Gen Z hit hard by the cost-of-living squeeze with nearly half dependent on parental support and loans for tech buys


Students are feeling financial pressure due to the cost-of-living squeeze with 40% depending on parental support and loans, according to a new Tech Report from UNiDAYS, the Student Affinity Network.1

Rising prices have led to one in four students feeling financially insecure, meaning that expenditure on goods deemed to be non-essential has fallen. This becomes especially apparent when analysing Gen Z expenditure on tech items.

The findings suggest that over half (51%) of UK students spent nothing of their monthly expenditure on tech. While students still prefer to buy tech items outright, the number of UK students buying items independently such as tablets fell by 10% from 2020 to 2022 as many turned to their family for help with payment. 

And, alongside the fall in expenditure, Gen Z are also spending less time researching the products they are purchasing – a trait which goes against the traditionally ‘savvy’ nature of the demographic. This is reflected in the 7% fall in Gen Z consumers researching products on YouTube before purchasing since 2020. 

While typically, UK students browse for tech items in-store and purchase online, since 2020 there has been a 12% boost in TVs purchased in-store, demonstrating a significant change in consumer habits. 

Less surprisingly amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis, Gen Z have maintained a keen eye for a bargain, with 40% actively looking for offers/discounts; over one quarter (29%) actively wait for a discount before making a purchase. For brands this means that incorporating a year-round pricing strategy can be lucrative – helping to drive brand affinity with Gen Z. 

Alex Gallagher, Chief Strategy Officer at UNiDAYS says: “Driving affinity with Gen Z, a generation with a $200 billion annual global spend power, is crucial for brands in the current climate, especially given that 60% of Gen Z have admitted that their brand loyalties have changed since the start of the pandemic.”

“Despite student expenditure on non-essential items decreasing, there is a clear opportunity for brands to resonate with Gen Z by adopting the right pricing strategy. Gen Z are connecting with brands offering discounts and offers on their tech products. Brands that take the right pricing approach will capture the attention of this savvy demographic, as well as generation Alpha who are in a similar financial predicament.”


UNiDAYS survey informed by panel of 3057 Gen Z students across the UK, US and AU, conducted in April 2022.

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