11 Aug 2023Read of the weekRead of the week: Gen Y and Z turn to ‘little treats’

Gen Yers and Zers are finding creative ways to cope with economic anxiety and stress as treat culture becomes a go-to coping mechanism. Many are indulging in small purchases to bring a sense of escapism, self-care, and relief into their daily lives, a term the internet has coined ‘little treats’.

J’Nae PhillipsJ'Nae Phillips is an Insights Editor at Canvas8. After an early career working in fashion and media, her passion for culture and journalism grew and she made the transition to writing and editing full-time. She specialises in fashion, trends, cultural shifts and all of the good stuff that gets people talking.

From iced coffees and Diet Cokes to bagels and beyond,  little treats are acting as incentives to keep Gen Y and Gen Z going as they battle through the daily grind. Younger cohorts are buying themselves small, affordable things as a way to stay productive and motivated throughout the day, and it's part of a unique coping mechanism they've developed — a delayed gratification approach to consumption.

During times of economic uncertainty and increasing anxieties about the future, people still want to ease their worries and treat themselves without breaking the bank. In the UK, 49% of adults who were behind on bills reported a high anxiety score. And in the US 77% of Americans report feeling anxious about their financial situation. But despite these statistics, 62% of survey respondents said that they “treat themselves” more now than ever before.

The little treats trend is also a subtle rebellion against hustle culture and ‘rise and grind’ work mentalities as it challenges the idea that rewards should only come after an immense amount of hard work. Instead, this trend provides people with a small moment of joy and release during their day, regardless of their accomplishments. Whether it's a new book, a fancy latte, or a cute accessory, people are turning to little treats to lift their spirits and celebrate the small pleasures in life.