5 industries that have been totally transformed by Gen Z

As Gen Z reach adulthood and become a powerful consumer group, their needs, wants and values are having a clear impact across a variety of industries. Brands from food to fashion and far beyond are recognising that they need to adapt to survive, as the influence of this demographic is only set to grow.

Here’s how they have already inspired dramatic change in some of the biggest industries targeting the youth market...


While Millennials experienced the transition from CDs to MP3s to streaming, Gen Z are growing up firmly in the streaming era. For this generation, paying to own a copy of a song or album seems crazy when they’ve always had unlimited access. That access has also made them challenge genre boundaries, inspiring exciting new sounds and collaborations, and disrupt traditional release schedules that no longer make sense.


Gen Z has not just changed the beauty industry, but taken on the beauty standards that have powered it for many years. They have overturned the gender norms that suggested men shouldn’t wear make-up (some of the top beauty bloggers are male or non-binary), and demanded brands take a more ethical, healthy and eco-friendly approach. We’ve also seen the rise of skincare and self-love messaging such as ‘embrace your flaws.’


Getting your driving licence used to be a rite of passage for teens, but concerns about the environment and the cost of having a car mean this is no longer the case. In the US, only around 25% of 16-year olds are getting their license compared to about 50% in 1983. The rise of Uber and Lyft can be linked to this trend, while demand for better public transport options will hopefully encourage improvements in under-served areas.

Fast food

While McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A still rank as 16-24s’ favourite restaurants in the UK and US respectively, fast food brands are under increasing pressure to be more ethical, by considering animal rights, sustainability, and their impact on consumers’ health. Burger King and KFC are among the big names joining the vegan trend by offering plant-based options in collaboration with startups such as Impossible Foods.

Fast fashion

Ecommerce sites like ASOS and Boohoo are a huge hit with the Instagram generation, who are aiming to buy the latest trends at an affordable price, and always have a new look for their social media feed. These brands have responded by releasing hundreds of new products each day. However, concerns over sustainability and workers’ rights could mean another transformation yet to come in this industry.

How will Gen Z impact the future of your industry? Get more insights from the experts at our upcoming youth marketing festival, YMS19 NYC, where speakers will include Instagram, Tinder, Starbucks and Burger King.