Financial Feels: How Gen Z are reshaping the retail landscape

A Foresight Report for Afterpay

type - features
category - generation z
sector - youth
type - case studies
Case Studies
Invested in learning more about the generation raised in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Afterpay commissioned The Future Laboratory to produce a new foresight report identifying key trends that will shape Generation Z's future

Combining expert interviews with consumer insight, The Future Laboratory identified the emerging Gen Z trends and attitudes that will transform both the lifestyle and finance markets over the next decade. From financial wellness to community driven commerce, the Financial Feels report examines how this generation’s changing values will alter each aspect of the retail experience – helping Afterpay communicate to their retailers exactly what this generation will expect of them.

I have worked with The Future Laboratory on two occasions, and each time I have been extremely pleased with its professionalism, insights, ability to get the job done and flexibility. The Afterpay Gen Z Financial Feels report has exceeded our expectations in terms of use/insights across the business in addition to media coverage generated globally,' states Louisa Galligani, PR & Comms, of Afterpay ANZ.

In addition to the long-from report, we sharpened our insights further into a snack-sized summary for the company to offer its retailers to take into their PR activities. Click below to discover the resulting snapshot from the Financial Feels report, with key takeaways and stats for this generation. 



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Commissioned by:

23 July 2020

Author: The Future Laboratory


: Welcome to Gen Z

Regenerative Futures by Irregular Labs

As we continue to navigate through uncertain times, Generation Z find comfort in having their values firmly set in place: 

: Credit what – Millennials turned away from credit cards, whereas Gen Z aren’t even signing up (94% of Afterpay Gen Z customers link their account to a debit card). Instead they are looking for low-commitment, straightforward solutions that are budget-focused, customer-centric and empower rather than entrap.

: Flexibility first – Gen Z want to be able to turn on and off commitments in their life and this is paramount when it comes to their finances.

: Financial wellness is queen – The overt display of wealth, or wealth-hoarding, is dead; being financially in control is key, particularly as we approach the other side of Covid-19.

: Let me entertain you – As the lines of entertainment, commerce and social media blend into one, being able to shop directly from one platform is key.

: Provenance matters – Gen Z are embracing community-driven labels and the direct-to-consumer model.

: Real people sell – Glossy, edited and unobtainable images used in advertising are out; lo-fi and unfiltered imagery using real people is in.

: The environment and sustainability matter –  Brands that can play their part in combating waste pollution will win.

: I'll show you mine, but... – Privacy concerns matter and are only accepted by Gen Z if the outcome is a tailored customer experience and data is used only for the stated purpose.

: Financial wellness, not financial anxiety

Gully Guy Leo by OhkayChris

Gen Z are looking for low-commitment, straight-forward solutions to manage their wealth in the way they manage their health. They want apps that proactively monitor their spend, capture lifestyle data and advise on the best ways to save or optimise their finances. 94% of Afterpay’s Gen Z customers use their own money, linking their account to a debit card and use brands like Afterpay to manage their budget, minimise inconvenience and monitor their money in real time.

They are also more entrepreneurial than previous generations, using side-hustles – trading on Depop or peer-to-peer websites – to raise as much as A$14,455 (US$10,000) a year over normal incomes. 72% want to start their own business. Some 42% expect to work for themselves while 65% are confident they will experience more financial success than their parents. Sources: Afterpay, Depop, Millennial Branding, Northeastern University.

Growing up with stop-anytime subscriptions like Spotify and Netflix, Gen Z want to maximise flexibility in their lifestyle. They prefer to rent, share or try buy-now, pay-later alternatives to owning everything from clothing and cars to furniture and bikes. The global online clothing rental market was estimated to be worth A$1.62bn (US$1.12bn) in 2018 and is expected to reach a market value of A$4.06bn (US$2.82bn) by the end of 2027 (

But the generation also present a paradox: they buy fast fashion, and also use mega-systems like eBay for convenience. Gen Z are wary of how their data is used, particularly if it is used beyond the core purpose of a service, but accept that it is a necessary evil; they are happy for it to be exchanged in return for a tailored and convenient service.

Discover our Generation Z series on LS:N Global – a look at the nascent trends, behaviours and perspectives of Generation Z, as the world's largest demographic enters adulthood.


“72% want to start their own business. Some 42% expect to work for themselves while 65% are confident they will experience more financial success than their parents”
Sources : Afterpay, Depop, Millennial Branding, Northeastern University.

: Gen Z will feel the effects of the pandemic the most

MARKERAD collection by Ikea and Virgil Abloh

Like Millennials and the financial crash of 2008, Covid-19 will blunt Gen Z’s finances and outlook for years to come. Many have already reported that the pandemic has made them re-assess their spending, making cuts and prioritising savings.

They remain socially minded, and have tried to buy direct from small brands during the pandemic.

A backlash against privilege and the elite is growing, and influencer culture will be drastically altered because of it. Aspirational imagery and elitism have quickly become dépassé.

89% believe it’s necessary for brands to do something to help with Covid-19. 84% believe brands have just as much responsibility as everyone else to help stop the spread (YPulse).

Under-25s were 2.5 times more likely to have been working in a sector adversely affected by the lockdown (Institute for Fiscal Studies).

This is just a snippet of the Gen Z report. Click below to download the full report PDF.

"89% believe it’s necessary for brands to do something to help with Covid-19. 84% believe brands have just as much responsibility as everyone else to help stop the spread"
Source : YPulse

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