“Life was already stressful for Gen Z, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will only amplify the stress and uncertainty that teens and young adults face. As they learn to define themselves as individuals and embark on new lives as independent adults, disruptions to high school and postsecondary education and a bleak job market will define this generation and who they become as adult consumers.”
– Kristen Boesel, Senior Lifestyles Analyst

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z consumer behavior
  • Recessionary impact on Gen Z attitudes and financial situations
  • Teen spending habits
  • Sources of emotional support for young adults

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
        • Executive Summary

            • Market overview
              • Top takeaways
                • Impact of COVID-19 on Generation Z
                  • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on Generation Z, May 2020
                • Opportunities: What Gen Z consumers want
                  • Help them learn how to be adults
                    • Give them ways to feel in control
                      • Give them ways to decompress
                        • Find new avenues to reach them
                          • Figure 2: Gen Z adults’ methods for relieving stress, by gender, February 2020
                        • What it means
                        • Impact of COVID-19 on Generation Z

                          • What you need to know
                            • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on Generation Z, May 2020
                          • Opportunities and Threats
                            • Threats
                              • Figure 4: Share of adults worried about exposure to the coronavirus, March-May 2020
                            • Opportunities
                                • Figure 5: Share of adults who visit TikTok multiple times per day, January-April 2020
                              • Mintel’s Global Consumer Trend Drivers
                                • Figure 6: Mintel Trend Drivers
                              • Brands help shape Experiences in the era of social distance
                                • Netflix responds to Gen Z’s interest in psychological Wellbeing
                                  • Brands have a chance to inform Generation Z’s perception of Rights
                                    • Figure 7: Attitude toward self-reliance vs asking for help, by generation, February 2020
                                    • Figure 8: Entities that teens trust, February 2020
                                    • Figure 9: Agreement that one vote can make a difference, by generation, February 2020
                                    • Figure 10: Gen Z adults’ political views, indexed against total adults, February 2020
                                  • How the COVID-19 crisis will affect Generation Z
                                    • School’s out for… ever?
                                      • Gen Z won’t leave the nest any time soon
                                        • Figure 11: Age distribution of Gen Z adults’ parents, February 2019
                                      • How a COVID-19 recession will reshape Generation Z
                                        • The job market is bleak for teens and young adults
                                          • Figure 12: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-April 2020
                                          • Figure 13: Birth rates by age of mother, 2010-17
                                        • COVID-19: US context
                                        • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                          • A cultural gulf divides two generations
                                            • TikTok’s time is now
                                              • Fortnite is the future
                                              • What’s Working

                                                • Chipotle finds a recipe for success on TikTok
                                                    • Figure 14: Chipotle’s TikTok profile, May 2020
                                                  • Mintel Trend The Next Genderation
                                                    • Euphoria’s Phluid Project pop-ups
                                                      • Colleges and universities acknowledge students’ self-identified genders
                                                        • Billie Eilish’s mainstream acclaim
                                                        • What’s Struggling

                                                          • Baby Boomers and Generation Z struggle to see eye to eye
                                                            • Digital natives do not respond well to tech-related moralizing
                                                              • Figure 15: Natural Light tweet in response to Miller Lite, November 2019
                                                              • Figure 16: Get Real | HP, October 2019
                                                            • Brands and the “OK Boomer” bandwagon
                                                              • Figure 17: “OK Boomer” mentions on Instagram and Twitter in the US, October 2019-February 2020
                                                            • Cries for action against climate change heard, but not heeded
                                                              • Safety concerns may reduce vaping popularity
                                                              • What’s Next

                                                                • TikTok won’t be cool forever
                                                                  • Gaming platforms are the future of social interaction
                                                                    • Fortnite will be the new public sphere
                                                                      • levels the playing field for adults
                                                                      • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                                        • More than 55 million members of Gen Z, but they’re not all adults yet
                                                                          • This generation still relies heavily on their parents
                                                                            • Most teens spend on food and clothes, but that may change
                                                                              • Gen Z adult households earn the least
                                                                                • Overall, Gen Z adults oppose the idea of debt
                                                                                • Gen Z Demographics

                                                                                  • Almost 56 million Americans are part of Generation Z
                                                                                    • Figure 18: US population, by generation, 2020
                                                                                  • In five years all members of Generation Z will be adults
                                                                                    • Figure 19: Gen Z population projections, 2020-2025
                                                                                  • About a quarter of Gen Z is Hispanic
                                                                                    • Figure 20: Generations, by race, 2019
                                                                                    • Figure 21: Generations, by race and Hispanic origin, 2019
                                                                                • Gen Z Families and Households

