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Fetch CEO: Gen Z, millennials use rewards programs to afford ‘little treat’ culture

“Little treat” culture has taken over TikTok. The hashtag #littletreat has amassed 41.4 million views, and video after video shows users justifying their small purchases because they “deserve a little treat.”

Little treats can add up. Consumers, especially millennials and Gen Zers, are turning to rewards programs to help pay for their little luxuries, according to Wes Schroll, CEO of Fetch, a rewards app that enables shoppers to redeem points for gift cards.

  • This is a shift from pre-pandemic times when the majority of Fetch users would save their points to use for a bigger purchase.
  • “What we used to see [was] that a lot of people would save up their points and use them during the holidays for buying gifts,” said Schroll. “Or a lot of times we'd hear that mom was using it to buy pizza for the family or something like that.”

Now, instead of saving up for a two-week vacation or splurging on a big-ticket item, Gen Z and millennial consumers are using their points more frequently to buy smaller purchases like coffee or lunch at Chipotle.

Even though a pumpkin spice latte isn’t exactly like a trip to Greece, “the emotional reward is the same,” said Schroll. “Being able to feel really good about getting a gift that’s more than you would have otherwise budgeted for or that feels like a treat.”

But it’s not all about indulgence. It’s about trying new things, too.

“Gen Z[ers] and millennials are very open to trying new products,” said Schroll. “So a lot of our partners will use Fetch to test new innovations they want to release. And younger demographics are the ones to quickly try them.”

It’s also a way for older brands to reintroduce themselves to a younger generation, said Schroll, maybe using new packaging, flavors, or sizes.

Little treat culture extends into the holidays. Last year, Fetch saw redemption of tech and gaming gift cards spike during the holiday season, as well as cash cards and big-box retail cards, according to Schroll.

Consumers may use these to treat themselves or to get a little something for everyone on their list without breaking the bank.

“I think we’ll see a higher quantity of [gift cards] of lower [dollar] amounts because consumers want to spread [the joy] and [give gifts to] more people rather than just one or two,” said Schroll.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.