Here’s How Generation Z Is “Living Their Best Life”

While many of us struggle with inflation in our daily lives, savvy Generation Z consumers are finding ways to live the life they want on the limited budgets of those just starting their careers.

Sofia is a 24-year-old college graduate sharing a one-bedroom apartment in New York City with two roommates. Working hybrid for an advertising agency, she earns $40,000 a year – not much to live on in an expensive city. Sofia’s daily goal is to keep her personal spending footprint as lean as her carbon footprint.

Sofia believes she is “living her best life” on a tight budget. To make it work, Sofia (and 73% of other Gen Zers) use apps as the key to the lifestyle they choose – for travel, food, transportation, apparel and more. On a typical weekday, Sofia commutes to work by Citi Bike (Lyft), purchases apparel on consignment (Thredup), plans a weekend getaway (Airbnb) and scans local restaurants for a “residual” meal (Too Good To Go).

Nearly 50% of newly employed Gen Zers live paycheck-to-paycheck in an economy with inflation at its highest level in decades. But they are deeply concerned about global warming as well as the cost of living, and Gen Z does not want to sacrifice sustainability for affordability.

Hyperconnected members of Generation Z are able to “live their best life” thanks to the sharing economy while saving the planet and supporting the circular economy. They rely on apps to access the recycled and shared products and experiences that fit their personal preferences and meet three requirements. They must be:

  • Ethically sustainable
  • Economical; and
  • Trustworthy.

Two examples of brands that are highly successful with Generation Z deliver these three requirements at the right time.

Generation Z loves to travel, and Airbnb has become their most trusted travel brand by offering the kind of “sustainable” accommodations sought by younger travelers. Growing up in a sharing economy, Airbnb resonates with Gen Z because the platform delivers an affordable, unique, more localized and less commercialized travel experience than traditional hotels. Generation Z is Airbnb’s fastest-growing segment.

Airbnb’s platform has arrived in perfect synchronicity with Gen Z’s recent surge in traveling. According to Gen Z travel statistics, 71% plan to travel more—or at least the same amount—in 2022. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Z are planning “revenge travel” after the pandemic, making up for time lost at zoom school for the past two years. Research indicates older members of Gen Z are traveling every chance they have – on both personal and work trips. Before the pandemic, in 2019 6.2 million students crossed borders for higher education. The ability to WFA (Work from Anywhere) is enabling Gen Z to take trips and has redefined “semesters abroad” previously not taken due to Covid. Hotels are trying to compete with Airbnb in the Gen Z space by creating new chains (such as Marriott’s Moxie) to offer the unique, customized experience that resonates with younger travelers.

Too Good To Go

Generation Z loves to eat. They have become a cohort of adventurous yet discerning “foodies” who define and express themselves based on their individual eating preferences, such as vegan or pescatarian. Like Airbnb, Too Good To Go resonates with Gen Z because they provide what Gen Z seeks in today’s market:  a high quality product and experience that is sustainable, economical and trustworthy.

But healthy, sustainable, and wholesome foods can be very expensive (For example, shopping at Whole Foods can mean “Whole Paycheck” to younger shoppers). Apps like Too Good To Go are built around a community of “Waste Warriors”. This platform allows Gen Z consumers (and anyone with a phone) to buy food they want at a discounted price without sacrificing quality and sustainability for affordability.

Such apps give Gen Z foodies the ability to eat well and reduce waste by reducing the excess supply generated by the food industry. Gen Z’s dedication to saving the planet also drives their demand for sustainable foods that are both prepared and served in a planet-friendly manner. Gen Z is very concerned about food waste and its impact on global warming. In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. Two-thirds of young Europeans believe that our current food system is destroying the planet.

Here’s how Too Good To Go works. You download the app, enter your zip code, and see which local restaurants and food suppliers offer residual (leftover) foods on that day.  You sign up to receive a “Surprise Bag” of residual foods for an average price of $4.99. Bakeries and pizzerias are very popular. Thousands of (mostly) Gen Z consumers are sharing the contents of their “Surprise Bags” on TikTok, revealing exactly what foods they got and at what price.


too good to go is finally in LA and life is suddenly good #toogoodtogo #foodwaste #vegan

♬ original sound – mei eldridge

These digital experts have figured out how to “live their best life” by obtaining what they want while saving both money and the planet. Gen Z is strengthening the circular economy by sharing and recycling as many consumer goods and services as possible.

With TikTok and social media, Generation Z has the spending (and sharing) power to make or break a brand within minutes. These young consumers can be a brand’s fastest-growing segment if it can deliver products and services that meet their three requirements. A brand can also strengthen its appeal by supporting social justice issues, such as providing food and housing for those who are truly underserved (see for an example.)

In 2022, young consumers around the world are sharing homes, cars, bicycles, foods, pets, swimming pools and much more with complete strangers. I cannot wait to see what this generation shares next. Time to brainstorm…




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