Move aside, millennials.
This is the year that Generation Z becomes the biggest consumer cohort globally, displacing millennials as a top obsession for investors trying to figure out how to cash in on their unique shopping, eating and media habits. While they might still be in school, they have spending power to the tune of $143 billion in the U.S. alone, leaving fund managers salivating at the chance to harvest some of that potential alpha.
"Gen Z has their finger on the pulse on the companies that speak to them, that they think are going to grow with them," said Phil Bak, CEO of Exponential ETFs. "Therefore they're probably better suited to pick those investments than some of the more seasoned financial professionals."
Investors have always been interested in young consumers and how their habits might open up new opportunities, but much of the long-held thinking on college kids and tweens—invest in beer stocks or TV networks or junk food—don't hold up today. Gen Z, roughly between the ages of seven and 22, were born after the internet went mainstream and occupy a world where marijuana is going legal. Anything and everything can be delivered to their front door with a swipe of a finger and they grew up on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, where the influencer culture has taken hold.
For investors looking to factor Gen Z into their portfolios, here are some broad trends they may want to consider:
1. They Can Be Influenced
While older millennials graduated college before the rise of Facebook, or even mobile phones, these new consumers live on Instagram and other platforms. In fact, 52 percent said they primarily find out about new products from social media, a jump of 10 percentage points from millennials and double the rate for their Gen X parents, according to a recent survey by Bloomberg News and Morning Consult.