Perspective Header Ask Gen Z Spending

Here’s What Gen Z Is Still Buying Despite High Inflation

Music streaming, podcasts, beauty products and more top their list.

by Carolyn Cutrone

For most of Gen Z’s financial lives, inflation has held steadily at one or two percent. Now, as many of them graduate college and start to build careers amidst an ever-shifting post-pandemic economy, inflation rates have climbed to about eight percent, resulting in both feelings of financial anxiety and apathy. While many have voiced their frustrations on social media, there are some upsides: Gen Z wages are annually increasing twice as fast as their Millennial and Gen X cohorts.

Izzi Sneider, a 24-year-old Creative Strategist Coordinator at Day One Agency, says it’s not worth worrying about costs that are out of her control. “I’m financially irresponsible—kidding. But I feel like [inflation is] inevitable and too exhausting to add to my plate of things to worry about.” She adds that some costs are too necessary to consider cutting. “Many [of the] things that have skyrocketed in price are things I can’t avoid spending money on, like rent,” she explains.

To gain more insight into how Gen Z is dealing with inflation and what costs they’re prioritizing, we asked members of Day One’s youth insights arm, Ask Gen Z, to answer a series of burning questions regarding spending on food, shopping, health and entertainment. Our key takeaways: beauty products and personal care topped the list, as did personal growth and emotional healthcare services like therapy and career or life coaching. Significantly, only 26% of those polled are thinking about higher costs regularly. “If I were to deliberately think about inflation on a daily basis, I’d go a bit insane,” 23-year-old Editorial Strategy Coordinator, Emma Fecko says. “It’s exhausting to consider tacking 'daily inflation worrying' onto my other obligations,” she adds. For more on D1A Gen Zers' current spending choices, read on.

Have you made any major spending changes as a result of inflation?

  • 0
    Yes
  • 0
    No

Insight: 69% of our Ask Gen Zers polled said they have not made major spending changes as a result of inflation.

Do you think about inflation on a daily basis?

  • 0
    Yes
  • 0
    No

Are you using your loyalty rewards cards/points more frequently or being more proactive about finding deals because of inflation?

  • 0
    Yes
  • 0
    No

Are you spending time looking for lower price alternatives for items you love?

  • 0
    Yes
  • 0
    No

Which shopping category (if any) could you never cut costs on because of inflation?

  • 0
    Clothing
  • 0
    Footwear
  • 0
    Beauty products (cosmetics, personal care, grooming)
  • 0
    Accessories (jewelry, bags, belts etc)

Insight: 70% of our Ask Gen Z voters polled said beauty and personal care is something they’d never cut costs on because of inflation. Two of those same voters also wouldn’t cut clothing costs, though they were fine to pause on accessories or footwear purchases. Only 17% of voters chose footwear as something they would never cut.

Which food-related category (if any) could you never cut costs on because of inflation?

  • 0
    Groceries
  • 0
    Takeout
  • 0
    Beverages (coffee, drinks, sparkling water)

Insight: Groceries rank of highest importance with 96% of poll responders choosing it as the category of food they would never cut costs on. Most of this group are cutting spending on takeout and beverages.

Which wellness category (if any) would you never cut costs on?

  • 0
    Fitness (gym/classes)
  • 0
    Recovery services (physical therapy, massages, acupuncture)
  • 0
    Doctors visits/health insurance
  • 0
    Personal growth/emotional health (life coach, therapist)
  • 0
    Wellness apps/technology

Insight: More of our Ask Gen Zers would choose to spend on emotional or mental health services like a therapist or life coach than on gym memberships. But of all the healthcare options, 65% would never skip doctors visits or paying for health insurance.

Which of these subscription or entertainment-related categories (if any) could you never cut costs on because of inflation?

  • 0
    Music/podcast streaming
  • 0
    TV/movie streaming
  • 0
    Gaming
  • 0
    Books/magazines

Insight: Music and podcasts are significantly more important to our Ask Gen Z team than TV and movie streaming, gaming and books/magazines combined.

Which, if any of these categories, are you spending more on as a way of doubling down on it because it’s important to you? (e.g. you’re shelling out for the premium version of something you already purchase)

  • 0
    Drinks/eating out
  • 0
    Home decor & goods
  • 0
    Travel/transportation
  • 0
    Groceries
  • 0
    Entertainment (any kind)
  • 0
    I’m not spending more on anything

Insight: The majority of those polled are not spending more on anything. But those who are spend more on groceries (17%) and transportation (17%) rather than on drinks, eating out, home decor or entertainment.

Would you spend more to make socially conscious choices when shopping (eco-friendly clothes/shopping locally) despite inflation?

  • 0
    Yes
  • 0
    No

Insight: Most of those polled—69%—would spend more to make sure their purchase was socially conscious (eco-friendly or from a small business).