Gen Z’s disposable income in 2021 has reached an estimated $360 billion. This figure represents the income Gen Zers earn from full-time or part-time employment ($263 billion), discretionary spending money from their parents ($57 billion), and the income they generate from viable side hustles ($40 billion)—and clearly represents a huge opportunity for brand marketers who can build trust with this brand-skeptical generation. A new report from research and advisory firm Gen Z Planet examines Gen Z’s growing disposable income and their attitudes towards money.
“With a figure this big, just imagine the opportunities,” said Hana Ben-Shabat, founder of Gen Z Planet, in a news release. “It’s critical to understand the size and the evolution of Gen Z spending power as it constantly changes. More Gen Zers are joining the workforce every year, and many are taking on entrepreneurial side hustles to make extra cash.” She also noted that “For at least three years, the industry’s been using outdated figures that underestimated the true potential of Generation Z’s spending power. An updated figure will better guide retailers and brands as they market to this generation.”
Gen Zers—who grew up during the 2008 recession and are now experiencing the economic impact of COVID-19—are very cautious, calculated, and long-term oriented when it comes to money and they take on every opportunity to generate extra cash. From taking surveys to reselling used items online, Gen Zers learned to capitalize on the possibilities afforded to them by a digital economy.
In addition, they are savvy savers and investors. Eighty five percent of the study participants say they save between a quarter to half of the money they earn or receive from their parents, with an average of 32 percent savings. While most of these savings are kept in regular saving accounts, future-minded Gen Zers are also investing in the stock market (26 percent), retirement accounts (14 percent) and even NFTs (6 percent).
“Like Millennials before them, Gen Zers face the very real danger of being misunderstood,” Ben-Shabat said. “Brands, marketers, and retailers that take the time to truly understand how this entrepreneurially minded and financially switched-on generation thinks and behaves will quickly benefit from their growing spending power.”
The study is based on analysis of employment and earnings data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census’ Current Population Survey. In addition, a survey of a representative sample of 1000 Gen Zers (aged 16–23) was conducted to establish the level of parental financial support, as well as the extent to which members of this generation adopted side hustles as a viable income stream.