brands a ‘cost-per-click’ model (Bhasin 2019). Additional features on its websites includes their app, trivago hotel manager, hotel manager pro and rate connect (a business to business feature). This allows hotiliers to market their facilities on the trivago platform (Bhasin 2019). Trivago offers services such as advice calendars, hotel price and hotel rating indices (Bhasin 2019).

Z consumers were born with internet-technology and ‘being virtually connected’ (Tahngavel, Pathak and Chandra 2019). Primary research proved that generation Z consumers are conspicuous consumers who enjoy travelling as much as they love sharing their experiences online. They’ve  been described as the “photograph generation” (Haddouche and Salomone 2018). This societal need to be sharing every step we take has become a key opportunity for platforms like Trivago to gain free marketing for their brand through the art of word of mouth.

This report aims to investigate some of the factors that influence generation Z’s consumption behaviour and how companies, specifically Trivago, use this to their advantage to captivate their attention and get them to shop using their services. The main factors in which Trivago can influence its consumers to repeat purchase include:

  • Motivation
  • Perception
  • Personality

In accordance to Wright (2006), “Motivation is the process that starts with a motive or need which then drives us to fulfil this need”. Essentially, this is about understanding what drives consumers to return shopping at a certain brand and avoiding others. It stems from their needs, whether that be utilitarian or hedonic. Utilitarianism is where consumers “simply shop where’s most convenient and shop out of obligation” (Mill 1895). Their values are described as rational and concerned with “expectations of consequences” (Babin et al 1994). Hedonism is where “one must act in a manner that brings the most pleasure, to the greatest number of people for the longest time” (Veenhoven 003). Consumers who shop  hedonically choose somewhere trendy and new – somewhere where they can shop because they enjoy the process. Their consumption behaviours are recognised by their pursuit of ‘instant gratification, spending expressively or symbolically, and seeking enjoyment and fun’, thus making their consumption more about satisfying their own needs (Wang et al 2000).

Trivago wants to captivate more hedonic shoppers, ones who think their platform is an enjoyable process when booking hotels and package deals, thus, making them want to return or spread the word. They achieve this by creating new and innovative package deals of holiday activities to entice the hedonic shoppers, bringing them more pleasure. This way they won’t be bored or uninterested when on holiday. They also offer a newsletter/blog post with other consumers' experiences, captivating other consumers’ attention.


In terms of consumer needs, McClelland came up with the trio of needs (as seen in the diagram to the right). Consumers present these needs as their spontaneous and cognitive behaviours (Sheldon and Gunz 2009).

For example, a consumer in the higher section of the achievement need would be more likely to react to situations in terms of the relevance. How beneficial and the relevance to their achievement need (McClelland 1987). Customers with a high sense of achievement want to feel like they’ve done their best. When booking a holiday, these customers want to know they’ve achieved the best deal possible. Trivago is such an excellent platform for these sorts of people because essentially – that’s the main aim – to compare all prices.

If a customer has a high level of affiliation, they would perhaps be keener to use trivago for family packages or group travelling packages. Trivago offer a refined search on their platform so that consumers are able to select how many rooms, travellers and types of accommodation they are needing on order to see a selection of various rooms. This allows them to truly tailor their search to their needs. One could argue generation Z consumers may have a higher level of affiliation due to mainly wanting to travel in groups with friends for sensation-seeking experiences (Sima 2016). Their nature of being more social and adventurous, means they would most likely be interested in this – it’s about bonding and sharing an experience with those they care for.

Consumers with a high need of power want to be in control of everything. This affects their travelling habits. They prefer apartments which are self-catered so they’re able to be in charge of their own routine and details such as the food they eat and their itinerary. When searching for deals, you’re able to filter the type of accommodation, tailoring the search to your needs. This would appeal to generation z due to the environmental factor. They can ensure they are contributing to sustainability and performing eco-friendly practices which are related to their need for power.

  1. Approach- approach: when the consumer is drawn towards two positive goals
  2. Approach- avoidance: when the goal is both positive and negative qualities – consumers are both drawn toward and away from the product
  3. Avoidance-avoidance: the consequences of buying an object brings no pleasure – the consumer avoids this.

In relation to Trivago, the ‘approach-approach’ conflict would be when a consumer finds the holiday package really good and is the right price, it shows the two positives which makes it approach-approach.

If there is a holiday location that’s beautiful but expensive, or a security issue that the consumer is concerned about, this would be ‘approach-avoidance’ because there is both a positive and a negative.

