According to Piper Sandler’s 41st Semi-Annual Generation Z Survey, Nike and Lululemon earned new highs in mindshare while Under Armor saw improved mindshare.

Overall, athletic brands dominated fashion preferences as 38 percent of preferred apparel brands are “athletic” with notable gains in Nike (No. 1 apparel and footwear brand), Lululemon at number four and improvement for Under Armour

Overall, the Top 5 footwear brands in mindshare were Nike, 56 percent; Vans, 12 percent; Adidas, 9 percent; Converse, 6 percent; and Foot Locker, 2 percent.

The Top 5 clothing brands in mindshare were Nike, 27 percent; American Eagle, 7 percent; PacSun, 6 percent; Lululemon, 4 percent; and Adidas, 4 percent. For more than 10 years, Nike remains the No. 1 apparel brand. PacSun moved up from the No. 5 apparel brand to No. 3 while Adidas fell to No. 5, its lowest since Fall 2017.

The Top 5 shopping websites in mindshare were Amazon, 56 percent; Shein, 7 percent; Nike, 5 percent; and PacSun, 3 percent.

The Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens survey is a semi-annual research project that gathers input from 7,000 teens with an average age of 16.1 years.

This year’s Spring 2021 survey was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, conducted from February 19 to March 24, showed 58 percent of teens have returned to school in a hybrid format or in person this Spring, while 42 percent remained entirely virtual. The survey received the highest responses from the South at 48 percent and 10 percent from Northeast responses, similar to its Spring and Fall 2020 survey.

“Our Spring survey gave rise to several themes emerging for GenZ as we think about the path to reopening. We see a female-led spending recovery with upticks in spending on clothing, handbags and skincare. Within apparel, athletic is still the dominant trend, with Nike and Lululemon taking new highs and Under Armour seeing improved mindshare. Simultaneously, we see a revival of the 1990s fashion trend of flannel shirts, baggy pants, mom jeans, and eclectic hair trends.

“GenZ is a conscious generation as teens this Spring site racial equality and the environment as their top social issues. We have also seen “thrifting” emerge as a strong trend as thinking secondhand is becoming second nature to teens. In fact, 47 percent of teens have purchased and 55 percent have sold secondhand.

“In the wake of COVID-19, and given these consumers are digitally-native, we are not surprised to see online adoption at its highest this Spring. Snapchat & TikTok are the top two social media platforms. While Amazon remains the No. 1 website. We see a rise in female-centric platforms like SHEIN, Revolve and Princess Polly,” said Erinn Murphy, senior research analyst, Piper Sandler.

Spring 2021 Key Findings | Spending and Shopping Behavior

  • Areas of wallet share contraction included Concerts & Events and Car remaining below multi-year average;
  • Areas of wallet share expansion included Clothing & Accessories, especially for females;
  • Skincare spending for females ranked ahead of makeup spending.
  • TikTok influencers have reshaped skincare brand preferences, with 86 percent of females using online influencers as a source of discovery for beauty brands and trends;
  • Video games hold 16 percent of teen wallet share; 
  • 53 percent of gamers plan to purchase a new console system in the next two years; and
  • Teens allocate 8 percent of their shopping to secondhand; 47 percent of teens have purchased and 55 percent have sold secondhand thrift/consignment stores ranked No. 10 as favorite brand/retailer, compared to No. 23 in its Spring 2020 survey.

Brand Preferences

  • Chick-fil-A remains the No. 1 restaurant for seven consecutive surveys; Starbucks maintains the No. 2 and Chipotle remains No. 3;
  • 49 percent of teens either consume, or are willing to try, plant-based meat with Impossible Foods as the No. 1 choice, followed closely by Beyond;
  • 96 percent of females claim to shop online versus 88 percent last year, while 92 percent of males claim to shop online versus 91 percent last year;
  • Lays is the most preferred snack brand among teens at 11 percent, followed closely by Campbell’s Goldfish at 9 percent;
  • Ulta maintains the No. 1 preferred beauty destination versus Sephora for the fifth survey in a row (46 percent share versus 39 percent last year); 80 percent of female teens are willing to spend more for “clean” or natural beauty;
  • Tarte remains the top-ranked cosmetic brand for seven consecutive surveys; e.l.f. registered an all-time high in the survey as the No. 2 preferred makeup brand;
  • CeraVe holds the No. 1 spot as the top skincare brand for the second survey in a row; The Ordinary remains in the No. 4 spot, similar to its Fall survey, and up from No. 14 last Spring.
  • Teens spend 32 percent of their daily video consumption on Netflix, down slightly from 34 percent in Fall 2020, followed by YouTube at No. 2 and Hulu at No. 3.
  • Half of the list of favorite social media personalities is dominated by YouTube and TikTok content creators; and
  • 88 percent of teens own an iPhone, and 90 percent expect an iPhone to be their next phone, both with record survey highs.

Photo courtesy Lululemon