Apr 12, 2021
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Secondhand is increasingly an obvious choice for Gen-Z consumers in the US

Apr 12, 2021

In recent months, environmentally conscious and politically committed members of Gen-Z, who are quite happy with the principle of secondhand, having been buying and selling more and more used goods in the US. The global market for secondhand items could well enjoy explosive growth in view of its popularity with this highly influential age group, which contributes an annual 830 billion dollars to retail sales in the USA.


Although they are keen to support the preservation of the environment on social networks, are teenagers really ready to demonstrate their commitment to the cause when acting as consumers? The question is not an easy one, giving the difficulty of analyzing such a complex generation, as Eric Briones, co-founder of the Paris School of Luxury and the author of the book "Le choc Z" pointed out in March. Now a new Piper Sandler study of 7,000 Americans with an average age of 16.1 years has revealed that buying secondhand is becoming "second nature" for Gen-Z teens.

Among the those questioned by the Spring 21 survey, no less than 47% had already bought and 55% had already sold secondhand goods. Not surprisingly then, the survey also notes that teenagers conduct 8% of their purchasing on the secondhand market. Another important development is the growing popularity of thrift stores and secondhand outlets, which were placed 10th in the ranking of preferred brands and retailers for this generation, as opposed 23rd in a previous iteration of the study last year.

However, the study does not explain why teenagers are buying more secondhand goods. Price could be the main motivating factor - more than commitment to the environment - especially when you consider that Amazon remains the online shopping site most commonly cited by young Americans (56%), ahead of Shein (7%), Nike (5%), and PacSun (3%).

A definite taste for sportswear and 1990s fashions

Times may be changing, but the members of Gen-Z are remarkably constant in their enthusiasm for sportswear-inspired looks. Three of the top-5 brands favored by American teens have very clear links to sport: Nike (27%), Lululemon (4%) and adidas (4%). This trend is even more pronounced when it comes to shoe brands with Nike (56%), Vans (12%), adidas (9%), Converse (6%), and Foot Locker (2%) all highly placed in the footwear ranking. 

Another noteworthy phenomenon is this generation's penchant for 1990s fashions, which, as Piper Sandler has reported, has resulted in booming sales for certain pieces identified with that decade, notably flannel shirts, baggy pants, and mom jeans.

Teen spending on skincare overtakes makeup

Say goodbye to makeup, the health crisis has completely overturned the beauty habits of this generation, which now has a growing interest in skincare. "Spending on skincare products for women has overtaken spending on makeup", reveals the survey. An interesting aspect of this change is that teenagers are increasingly turning to online influencers when seeking information on current trends and new beauty brands (86%).

Dermatologist-recommended products are very much in vogue with Gen-Z, a fact reflected in the ranking of the agegroup's favorite brands: CeraVe (35%), Cetaphil (10%), Neutrogena (8%), The Ordinary (7%), and Curology (3%).

A committed and socially aware generation

As everyone knows, teenagers are keen to rally in support of a wide variety of causes on social networks. This has been confirmed by the survey which ranks racial equality (20%), the environment (12%), the Black Lives Matter movement (6%), and the coronavirus (5%) high on the list of Gen-Z's societal concerns.

Piper Sandler Companies conducted this 41st semi-annual "Taking Stock With Teens" survey, in partnership with DECA. The survey questioned 7,000 teenage respondents with an average age of 16.1 years in 47 U.S. states  between February 19 and March 24.

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