Teen Spending Up, Interest in Plant-Based Down

Teens are spending more money (+9%) and food is a top priority, according to Piper Sandler’s Taking Stock with Teens Spring 2022 survey.

With these themes in mind, below are key findings that food industry leaders should keep in mind when targeting the teenage demographic:


Though the plant-based meat category continues to boom in popularity, teens seem to be less interested.

The survey found that 43% either eat plant-based meat or are willing to, down from 47% last fall and 49% in the spring of 2021. Of the teens who don’t eat plant-based meats, 34% said they were willing to try it, down from 38% in the fall.

These were unexpected findings, according to Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery, who analyzed the survey results (Barron’s, April 6).

“This survey’s results may yet prove to be a bit of a blip, but they serve as a reminder not to take younger consumers for granted,” Lavery wrote.


Chick-fil-A kept its No. 1 spot as the most popular restaurant with teens. It was followed by Starbucks, Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’.

Chick-fil-A also earned a 16% share of wallet in the survey, up two percentage points from the last survey.


Fifty-three percent of teens named Amazon as their preferred e-commerce site. For several years, Amazon has remained at slightly over 50% among teens in the survey, according to a report from RetailWire (April 12).

“The category dominance in the teen segment is underappreciated, in our view,” wrote Piper Sandler in the study. “Prime adoption and the maturation of the teen cohort should serve as a powerful tailwind for many years to come.”

Cowen’s “Gen Z and Millennial Consumer Survey” released last fall also found that Amazon ranked as the top site Gen Z and Millennial consumers use to research products as well as the top channel that social media consumers use to purchase a newly discovered brand’s product.


Here are some other notable findings from the report:

  • For payment apps, Apple Pay ranked first, partly due to 87% of teens in the survey saying they have an iPhone
  • Venmo ranked No. 2 behind Apple Pay among payment apps used in the last month, while Cash App ranked No. 3
  • For buy now pay later, teens said they used PayPal “Pay in 4” most frequently, followed by Afterpay
  • Cash is the most penetrated payment method, with 89% teens saying they used cash in the past month
  • While 26% of teens own a VR device, just 5% use it daily. 48% of teens are either unsure or not interested in the Metaverse