What are American teenagers’ top picks in apparel, gadgets, food, and beyond? We’ve got your rundown on Gen Z trends across a ton of industries and brand categories.
What are the young folk into? I’m asking because I don’t know. I really don’t. Do they watch things? Do they eat stuff, or do they respire through photosynthesis? Have they invented a dance-based meta-language that will one day replace our own? Seriously, I need a hand here.
So, you can imagine the intense, quasi-seismic sigh of relief that bellowed forth from the depths of my third chakra — that’s a thing, right? — when I learned that there is indeed a cornucopia of market research we can call upon to understand how Gen Z teenagers spend their money, as well as the brands across industries like fashion, apparel, accessories, beauty, and media that most frequently win their favor.
Are you ready to take the plunge? Whether you feel kinship with teen America or shudder at the very mention of “rizz,” prepare to feel all sorts of ways.
Based on survey data published by investment bank Piper Sandler, using over 9,000 responses from teenagers in 49 US states, here’s the latest on Gen Z trends shaping consumer habits in 2023.
Gen Z Trends: Favorite Brands
Data via Piper Sandler’s 46th Semi-Annual “Taking Stock With Teens” Survey for Fall 2023.
|Smartphone||Apple iPhone (87%)||N/A|
|Footwear||Nike (61%)||Converse (9%)|
|Clothing||Nike (35%)||lululemon (6%)|
|Social media app||TikTok (38%)||Snapchat (28%)|
|Streaming platform||Netflix (29.1%)||YouTube (28.7%)|
|Shopping site||Amazon (55%)||SHEIN (12%)|
|Money transfer app||Cash App (50%)||Venmo (36%)|
|Handbag||Coach (19%)||Louis Vuitton (11%)|
|Restaurant||Chick-fil-A (16%)||Starbucks (13%)|
|Energy Drink||Monster (28%)||Red Bull (23%)|
|Skincare||CeraVe (37%)||The Ordinary (9%)|
|Haircare||Olaplex (8%)||SheaMoisture (6%)|
|Beauty retailer||Sephora (37%)||Ulta (32%)|
|Cosmetics||e.l.f. (29%)||Rare Beauty (13%)|
More Gen Z Consumer Takeaways
- Upper-income males contributed to the largest year-over-year increase in teenagers’ spending at 11%.
- Spending by female teenagers was down 8% over the same period, though spending on accessories increased by 8%.
- Upper-income male teens reported spending 25% of their money on food.
- Clothing accounted for 28% of female teen spending, the largest individual share by category. That number is down from 30% one year ago.
- Video games make up 11% of male teen spending, down slightly from 12% one year ago, with 33% reporting that they plan to purchase a current-generation video game console (PlayStation 5, Xbox X/S, etc.) within the next two years.
- Beauty-related spending checks in at $324 per year on average, with cosmetics experiencing a 33% year-over-year increase to $127 per year.
- While teens prefer Cash App for peer-to-peer money transfers, Apple Pay (42%) outpaces Cash App (27%) for retail payments.
- Teens’ use of VR devices fell from about 14% to about 10% in Spring 2023, but ownership of VR devices increased from 29% to 31% among teens over the same period.
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