What’s hot with Gen Z? Brand winners, losers and insights

by | Oct 19, 2017 | Public Relations

With an important holiday season about to kick off, new research from investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray Companies examines the presumptive wishlist for the ever-elusive Generation Z—and which brands are poised to win big this fall and beyond.

The firm completed its 34rd semi-annual Taking Stock with Teens research survey, which highlights spending trends and brand preferences amongst 6,100 teens across 44 U.S. states.

Since the project began in 2001, Piper Jaffray has surveyed more than 155,000 teens and collected nearly 40 million data points on teen spending in fashion, beauty and personal care, digital media, food, gaming and entertainment.

“For the first time in years, we’ve seen Nike share moderate as a preferred brand. Offsetting this weakness, we’ve seen an unexpected rise in trends like streetwear with Vans and Supreme gaining momentum. In addition, other brands such as adidas, Puma and New Balance have been capturing more mindshare as teens gravitate towards that 1990s retro look,” said Erinn Murphy, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst, in a news release.

What’s hot with Gen Z? Brand winners, losers and insights

Overall spending behavior

  • Overall teen spending moved down 4.4 percent year-over-year, while parent contribution to teen spend is 67 percent, just below the long-term average of 68 percent.
  • Wallet shifts in fall 2017 include slight downtick for video games, slight uptick for clothing, and moderate downtick for food.
  • Food ticked down from 24 percent in spring 2017 to 22% in fall 2017, but remains larger than clothing at 20 percent.


  • Athletic apparel is moderating somewhat led by Nike, but there is no slowdown in athletic footwear. Apparel brand preference is shifting towards streetwear with brands like Vans and Supreme.
  • Nike, Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, UGG (Deckers), Fossil and Michael Kors saw the largest declines among major brands.

Technology spending and behavior

  • Snapchat is the preferred social media platform for 47 percent of teens using the platform—up 12 percent year-over-year.
  • 82 percent of teens expect their next phone to be an iPhone, which is up from 81 percent in spring 2017, and more importantly, the highest we have ever seen in our survey.
  • Teens who expect >50 percent of their future video games to be digitally downloaded increased to 50 percent from 45 percent in spring 2017 and 37 percent from two years ago.
  • Streaming continues to gain teen video share as preference for linear TV declined 2 percent since last fall.
  • Only 35 percent of teens listen to Pandora radio versus 49 percent last year as on-demand services such as Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music continue to gain share.
  • 23 percent of teens prefer to shop specialty retailers, which is down 3 percent year-over-year, while pure-play e-com tied its spring 2017 peak at 17 percent—up 2 percent year-over-year.
  • Teens increasingly prefer Amazon as their favorite website at 49 percent share—up 9 percent year-over-year.

The Taking Stock with Teens survey is a semi-annual research project comprised of gathering input from approximately 6,100 teens with an average age of 16.0 years. Teen spending patterns, fashion trends, and brand and media preferences were assessed through surveying a geographically diverse subset of high schools across the U.S.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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