gen z

Teens Ditching Established Brands For Small Innovators

Well-established brands need to be more careful if they want to keep Gen Z happy. Piper Sandler’s new “Taking Stock With Teens” survey is out, and the semiannual research notes a shift away from large brands, including Nike and Lululemon, in favor of trendier labels.

“We are seeing some significant shifts in brand preferences, including the rise of smaller, innovative brands that are taking share from incumbents,” says Abbie Zvejnieks, senior research analyst at Piper Sandler, in the report.

“Social media has led to an accelerated trend cycle including an increased emphasis on key products, and brands must be nimble to keep up.”

While it does show a slight increase in teen spending since the fall survey, self-reported spending is down 6% year-over-year to $2,263, well below pre-pandemic levels. Among the notable shifts: Upper-income girls spent 12% less on fashion. Overall spending on footwear fell 1%, with average-income kids spending 3% less and upper-income teens laying out 5% more.



Nike continues to be No. 1 in apparel (with a 34% share of mind) and footwear (with 59%), as it has been for many years. But it is losing its share of mind, especially among teens from families with higher incomes, where On Running, HOKA and New Balance are gaining. And while Lululemon is still the second-hottest athletic apparel brand among those upper-income kids, Alo Yoga and Vuori are picking up steam.

TikTok is still at the top of social media, but Instagram is rising again, bumping Snapchat out of second place. Netflix also wins the most daily video consumption.

Chick-fil-A remains No. 1 in restaurants, followed by McDonald’s and Chipotle. Raising Cane’s, a newcomer to the list, ranks fourth, followed by Texas Roadhouse.

While there are no changes in the top beauty brand, where E.L.F. still reigns, there is a shift in spending, with beauty commanding an average of $339, its highest level since 2018. Rare Beauty, Selena Gomez’s brand, ranks second, followed by Maybelline, Charlotte Tilbury and Fenty Beauty.

CeraVe trounces competitors in skincare, with a 38% share of voice, followed by the Ordinary, 9%, and La Roche Posay, 6%.

The five most popular celebrities are Taylor Swift, Adam Sandler, Drake, Ryan Reynolds and Kanye West.

The five most important causes are the environment, which has a 14% share of mind, followed by inflation, which is 9%. Racial equity gets 6% share of mind, abortion, 5%, and immigration, also 5%.

The research is based on more than 6,000 teens around the country, which it segments by higher and lower income, as well as gender and region.

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