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5 Scary Stats About Young Consumers

It’s Halloween, but these stats about Gen Z and Millennials might be what brands should be scared of…  


Happy Halloween! We’ve already shared a ton to prepare you for this spooky holiday, from what Gen Z & Millennials planned to spend and wear to our look at young consumers’ favorite candy. (In previous years we’ve also let you in on the Halloween movies these generations just can’t quit.) We rounded up the creepy marketing campaigns that we’ve seen this month and of course, there have also been trending costumes and costume scandals (we’re looking at you “sexy” Handmaid’s Tale ensemble).

With all of that Halloween info covered, instead we’re honoring the holiday by looking at what brands should actually be scared of: young consumers’ disruptive (yeah, we said it) behavior. Horror movies and trending witch series have nothing on these five scary stats about Gen Z and Millennials:

1. Seven in ten 13-35-year-olds say no matter what stores do to make visiting more interesting, they are still going to shop online for many things.

It’s the age of experiencification, as retailers race to make brick-and-mortar more alluring to young consumers—adding everything from cafes to rain rooms to cater to the concept that these days stores need to be about more than just shopping. Instagrammable installations and pop-ups are a marketing go-to as well, and it’s true that 80% of 13-17-year-olds, and 75% of 18-35-year-olds tell us that shopping should be an experience. But there’s no stopping the force of online shopping: 69% of 13-35-year-olds tell us that no matter what stores do to make visiting more interesting they’re still going to shop online for many things. And while some have anticipated that Gen Z might save in-person retail, 58% of 13-17-year-olds agree with that statement—and many don’t even have credit cards yet. Retailers need to recalibrate their expectations for in-store performance, potentially adopt a “showroom” mentality, and optimize their online shopping experience.

2. The majority of 13-36-year-olds say streaming services have better shows/movies than cable.

It’s clearly not just retail brands that need to be scared. Cord-cutting is happening even faster than predicted, and at this point binge viewing has become young consumers’ preference. But it’s not binging they’re hooked on: the majority (83%) of 13-36-year-olds tell Ypulse that they think that streaming services (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, etc.) have better shows/movies than cable. That could help explain why our most recent media consumption tracker shows that 74% of 13-36-year-olds report watching Netflix weekly, versus 33% who watch cable weekly. It’s no wonder that networks are launching an onslaught of new streaming services to compete. According to The Hollywood Reporter, CBS, Disney, and Warner Media are hopping on the bandwagon to compete for young cord-cutters’ viewing time.

3. Almost a third of 18-35-year-olds have boycotted a brand.

In our From Causes to Crises trend, we looked at brands’ position in today’s post-woke world. More than seven in ten 13-35-year-olds say brands have just as much responsibility as people to get involved with social causes, and even more say that buying products from brands that supports the causes they support makes them feel better about spending money. This movement has gained momentum over the past year, and while some brands have hit the mark, others have found themselves in the crosshairs of social media outrage due to affiliations with unpopular (or “un-woke”) stances. Young consumers are willing to take action when that happens: 31% of 18-35-year-olds, and 21% of 13-17-year-olds, tell us that they have boycotted a brand. Another scary stat? Only 14% of young consumers say they would never stop buying from their favorite brands because of a scandal.

4. Seven in ten 13-34-year-olds are always looking for new products to try.

Young consumers are loyal-ish. We found that almost eight in ten 13-34-year-olds consider themselves loyal to one or more brands, which is good news! But it comes with a caveat: 71% of 13-34-year-olds say they are always looking for new products to try. So even if you think you’ve captured their loyalty, they’ve got a roving eye. This means they’ll stick with the brands they like, but are willing (and eager) to try something new at the same time. Over half of young consumers say that they would stop using the products/services of a brand they have purchased over and over again if another brand made better performing products—so all brands need to be in constant beta, competing against their own last offering.

5. Over three in five 13-36-year-olds feel guilty about spending money.

These are the recession generations. With frugal mentalities baked into them at young ages, they’re practical about their spending, always looking for discounts, and, yes, they even feel guilty about shopping. In our recent research on splurging we found that 68% of 13-36-year-olds feel guilting about spending money. But they are finding ways to feel comfortable about splurging: 92% say they like to “treat themselves” every once in a while, and 84% say that shopping can be self-care.