Motives may conflict with each other

Lastly, if Trivago offered a holiday destination or hotel location that is bad and the price is very expensive with bad service, this would be ‘avoidance-avoidance’.

To minimise this motivational conflict, ensuring consumers always feel the ‘approach-approach’ for repeat purchases, Trivago may want to vary packages in terms of pricing and accommodation to appeal to the customer. If the consumer is drawn to their website and sees them positively as well as the end result being positive, it will satisfy and in turn, want to make a repeat purchase.

Perhaps in order to improve this motivational conflict, Trivago could make a bigger emphasis on sustainable tourism and eco friendly hotels. If they don’t do this, some consumers may have a motivational conflict of approach – avoidance. The holiday may be a positive but the fact they are contributing towards damaging the earth would be a negative. Moisander (2007) states that one of the biggest factors generation z consumers search for when travelling is whether the hotel is eco friendly and contributing towards a sustainable environment, so this is an area of research that Trivago must look into.

Psychologically, perception is the processing of information through our senses and will affect our beliefs and opinions on products or services (Mullen and Johnson 2013).

The perceptual process occurs when our physical sensations, such as eyes and nose are exposed and selected. This is then assigned to a stimulus like sight and smells (Solomon 2020) . This sensation is interpreted and creates a response which creates our perception (Solomon 2020).

The design of a product or service provided by Trivago is the key driver to attracting customers. Their service (the Trivago website) is an intangible asset, showcasing the products offered before the customer purchases. It then becomes tangible in the form of the hotel. Essentially, their service is ‘buying before trying’ so the consumer must be able to trust what they see, achievable with good visuals on their website. This will form their first impression of the company. Trivago must ensure consumers feel safe when navigating their website and making purchases. Increasing their credibility through statements and seals displayed on their site, as well as ensuring high usability and information content with an exceptional customer service can support all of this (Villa and Kuster 2011).

Being part of the generation z group, I decided to visit the Trivago website and record my experience. Please refer to Appendix 2 for screenshots of Hotel Trivago’s website. First impressions? The website is very plain, and some could argue slightly boring. However, the site itself is easy to navigate with no pop-up ads which is appealing to the gen z group. As described by Koulopoulos and Keldsen (2016), marketing tools like pop up ads are seen as interruptive to generation z consumers and like the ‘kiss of death for a company trying to reach gen z). Had I not previously known what Trivago was, the website is not very telling of the services offered. Therefore, Trivago would have to improve their website visuals in order to enhance generation z’s perception of their brand. In saying this, they mustn’t overdo the visuals, this could cause absolute sensory threshold. When this occurs, it may become overwhelming to the consumer, causing them to lose interest and not want to purchase from that company/brand (Solomon 2020). In comparison, from appendix 3, the website (Trivago’s main competitor) is much clearer in terms of showing its consumer clearly what they offer. offers more colours and visuals – creating a more appealing perception of the brand.

Semiotics are non-verbal cues and symbols which is a way to remove language barriers and is universally understood so the company is able to convey its message to a wider range of audiences (Mick 1997). Semiotics are often used in marketing to appeal to consumers when purchasing. This  makes brands distinct and unique as a way of communication (Faizan 2019). Some visual semiotics include logos, colours and advertisements such as tag lines.

Similarly, Trivago have arguably been successful with their use of semiotics in terms of their advertisement. Their advertisement with the iconic tagline, “hotel? Trivago'' is widely recognised by all, whether it be by t.v., social media, radio etc., to the point that it has become a subject of meme culture on social media platforms by generation Z users. In a way, this is a form of free advertisement for trivago through generation z. Due to it being catchy and becoming a viral meme, more people will hear about it, enticing them from curiosity to go onto their website and subsequently make a purchase because of its relatable content in a humorous manner (Gelb 1997).

In terms of Trivago’s website, they ought to use semiotics. If done correctly, the consumer will be able to distinguish the brand just by a certain visual. This could include colour schemes, sounds, perhaps even short videos. For example, their company name written in blue, yellow and red – when placing those three colours together, the company is instantly identifiable. This is how they have distinguished their brand from others. The name ‘Trivago’ itself is a clever play on words. Each group of letters is in a different colour to represent the different words. TRI stands for trip; VA stands for vacation and GO stays the same as go.

