The battle for Generation Z picks up steam
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The battle for Generation Z picks up steam

Generation Z is now the biggest generational cohort in America, with over a million more members than the Millennial generation. These ‘Boomlets’ range in age, but the oldest amongst them are now teens or just starting their twenties. Although not yet at full spending power, they are still a market force, influencing not just their own and their peers’ spending, but family budgets too. And, as they age, they will become a force even more central to businesses than the Millennials are today. For that reason, it makes sense for brands to catch their attention and loyalty now.

Hot on the heels of a similar study by Google (see here), research firm Piper Jaffray have conducted an investigation into what American teens think is ‘hot’, and what’s ‘not’. The survey included 5500 teens with an average age of 16, was countrywide, and included questions on “fashion, food, media, and more.”

Foodwise, teens are less interested in full-service restaurants than their predecessors. Like MIllennials, they favour Starbucks (second place this year, but overwhelmingly popular with teens in general: over the last 14 surveys, the brand has come out on top 12 times).

The trend towards “athleisure” also remained strong amongst teens, with Nike being the most popular brand by a wide margin amongst both genders. Competitor Adidas was unable to oust Nike, but was notable nonetheless for its massive gain in popularity: the brand jumped up to fifth place from tenth last year. And, while Adidas is making inroads replacing Nike as the top “new brand” worn by males, other companies are sinking: Under Armour didn’t make the top 10, and wasn’t named as a favourite brand by even one ‘upper income female’.

For handbags, Michael Kors is still the brand to beat, although Coach is catching up.

Another interesting discovery from the survey was the increasing interest teens have in Ecommerce. While it is obviously true that Generation Z is the most tech-literate cohort to have ever lived, it is also true that they have shown a preference for brick-and-mortar retail. In short, Boomlets like to go out with friends to the mall. This year, however, online-only retailers logged a massive win this year, hitting their peak preference at 17%.

Amazon, unsurprisingly, is overwhelmingly the winner, taking 43% of the votes for ‘most popular’. It is highly possible that Amazon’s family-friendly Prime offering may have been the Ecommerce titan’s route into this coveted spot.  


Every company named in this article, with the exception of Under Armour, is held in Dominion’s Global Trends range of Funds.

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