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15 Things From 2020 That Gen Z & Millennials Actually Want To Keep Going

Young consumers’ lives were changed completely in 2020—and over half say there are changes they want to keep. Here’s what they are… 


We don’t have to rehash all the upheaval that young consumers endured and adjusted to this year. After all, a dumpster fire has become the unofficial symbol of 2020. But while there have of course been challenges and plenty of negatives, we’ve found that young consumers’ resilience, and their optimism, has shone through. The majority tell us they are positive about the future, and in the wake of the historic events of this year Gen Z and Millennials are rethinking major plans and milestones, from education and career to family and homes. YPulse’s Life Plans, Rewritten trend research explores the impact of the pandemic on their life goals, their biggest priorities now, and their plans for 2021 and beyond, and found that 72% of young people believe once the Coronavirus crisis is over they will bounce back and still achieve their life goals.

But they’re not only positive about the future—many are also finding bright spots from the last 12 months. YPulse’s research found that 54% of 13-39-year-olds say there are changes they’ve made because of Coronavirus crisis that they would like to keep as part of their life. As we move into 2021, these priorities will continue to be important parts of their lives—and so important to understanding them. So of course we also asked young people exactly what the changes they want to keep are. Here are their top responses:

What Changes They’ve Made In 2020 Do They Want to Keep?

Among 13-39-year-olds:

  1. Improved health/ eating / exercise habits
  2. Career change/ new business / side hustle
  3. Time with family / friends
  4. Relationships with others
  5. Being more cautious and hygienic
  6. More time alone / Social distancing
  7. Focusing on myself
  8. New perspectives / attitudes
  9. Shopping/spending habits
  10. Working from home
  11. Saving money / changed spending
  12. Staying home more
  13. Improved productivity
  14. More free time
  15. Self-improvement

Of all the changes that young consumers have made this year, improved health habits are the ones they’re most likely to want to keep going. Though YPulse’s Comfort in the Kitchen trend research found that comfort food (and stress eating) helped get young consumers through 2020, that doesn’t mean they threw away their desires to eat well and be active—and we also found that 83% of 13-39-year-olds say they want to start 2021 with a healthier body and mind. While many respondents told us that “eating healthier,” “exercising more,” are the changes they want to make, many talked about more of the healthy habits they’ve made a part of their routines as well. One 17-year-old male explained he wants to keep up, “Better habits that I have built. Such as waking up early, mediating, distancing myself from negative people, etc.” while an 18-year-old female said, “I would like to maintain healthy eating, cleanliness, meditating, and working out at home.” Of course, it wasn’t just teens with this broad perspective on health. We heard from a female 39-year-old, “I hope to cook more, walk more, not go out so often now that I’m used to being alone, continue to try to work on personal projects often,” and a 31-year-old male told us, “I have started to cook at home a lot more and have a healthier lifestyle. I’d like to continue this.” Overall health and wellness will potentially be even more important to young consumers in 2021 and beyond as they try to maintain new positive changes, or for some potentially working to undo some of the bad habits they might have fallen into during quarantines.

Changes in perspective and attitudes were also common responses, with some young people saying they want to continue to be more cautious, and others saying they want to continue focusing on themselves, or to keep up more positive outlooks that they’ve adopted during this time. Newfound optimism and an appreciation for what they have were themes we saw in these responses.

Career changes were the second most common change that young people would like to keep in their lives going forward. Responses in this category ranged from making a career shift, to starting new jobs and creating new income streams. Of course, employment has been a major struggle for young people during 2020—and for many this crisis has led to new job paths. In fact, our Life Plans, Rewritten research found a full 62% of young people agree with the statement, “The pandemic has made me reassess my career goals.” New careers isn’t the only work-related item on the list. Many Millennials began working from home this year, and YPulse’s No Place Like Home research revealed that 62% would like to keep working from home even after the threat of COVID has passed.

Looking at the rest of the list, there are some major changes that could impact brands directly—specifically shopping and spending changes, and saving money. Being more frugal and shopping online more were the most common types of responses that we saw in these categories. Continuing to focus on ecommerce, and understanding that young consumers will likely be reserved about spending as we move into the new year will be necessary for brands who want to reach these generations.