The Current, delivered daily.
The preferences of teenagers say a lot about what one of the most valuable cohorts of consumers wants to see on the digital shelf, and where tastes are heading next.
That’s why Piper Sandler’s annual survey of teens proves to provide valuable insights. This spring's Taking Stock with Teens report received input from 5,690 teens across 47 states. The survey was fielded February 13 to March 21.
Here are a dozen key findings showing Gen Z preferences in areas that are relevant to ecommerce and retail:
Teen spending is up 2% year-over-year, with core beauty (cosmetics, skincare, fragrance) growing a notable 19% year-over-year to $313 annually. Cosmetics were up 32% year-over-year.
Shopping channel preferences are showing a shift to off-price (+500 basis points YoY) and secondhand (+200 bps YoY).
Buy Now Pay Later: PayPal’s “Pay in 4” was most popular, followed by Square’s Afterpay.
Apparel: Nike held onto the top spot for most popular brand, while lululemon fell to No 3.
Footwear: Crocs ranked No. 6 and Hey Dude ranked No. 8, both gaining share. On Running and Hoka were No. 12 and No. 19, respectively.
Beauty: e.l.f.remains the top cosmetics brand, gaining 900 basis points to 22% for female teams.
Beauty retail: Specialty Retail for beauty purchases was 75%, equalling spring 2021 highs. Mass/dept/drug reached a new low of 12%.
Snacks: Teens report the highest intentions to eat more or the same amount of Cheez-It and Goldfish. Goldfish remain the most preferred snack.
Plant-based: 42% of teens consume or are willing to try plant-based meat, vs. 49% in spring of 2021. In dairy, 40% are willing to try plant-based dairy.
Customer service: Phone is the No. 1 preferred method, while text/SMS showed the best multi-year gains.
Shopping: Amazon remained the top destination for shopping, while Nike gained the No. 2 spot.
Apps: TikTok remained the overall top app among teens.
Trending in Economy
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”