                                                                                  • Marriage and parenthood are still far down the road
                                                                                    • Figure 22: Percent childless women aged 15-19 and 20-24, selected years 1976-2018
                                                                                  • Just under a quarter of Gen Z adults are homeowners
                                                                                    • Figure 23: Homeownership rate, by age of householder, 2018
                                                                                  • At least half of Gen Z adults live with their own parents
                                                                                    • Figure 24: Percent of young adults living in parental home, by age and gender, 2008 and 2018
                                                                                  • Very few Gen Z adults live with spouses or their own children
                                                                                    • Figure 25: Distribution of households, by age of householder and type of household, 2018
                                                                                • Teen Spending

                                                                                  • Teens depend on parents for spending money
                                                                                    • Figure 26: Teens’ sources of income, February 2019
                                                                                  • COVID-19 regulations will impact teen spending
                                                                                    • Figure 27: Teen spending categories, February 2019
                                                                                  • Gendered spending differences
                                                                                    • Figure 28: Teen spending categories, by gender, February 2019
                                                                                • Gen Z Adult Spending

                                                                                  • Gen Z adults have lower income relative to other Americans
                                                                                    • Figure 29: Mean earnings of full-time, year-round workers aged 18+, 2018
                                                                                  • Education leads to higher earnings… eventually
                                                                                    • Figure 30: Number of adults aged 18-24 reporting full-time earnings, 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 31: Mean earnings of full-time, year-round workers aged 18-24, 2018
                                                                                  • Half of Gen Z adults save any extra money they have
                                                                                    • Personal treats are better than nothing
                                                                                      • Figure 32: How Gen Z adults spend their extra money, indexed against total adults, January 2020
                                                                                    • General aversion to debt influences spending habits
                                                                                      • Gen Z men, however, are more comfortable with debt
                                                                                        • Figure 33: Trade-off between debt and ownership of everyday items, by generation, January 2020
                                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                      • Gen Z equates career success with life success
                                                                                        • The early years of adulthood are hard
                                                                                          • Gen Z women are especially stressed
                                                                                            • This generation looks for cost-effective ways to relax
                                                                                              • Parents and close friends offer emotional support
                                                                                              • Perceptions of Success

                                                                                                • Teens see education and career as signs of success
                                                                                                  • Figure 34: Signs of success, among teens aged 13-17, February 2020
                                                                                                • To teens, marriage and kids are not integral to a successful life
                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Teen interest in college, marriage and parenthood, February 2020
                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Teen interest in getting into college and having kids, by gender, February 2020
                                                                                                • Gen Z adults also equate success with having a well-compensated job
                                                                                                  • Assets mark success for Gen Z adults, more so than education
                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Signs of success in America, among total Gen Z adults, February 2020
                                                                                                  • Marriage, parenthood more likely to signal success to Gen Z adults
                                                                                                    • Figure 38: Signs of success in America, Gen Z adults indexed against total adults, February 2020
                                                                                                • Transitioning to Adulthood

                                                                                                  • Feeling “like an adult” takes time
                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Agreement about feeling like an adult, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                  • Grocery shopping as a learned skill
                                                                                                    • Figure 40: Skills Gen Z adults learned from their parents, indexed against total adults, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Percentage of generation whose parents taught them how to shop for groceries, by gender, February 2020
                                                                                                  • Self-reliance will be key for Gen Z post-COVID
                                                                                                    • Also strong interest in learning basic car maintenance
                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Skills Gen Z adults learned as kids vs what kids today should learn, February 2020
                                                                                                  • Managing Stress

                                                                                                    • Gen Z feels greater sense of anxiety and frustration than older adults
                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Feelings about own life, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Most young adults say their lives are stressful
                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Stressfulness of day-to-day life, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Cost effective outlets for anxiety
                                                                                                      • Comfort foods beat exercise
                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Preference for junk food vs healthful food, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Content offers escape
                                                                                                        • The bathroom as an oasis
                                                                                                          • Figure 46: Gen Z adults’ methods for relieving stress, indexed against total adults, February 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 47: Gen Z adults’ methods for relieving stress, by gender, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Emotional Connections

                                                                                                        • Majority of Gen Z adults say they often hide their true feelings
                                                                                                          • Figure 48: Agreement that true feelings are often hidden, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                        • Gen Z adults feel less emotionally supported than Millennials
                                                                                                          • Figure 49: Agreement about having emotional support, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                        • More open to asking for help than older generations
                                                                                                          • Figure 50: Views on doing things on one’s own vs asking for help, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                        • Virtual friendships are normal
                                                                                                          • Figure 51: Views on forming friendships with people met online, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                                        • Parents still play an important role in the lives of Gen Z adults
                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Gen Z frequency for seeing their parents, February 2019
                                                                                                        • Therapists and technology give Gen Z other opportunities for support
                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Gen Z adults’ sources of emotional support, indexed against total adults, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                        • Data sources
                                                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                • Generations

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