Customer acquisition and CRO

Gen Z spending habits during the rising cost of living

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
March 16, 2023
Last updated
May 9, 2024

What this article covers

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Let's get straight to the point: Gen Z hasn't had it easy. The younger years of this generation's lives have been shaped by a global pandemic, climate disaster, a war in Ukraine and now, to top it all off, a cost-of-living crisis.

Unsurprisingly, these events are having a huge impact on this generation, both in the way they view the world and how they interact with those around them. The financial uncertainty many of them are now facing is leaving them skeptical and scared; in fact, a significant 97% of users of Pion's student discount platform, Student Beans, feel they're struggling more with the rising cost of living than people think.

Our latest guide, How is the Rising Cost of Living Affecting Gen Z?, discusses how Gen Zers are feeling, explores how the economy is influencing their spending habits and looks at how brands can best support them and secure their loyalty.

Gen Z and the rising cost of living

So what's the general consensus amongst young spenders? Well, aside from everyday issues such as food prices and living expenses, this generation is fully aware of the impact that rising inflation will have on their futures. Major concerns include the impact on their credit ratings, education, long term careers and the housing market.

5 cost-of-living stats you need to know

  • Currently, 32% of Gen Z students are considering dropping out of university due to their financial position
  • 49% have concerns about supporting themselves financially in general
  • 74% will be looking for cheaper versions of products they usually buy
  • 83% will be cutting down on non-essential spending
  • 36% will have to spend money from their savings
three gen zers stood against a wall

How is rising inflation impacting Gen Z consumers?

Contrary to popular belief, Gen Zers aren't frivolous with their cash - in fact, insights revealed in the How is the Rising Cost of Living Affecting Gen Z? guide suggests quite the opposite. A huge 98% of US students said they have a regular cash savings account they can access, whilst 38% of students from the UK said they think people should invest in stocks and shares.

Interestingly, 67% of UK and US respondents said they'll be looking for online content about how to save money; this is certainly an opportunity for your brand to step up and make a positive difference. Whether it be via 'finfluencer' partnerships or just using your platform to start a conversation, you can discover our top tips in the guide.

Despite this, Gen Zers still enjoy the occasional indulgence, but they're becoming savvier - their go-to money-saving hack is to seek out discounts and deals to help them save their cents and pennies when it comes to non-essential spending. In fact, as revealed in the guide:

  • 45% of students look for student discounts every single time they make a purchase.
  • 73% of students will be cutting back on ordering takeaways during the cost-of-living crisis.
  • 59% of UK and 66% of US students are spending more time evaluating before making a purchase.

Want to learn more about how you can promote your student discounts and drive conversions? Get in touch with Pion today.

Gen Z woman shopping in-store

What does this mean for brands?

So now you understand how Gen Z are feeling and what they're searching for, but how can you act upon this?

  1. Incentivise purchases. Gen Zers have less spare cash to spend on non-essential items, so when they do want to make a purchase, it's vital that you incentivise them via exclusive and regular student discounts to encourage them to really commit.
  2. Brand affinity. It's not easy to win the loyalty of Gen Z, but once you've got them, you've got them for life. Consistency and personalisation will encourage young shoppers to return to the reliable brands they know and love, and will also lead to some much-desired peer-to-peer recommendations.
  3. Authentic connections with consumers. Discounts may be the number one driver to purchasing, but what about a brand's ethical standpoint? Gen Z has zero tolerance for tokenism and favors those that support the causes they're passionate about. Brands' discounts must be driven by values in order to truly connect with young people in these times.

And there's plenty more where that came from! Download the full How is the Rising Cost of Living Affecting Gen Z? guide now for more insights, takeaways and stats relating to key sectors, including: fashion, tech & mobile, health & beauty, travel, and food & drink. Available now.

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