Generation Z, which contributes approximately $830 billion to U.S. retail sales annually, represents an influential consumer group where wallet size and allocation provide a proxy for category interest, according to a study published by Piper Jaffray Cos., Minneapolis.

The 38th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey highlights discretionary spending trends and brand preferences from 9,500 teens across 42 U.S. states with an average age of 15.8 years.

“Our fall teen survey continues to validate several characteristics of this digitally-native demographic—83% of teens have an iPhone, 52% of teens claim Amazon as their favorite online shopping website and we saw an acceleration of VSCO and TikTok mentions,” says Erinn Murphy, senior research analyst. “Importantly, however, we saw the lowest teen spending levels in eight years. The two most challenged categories were handbags and cosmetics as females reprioritize their spending with eating out and footwear/apparel.”

Key findings with spending and shopping behavior include:  

  • Food continues to be male teens’ No. 1 spending category (23%). 
  • Amazon holds majority of online shopping mindshare at 52%.

Key findings with brand preferences include:    

  • Chick-fil-A remains No. 1 restaurant for 4 surveys; Starbucks retains double-digit share.  
  • Teens spend 37% of their daily video consumption on YouTube, ahead of Netflix at 35%.

This survey is a semi-annual research project that gathers input from 9,500 teens with an average age of 15.8 years. Discretionary spending patterns, technology, brand and media preferences and more are assessed through surveying a geographically diverse subset of high schools across the United States.