Consider it another form of splurge for the young generation, which represents an oversized share of segment subscribers.
Mystery boxes, where subscribers get “surprised” with items focused around themes ranging from Star Wars to seasonal swag are seeing continued success amongst the youngest segment of adult consumers. Despite Generation Z declining to renew certain subscriptions in an effort to cut costs, they are more likely than any other generation to primarily subscribe to mystery boxes, per “The Impact of Subscription Models on Consumer Choice,” a PYMNTS collaboration with sticky.io.
Not only does a greater share of Gen Z primarily subscribe to mystery boxes than any other generation, but no other type of subscription dominates their attention, as 42% are multi-model (i.e., no one type accounts for 50% or more of their subscriptions) and the next most popular type is the standard retail subscription, which 16% of Gen Z primarily hold. (The standard model is defined in the report as the same items being shipped at regular intervals, and for the same price, such as Amazon’s Subscribe & Save.)
However, as popular as mystery boxes may currently be with Gen Z, their status could soon change as outside variables on the horizon could impact these consumers’ discretionary budgets. These include student loan payment resumption, which could affect borrowing consumers’ income by as much as 10%.
In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, sticky.io CEO Brian Bogosian discussed these headwinds and how mystery boxes, along with other subscriptions popular with younger consumers, may withstand these pressures.
“It is value — and a personalized bundling of offerings — that will ultimately decide whether individuals and households will deem those subscriptions as essential or not as they continue to tighten their collective belts,” Bogosian said. “There’s a lot that’s out of the merchants’ hands right now. We’re entering a very uncertain economic time…[No matter if student loans are part of the monthly obligations or not, consumers have] rent, they’ve got cars and food … and they’re going to be looking at their discretionary spending much more closely.”
Like other discretionary purchases, mystery boxes’ continued popularity with Gen Z is not nearly assured. With 52% of the age cohort already budget constrained and possibly heading into further financial uncertainty, these subscription companies may see their profits vanish without a trace.