Intro — Gen Z Values & Value: Consumer Confidence Report

Gen Z Values & Value: Consumer Confidence Report

The Post-War American Dream (going to college, buying a home, starting a family, living comfortably off a pension) had a good run. It was a dream laid out on a road paved smoothly, leading Boomers to record wealth.

The road got rockier as it put Gen X in golden handcuffs and then became a path littered with frustrating detour signs for Millennials.

And now, with the cost of higher education and homes in the stratosphere, for Gen Z, that road appears to be pretty much washed out.

While Millennials have been endlessly frustrated by the obstacles that have prevented them from building wealth at the same rate their parents did at their age, and being dragged for being “frivolous” with money (enough with the latte and avocado toast jokes already), Gen Z won’t be shamed. They dare older generations to give them a hard time for buying a luxury bag or a bubble tea instead of saving for a home.

Because Gen Z already knows that their lived experience as they move through the phases of adulthood won’t look like previous generations. The world has just changed too much.

So, as we begin 2023, and we sort through the very real impact of inflation and the mixed signals about whether the MUCH talked about recession will actually materialize…it’s important to keep in mind that, whatever happens, Gen Z will go through their first “of age” time of economic instability differently than older generations.

While Gen Zs behavior may often appear contradictory (coupon clipping for some products but insisting on buying the complete set of their favorite luxury skincare brand), their spending habits during economic volatility will be based on:

  • They’ve only ever known permacrises. Their entire lives have been lived through a series of crises, so an economic crisis is just another to deal with…and they will. They will make adjustments and ride the waves of whatever comes next.
  • They have a different set of values and life goals, so adjustments in purchasing decisions may look different from what you’d expect.
  • While they want to build economic stability for themselves, they don’t expect to use the same methods as previous generations.

The way they spend is one of several ways Cassandra sees a growing generation gap that may only make cents if you look at it through a Gen Z lens. In Cassandra’s subsequent reports, we’ll explore these contradictions further, not only in how they spend their money but how they work, how they feel about politics, and how aesthetics play a vital role in their life.

In this month's report, Cassandra starts to invest in just how much Gen Z has money on their mind and how much and where they're willing to cash stuff compared to other generational cohorts. Read on as we ask if omnichannel purchasing is the next level of convenience for Gen Z. Will the adoption of peer-to-peer payment apps change the face of credit for young consumers? And, will Livestream shopping be Gen Zs calling card?