Gen Z Consumers Pull Back on Connected Devices 

Connected device ownership may be on the rise, but younger consumers are paring down the number of smart products they own, PYMNTS Intelligence research reveals.

By the Numbers

The PYMNTS Intelligence study “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers” surveyed more than 4,600 U.S. consumers to learn how they are using connected devices and apps in their everyday lives.

The results reveal a surprising trend regarding Gen Z consumers and their ownership of these devices: despite the widespread proliferation of technology in households, Gen Z seems to be bucking the trend. The report highlights a decrease in the average number of connected devices owned by Gen Z from 5.3 in 2019 and 2020 to 5.0 in 2023. This subtle decline is juxtaposed against the population-wide average, which saw a modest increase from 5.0 in 2019 and 2020 to 5.1 in 2023.

Digging In

Several factors might contribute to this phenomenon. One possible explanation could be a shift in preferences or lifestyle choices among Gen Z individuals. As digital natives, they may prioritize quality over quantity, opting for fewer but more sophisticated devices that offer enhanced functionality and connectivity.

As Synchrony Vice President of Innovation and Development Mike Storiale told PYMNTS in a 2022 interview, “Gen Z is really changing the shopping landscape as we know it. They’re shopping online differently. They’re using things like TikTok to search for the products. There are 7.3 million Gen Z workers in the U.S. already. When people look at Gen Z and think they are a small group, that’s certainly not the case.”

Additionally, the decrease in connected device ownership among this demographic could signify a growing awareness of the potential drawbacks associated with excessive device usage, such as screen-time fatigue or concerns about privacy and data security.

Another PYMNTS Intelligence study from 2023 found that 40% of U.S. consumers reported data protection as a top concern while shopping online, citing it as either the most important or “very or extremely important.”