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3 Stats That Show How Young Consumers Got Through 2020

Gen Z and Millennials’ coped with the events of this year in many ways, but these three stats show three of the major trends they embraced…

During a year of trials and challenges, young consumers looked for escapes and comfort in many forms. Streaming content intensified as they dealt with their emotions through media, they bought up comfy clothes, ordered booze, and turned video games into social spaces. All of these had implications for brands. But their coping behaviors also shifted their behaviors in significant, lasting ways. Here are three stats that show some of the ways young consumers got through 2020, and changed their worlds…

They refocused on their homes.

While Gen Z and Millennials have long had homebody tendencies, some wondered if being forced to stay in quarantines would alter their feelings towards the home, and yearn to break out. But YPulse No Place Like Home research found the opposite: home was a shelter from the storm for young people, and they leaned into the time they’ve spent there. We found that one way Gen Z and Millennials got through this year was by focusing on making their current spaces more comfortable: 64% of young consumers told us they’ve become more interested in improving/fixing up their homes because of COVID-19. This sentiment was true whether they owned those home spaces or not. Some of this home improvement was to fix issues that became glaring once they were spending 24/7 in their homes, but they also wanted to make those homes more comforting: 46% of quarantined young people became more interested in creating a better space in their home to relax in because of COVID-19. Many of the biggest trends we saw this year were rooted in coping with the pandemic and the trauma of this year’s events, and young people’s focus on their home spaces was no different. They weren’t just painting and buying home décor for fun: 72% of young people said their home has been an important part of maintaining their mental health during COVID-19. With many cities shutting down again and many months ahead before the vaccine is widely available, it’s safe to be that their desire to make home as warm and calming as possible will be continuing well into 2021—if not beyond.

They cooked their hearts out.

COVID has undoubtedly altered young consumers’ relationship with food. Grocery shopping shifted into an essential trip, and Gen Z and Millennials were not immune to panic buying, with the majority telling us that they felt the need to stockpile products and food in the beginning of the pandemic. What they eat has also changed, as two generations known for their healthier dining choices suddenly altered their diets to cope with the pandemic, and their new routines. Our Comfort in the Kitchen trend research explored all of that and more—and found that more time spent at home has led to more cooking than ever. Of course, flour and yeast shortages at the beginning of quarantines were a major sign that this trend was taking off, as stress baking became a major pastime. Half of Gen Z and Millennials report that they’re cooking more than they did last year, but for most of them, this cooking is not a chore. Instead, 71% agree, “I feel more passionate than ever about cooking since COVID.” Social media feeds were flooded with recipe ideas and creative takes on recipes (never forget Dalgona coffee and pancake cereal). Even as time as passed, “kitchen fatigue” is not setting in with these generations, who have turned to their ovens and stoves for comfort. In fact, 73% told us “Cooking is a creative outlet for me,” and 78% of young people cooking more agree: “Cooking has a positive impact on my mental health during COVID.” Once again, don’t expect this trend to die off: the majority of young people tell us they plan to keep cooking more even after COVID is over.

They hit the road.  

Of course, young people do need some alternate to all that time in the house and kitchen. YPulse’s Driving Forward trend research found that though Gen Z and Millennials are commuting and driving less, their interest in cars is actually stronger than before. Quarantines have sparked a newfound appreciation for their pre-COVID commutes and put the spotlight on the benefits of owning a car in the midst of a health crisis. We found that 58% have been driving their car more just to escape from home. Of course, road trips have become immensely popular during this time, and unsurprisingly 73% are more interested in taking road trips than flying to a destination during COVID-19. But it wasn’t just those who already had a car who hit the road: Close to one in five of young people overall say they have become more interested in purchasing a car specifically because of COVID- 19, and around one in ten 20-38-year-olds say they purchased a car because of COVID, which works out to roughly nine million Millennials who are now car owners. Escape their homes whenever they want is one of the top reasons for increased interest in car purchasing. As cars have become a mode of escapism, brands are using them to reach young people and reimage experiences. Drive-ins and drive-thrus have become a major trend as the pandemic continues.