Gen Z stocks aren’t typical, because the generation has a unique relationship with the stock market. Just like Gen Z is the first to grow up fully immersed in digitization and the Internet culture, active market investing and trading is just another fact of life for a sizeable subset. Gen Z effectively grew up with digital investment opportunities facilitated by fractional trading and “gamified” platforms, whereas past generations had a higher barrier to investment entry. Today, more than 50% of Gen Z actively invests money in a taxable brokerage account.
And, just as Gen Z’s approach to investing varies, so too does their collective information collection strategy. Whereas past generations looked to investment experts like paid advisors or popular figures like Warren Buffett for advice, nearly half of Gen Z uses social media as their primary investment information source, with only 30% leveraging a financial professional.
These trends make Gen Z’s favorite stocks slightly different from past generational preferences. Gen Z tends to prefer higher risk/higher reward ventures, buoyed by popular media like Wolf of Wall Street. Identifying these opportunities is one way to ride the Gen Z investing wave. Another is to seek Gen Z stocks centered on generational preferences – what products and services does Gen Z use most or have a bias towards? Anchoring a basket of Gen Z stocks in reliable companies most used by Gen Z can offset the risk associated with more speculative Gen Z stocks.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX)
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX) is a favorite among Gen Z investors because the company blends biotech upside opportunities with a recent winning streak that’s seen shares surge over the past few years. VRTX’s most recent win is a series of positive clinical results for an opioid alternative therapy, which sent shares more than 10% higher after the initial report.
Over the past few years, a series of US opioid crises captured headlines and Gen Z’s collective attention. At the same time, younger generations increasingly know someone addicted to opioids and generally consider the drugs easily accessible. This outlook and experience, coupled with Gen Z’s general conscientiousness, could also contribute to the stock’s popularity among Gen Z investors.
At the same time, though Vertex is priced high, the company’s long-term potential doesn’t just lie in its opioid alternatives. The company’s strategic partnership with gene editing biotech firm Crispr Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP) sets the stage for a new era in healthcare, particularly on the heels of recent successes.
Gen Z Stocks: Starbucks (SBUX)
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) isn’t just a Millennial staple – Gen Z loves the product too. The generation’s “love of iced drinks” drove sales to record highs in recent years with little sign of slowing. Critically, Gen Z’s unique individualization creates an opportunity for Starbucks to offer customized options beyond current offerings, a fact management is leaning into. Founder Howard Schultz specifically called out the opportunity in an interview, saying, “We’re at the early stages with cold beverages in the modifiers and customization, and that gives us a competitive advantage.”
Of course, Starbucks is a top Gen Z stock when it comes to hyper-personalization trends, indicating they know Gen Z demands more from their corporations. The company’s free birthday drink is one such example, but Starbucks’ app leverage creates new vistas for data harvesting that, in turn, customizes and micro-targets sales features to individual customers. The company is also using AI to streamline its Gen Z targeting efforts, indicating that the company is taking advantage of all available advertising opportunities and tech to keep Gen Z buying.
Tilray Brands (TLRY)
Tilray Brands (NASDAQ:TLRY) captures another unique Gen Z trend – a clear preference for cannabis over alcohol. Today, nearly 70% of the generation prefers marijuana rather than alcohol as their intoxicant of choice. As widespread legalization sentiment continues overthrowing state restrictions on its use, expect cannabis stocks like Tilray to surge on the heels of increased Gen Z enthusiasm.
Though there are many cannabis stocks, Tilray is unique in its operational approach. Its cannabis segment, of course, appeals to Gen Z customers favoring that intoxicant over alcohol. But the firm’s inroads into the craft brewing market, typified by a recent purchase of eight brands from Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD), helps it diversify its base. That diversification sets Tilray apart from the competition in a low-margin industry with relatively few material barriers to entry. Craft beer drinkers are right in the older Gen Z/younger Millennial sweet spot, demonstrating the fact that Tilray knows its customers and is actively managing multiple acquisition strategies to capture their cash.
Gen Z Stocks: Walt Disney Co (DIS)
Though Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) shares struggled recently, marking multi-year lows, Gen Z’s love for Mickey and the team creates a unique investment opportunity. More than 40% of Gen Z has a favorable opinion towards the media megalith, making today’s rock bottom pricing an ideal entry point for a potential reversal.
Critically, though the platform’s not been as popular as management hoped, Disney+ effectively stays sustainable on the backs of Gen Z watchers, who comprise most of its viewership. As Disney debates its future streaming service management, including selling off ESPN, the company would be well advised to stick with what’s popular among this Gen Z customer demographic. This could likely take the form of expanded in-app live shopping services, already somewhat facilitated by Disney’s integrated shopping service. But, as Gen Z prefers shopping online to live experiences, expanding this unique sales funnel could make a huge difference for Disney investors.
Uber Technologies (UBER)
S&P 500‘s recent inductee Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) is another stock Gen Z can’t get enough of. More than half of the age demographic downloads more food delivery apps than streaming service platforms, indicating a shift in consumer behavior towards at-home digital services. Online grocery sales are booming in general, and this trend meets Gen Z’s personal shopping preferences to make Uber a top stock based on its Uber Eats platform alone.
At the same time, Gen Z is increasingly disinterested in driving or car ownership. One Gen Z member summed up the generational thesis well, saying: “I haven’t needed one to this point. If there’s an emergency, I’ll call an Uber or 911.” In many cases, Uber is synonymous with ridesharing and a verb in and of itself – indicating the company’s strength among the Gen Z set. As Uber further pivots towards self-driving cars, expect the Gen Z dislike of personal vehicles and interest in emerging tech to converge into a massive investment opportunity in Uber.
Gen Z Stocks: Tesla (TSLA)
Gen Z might not love personal vehicles, but they love Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock. Tesla is consistently a name the generation points to when discussing investment potential, likely an outcome of the stock’s meteoric rise and general resiliency in recent years. The company consistently ranks within the top five stocks Gen Z investors trade most often.
Though Tesla’s global market share slipped, falling behind BYD (OTCMKTS:BYD) in recent weeks, the company’s U.S. dominance is unmatched. Meanwhile, the meme-worthy Cybertruck is a staple of Internet culture, serving as an endless sales funnel as Gen Z attention fixes on the unique vehicle. Tesla has a bumpy road ahead in the short term as competition increases, regulatory oversight changes and new friction is introduced into Musk’s operational model. Still, the company’s omnipresence among Gen Z investors and consumers sets it apart as one of the few companies still securing brand loyalty today.
Meta Platforms (META)
Though Facebook itself is often derided as a gathering spot for Boomers, Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) has a long and fruitful future ahead of itself regarding Gen Z. Though TikTok tends to capture headlines, the fact remains that Meta’s Instagram platform has greater Gen Z market penetration, at 80.9% compared to TikTok’s 71.9%.
But the real win for Meta’s Gen Z initiatives will be sticking the landing on its metaverse concept. Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse might have slowed its momentum recently, but the fact remains that some degree of VR activity will be the norm one day, and Gen Z’s digital native status positions it as an early adopter.
Immersive shopping features, facilitated by a digital ecosystem, are increasingly popular among Gen Z buyers. At the same time, we’ve seen how metaverse-style fashion shows and real estate exploded before falling off due to tech limitations and accessibility concerns. But the market is there, and Meta’s metaverse might be the next juggernaut capturing the new Gen Z virtual reality economy.
On the date of publication, Jeremy Flint held no positions in the securities mentioned. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.