The 10 Most Popular Stocks With Each Generation (Some of Which Might Surprise You)

Although investing is something anyone in any generation can take part in, each generation invests in stocks differently. Here’s how it breaks down.
Last updated May 13, 2021 | By Lance Cothern
10 Most Popular Stocks by Generation (Some of These Might Surprise You)

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The investing world has changed at an intense pace over the past decade. Apps are changing how we invest and technology also presents new data to analyze. One interesting data point is which stocks are the most popular among different generations.

As you’d imagine, each generation has different investing goals, risk tolerances, and ideas formed by their experiences both personally and while investing. This can translate into differences in the stocks each generation is choosing to purchase. So what is your generation buying? And do other generations know something you don’t?

To see the answers, here’s a list of the most popular stocks each generation invests in.

In this article

Key findings

We took a deep look at Apex Clearing’s Apex Next Q4 2020 Investor Outlook report and pulled out the most interesting and relevant information, in our opinion. Here are the key findings we came away with:

  • Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers all have the same three companies in their top three holdings: Apple, Tesla, and Amazon.
  • All generations own seven of the same stocks as part of their top 10 holdings, though the ranking orders differ.
  • Baby boomers are the only generation more likely to hold Apple than Tesla.
  • Gen Z is more likely to hold Disney than any other generation.
  • Gen X holds Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares more often than any other generation.
  • Millennials are less likely than every other generation to own AT&T stock.

Gen Z

For the purposes of this study, Gen Z is defined as people born after 1986. Their top 10 holdings (as a percentage of holdings within the top 100 stocks held by Gen Z) include:

  1. Tesla (TSLA) - 17.9%
  2. Apple (AAPL) - 14.0%
  3. Amazon (AMZN) - 7.5%
  4. NIO (NIO) - 4.4%
  5. Disney (DIS) - 3.2%
  6. Microsoft (MSFT) - 3.0%
  7. Nvidia (NVDA) - 1.7%
  8. Netflix (NFLX) - 1.7%
  9. Facebook (FB) - 1.5%
  10. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - 1.5%

Between electric car markers, digital marketplaces, streaming companies, and computer hardware companies, technology stood at the forefront of Gen Z’s investment choices. Gen Z also favored struggling travel stocks higher than any other generation. Even so, none of these stocks cracked the top 10 holdings for millennials.

Millennials

In this study, millennials were defined as born from 1981 to 1996. Their top 10 holdings (as a percentage of holdings within the top 100 stocks held by millennials) include:

  1. Tesla (TSLA) - 20.4%
  2. Apple (AAPL) - 10.9%
  3. Amazon (AMZN) - 7.3%
  4. NIO (NIO) - 4.4%
  5. Microsoft (MSFT) - 2.9%
  6. Disney (DIS) - 2.1%
  7. Facebook (FB) - 2.1%
  8. Alibaba (BABA) - 1.8%
  9. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - 1.8%
  10. Nvidia (NVDA) - 1.6%

In the fourth quarter of 2020, millennials increased their holdings in vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer, likely related to coronavirus vaccines. As with Gen Z, the top 10 companies all deal with technology or taking advantage of technology’s newer offerings in one way or another.

Gen X

Apex Clearing defines Gen X as being born from 1965 to 1980. