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Millennial Parents Say Their Gen Z and Gen Alpha Children Influence These Purchases

As Millennials raise young Gen Z and Gen Alpha, their kids are having huge purchasing influence…


  • Grocery choices are the top purchase Millennials’ young Gen Z and Gen Alpha kids are influencing
  • Toys are, of course, high on the list as well, with social media driving their kids’ toy preferences
  • Entertainment is another major category their children have a say in, as parents often let their children choose content on their own

While not shoppers themselves (yet), young Gen Z and Gen Alpha already have spending power through their Millennial parents. Yes, these parents really do consider what their kids want when it comes to tons of their purchases, meaning oftentimes, whatever the young gens want, they get. So, for brands trying to make loyal consumers of the youngest generations, it’s important to know which kinds of products Millennial parents most listen to their kids’ suggestions for.  

In YPulse’s Finance and Spending Monitor report, we ask Millennial parents which purchases their children have influenced them to buy in the last month, as an open-ended question. Of course, some parents say their kids influenced just about everything. But these are the top purchases young Gen Z and Gen Alpha are taking part in deciding now: 

What purchases have their children influenced them to buy in the last month? 

Millennial parents

  1. Food / Groceries (non-specific) 
  2. Toys 
  3. Apparel / Clothes / Shoes 
  4. Snacks / Sweets / Desserts  
  5. Video games 
  6. Baby supplies 
  7. Many items 
  8. Video game console 
  9. School items 
  10. Entertainment-related items (e.g. movie / concert / sporting event ticket, streaming service, etc.) 

Gen Z and Gen Alpha guide Millennial parents’ grocery shopping the most 

The number one purchase parents say their young Gen Z and Gen Alpha children have recently influenced are food and grocery purchases. Fourth on their list is a more specific food category, with snacks / sweets / desserts being a top purchase their children have recently influenced. While YPulse’s Food Shopping and Trends report shows 73% of Millennial parents say their children influence the groceries they buy, our Cooking and Diets report data shows 66% agree their children are picky eaters. So, when it comes time to get groceries, they’re highly considering what their children actually want to eat. For these parents, even though the majority worry their family is not eating enough healthy foods, 55% still agree: “I am more interested in easy to prep meals for my child(ren) than how nutritional it is for them.”  

Some brands have already jumped to help Millennial parents solve this problem: food delivery services specifically targeting babies and toddlers are on the rise. Similar to Hello Fresh, services like Square Baby, White Leaf Provisions, Kid Snack Box, Little Spoon, Yumi, Nurture Life, Once Upon a Farm, Cerebelly, Lil’ Gourmets, Tiny Organics, and Yumble are all subscription-based food delivery packages for the kiddos. Ranging from convenient snack packs to healthy meals safe enough for developing babies, these services are aiming to give new parents stress-free food options—ones that their kids will actually eat. 

Their kids are already choosing their own toys 

Behind food and grocery choices, Millennial parents say their young Gen Z and Gen Alpha kids are heavily influencing toy purchases. This may seem obvious, but their children are making the call about what kinds of toys they want to own, so when it comes to marketing products for kids, brands should know they need to reach more than just their parents. When it comes to toys, kids’ content on social media can be a huge influence on what young Gen Z and even younger Gen Alpha are wanting from their Millennial parents. Because, yes, the vast majority of Millennial parents’ kids are using social media in some way, even if it’s just watching the YouTube videos that are put on to calm them (which, of course, have ads).  

But even more influential is content like toy reviews and unboxings that young viewers can navigate to on their own. In fact, some of the most influential online celebs for this kind of content are kids themselves; YPulse has told you before about “kidfluencers” like “Ryan’s World,” a channel of one child’s genuine reaction to new toys with nearly 34.7M subscribers and counting. Ten-year-old Ryan Kaji has his name on hundreds of products that his equally young viewers can ask their parents to buy for them. And even if the kids don’t ask themselves, the parents setting them up in front of the YouTube Kids platform might be influenced: YPulse data shows 38% of parents say social media influences what they buy for their children. For brands, this means that it’s important to be making social media content, or even partnering with “kidfluencers” to get recognition amongst the youngest consumers.  

The entertainment they choose is based on their kids’ preferences 

When it comes to which streaming services they’re paying for, and which events they’re buying tickets for, Millennial parents’ kids get a big say. In our Media Consumption report, YPulse asks Millennial parents which platforms their kids watch video content on weekly or more often, and the top two are Netflix and Disney+. This means that parents are certainly renewing subscriptions for these platforms to keep their kids entertained, especially knowing that the content is safe for young Gen Z and Gen Alpha to browse through and select on their own. Because while you might think parents are strictly controlling what their kids watch, our data shows 62% of Millennial parents agree: “I mostly let my child(ren) choose and watch any video content they want,” so these services can bring them peace of mind with kids’ profiles.  

The other entertainment they pay for, like movies, concerts, and sporting events, are also being influenced by their children’s interests. Some brands have taken note of this recently and have begun to put more of a focus on making mainstream entertainment that’s appealing to the whole family—like the recent success of Super Mario Bros. Movie. The New York Times reported that “Last year, family-oriented films — largely animation — represented 17 percent of worldwide ticket sales, about half of what they were in 2019,” but the recent movie’s opening weekends were a smash hit, signaling a family return to theaters. So even for non-entertainment brands, partnering with the franchises and services young Gen Z and Gen Alpha are guiding their parents toward is looking like a sure-fire way to get the attention, and perhaps loyalty, of Millennial parents.