According to the Cambridge dictionary (2020), personality is defined as “the type of person you are, shown by the way you behave, feel, and think”. Companies will all distinctly have certain characteristics. These personalities mean certain consumers will identify themselves with the company based on the business’ traits according to the consumers (Ahmad and Thyagaraj 2015).

There are different ways in which consumers adopt their personalities. As stated by Paivio (1971), our cognitive system is split into two main components: a verbal system and a visual system. The verbal system has more linguistic information while the visual system processes and stores information through images or pictures (Paivio 1971). Trivago must be aware that individuals differ in the degree of how much of a visualiser or verbaliser they are. Trivago caters to these needs by using clear and bright pictures, showcasing the different hotels and locations they operate which help the visualisers, They also have a section with detailed information about each hotel which accommodates the needs of the verbalisers.

Trivago must be mindful of these different traits so they are able to provide packages and hotel deals that would appeal to consumers based on these traits. For example, they would not offer quiet and calm holiday activities to those customers who have the excitement/adrenaline seeking trait as they would not be interested in this and possibly not purchase from trivago.

One could argue Trivago can fall into all of these 5 personalities. The needs and wants of a customer will shape what type of accommodation and location they offer to consumers.

  • a religious customer choosing to visit somewhere such as the Vatican or Mecca would be seen as a ‘sincere’ personality, one of the honest and wholesome characteristic traits.
  • A holiday destination which is considered excitement would be places such as Las Vegas or Majorca and Ibiza, which could possibly attract generation Z consumers who would perhaps want an exciting holiday with friends during time off.
  • A more utilitarian consumer would be considered to have a ‘competence’ personality, where the basis of the travelling could be for conference or business purposes – the consumer is reliable and successful which is why they must travel for business purposes.
  • In terms of sophistication, this would be a customer who is more upper class and chooses to only travel to 5-star hotels, perhaps for shows or galas to countries such as France and live a life more of luxury.
  • When a customer is more rugged, they perhaps are searching for outdoor adventures or countries with more terrain so they may be looking for camping sites.

Once Trivago understands these different personality traits, they are able to offer them accordingly to ensure consumers receive a hotel they really want. If this is achieved, it means customers will share their experience with Trivago through word of mouth or even make a repeat purchase, creating loyalty between Trivago and its customer base.

Generation Z consumers would search Trivago to travel for a new experience– something they will remember for years to come, something different. They want to share and show off their experiences on social media. This shows that they possess a more excited personality trait. Trivago must remember generation Z consumers tend to be conspicuous with their consumption, as found by our primary research (Viveiros et al 2020). Their hotels and deals must be imaginative and up to date with current trends. They could offer destinations like the Caribbean or Cuba. Having a personality ensures that the brand has a certain culture and appeal to a distinct segment in their target market in order to increase sales and repeat purchases from loyal customers.

To conclude, this report’s aimed to investigate how generation Z are influenced by motivation, perception and personality. Specifically, Trivago implementing these within their operational   functions and marketing tools to attract a wider audience of consumers. In terms of motivation, generation Z consumers want exciting and innovative offers. Generation Z consumers are those born between 1997 to 2012 and an extremely tech savvy generation, therefore, Trivago must be able to develop different packages for them as their consumer tastes have shifted in comparison to millennials and boomers. With perception, trivago must use semiotics to truly differentiate their key aspects to the consumer. Generation Z consumers dislike pop up ads. Trivago must ensure they are correctly marketing themselves to them to improve the customer perception on the company and eventually repeat purchase. Lastly, essentially, the customer forms the personality that Trivago presents. The demand of different packages people wish to buy is based on their own personality. Generation Z consumers present an ‘excited’ personality. They want daring and imaginative holiday destinations. Trivago must research destinations to satisfy their needs.

  1. With regards to recommendations for Trivago, firstly, they must improve their website. It is very plain, making it boring – not eye catching enough for the consumer especially those who are visualisers, it may put them off.
  2. Secondly, in comparison to its main competitor,, Trivago may want to broaden their offers – more than just hotels and accommodation. offer car rentals and transfers from the airport to the hotel as well as flight and hotel combos. Must find a way to offer more innovative services to attract more generation Z customers to have a unique selling point over their competitors.
  3. Lastly, pricing techniques to entice generation Z – majority of generation Z consumers are students – perhaps they could consider a student discount? Or loyalty schemes to encourage repeat purchases with them? This could give them a competitive advantage over their competitors as they do not offer as many services as they do.

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