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Gen Z And Millennials Are Changing The Game 

Young shoppers on bicycles posing for a group selfie during the day in an alley way in the city.
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The TD Cowen Insight

Our sixth annual proprietary Gen Z and Millennial Survey, a nine-analyst collaboration, illustrates transformational shifts. Seismic changes in spending power, demographics, and technology will create new opportunities for growth, competitive advantage, and risks. Social commerce, value perception, and shifts to digital are increasingly critical to growth, and risk across retail, luxury, e-commerce, restaurants, beverage, and travel. Younger consumers are showing propensity to further cut spend into 2024. 

Generational Shifts Will Impact Consumer Behavior

Gen Z and Millennial consumers should grow to 68% of the population by 2028 vs 45% today. Within the United States they will inherit an estimated $60T of wealth into 2050 and have vastly different perspectives on brands, channels of engagement, consumption, and household formation relative to older demographics. The combination of the consumer’s increased focus on value and the success of premium positioned brands has created an increasingly polarized consumer sector. 

TD Cowen Gen Z and Millennial Survey

TD Cowen’s Gen Z and Millennial 2,700-person survey is one of the most unique datasets regarding variance between younger and older demographic consumption patterns and attitudes. Our sixth annual proprietary dataset reinforces category and channel dominance. It also reinforces rapid growth in preference for a select group of companies within younger demographics across multiple consumer discretionary, consumer staples, and e-commerce sectors. 

Key Conclusions From Our 2023 Survey

  1. Social commerce gains with younger consumers continues to fragment. Lower barriers to entry across verticals (particularly softlines) are inducing higher competition, lower margins, and valuations for companies that are not price setting, category leaders. 
  2. Value is emerging as a secular theme with younger cohorts as inflationary pressure has changed consumer comfort level and budgets into 2024. All consumer age cohorts are looking to cut spend. 
  3. Direct-to-consumer and digital channels preferences are maintaining post-pandemic gains in the survey. 
  4. 18–35-year-old consumers spend on average 4-8 hours per day on cellphones. ~20% of the cohort spends 8-10+ hours per day. These consumers consider cell phones the most important part of their budget – further amplifying social commerce’s structural gains.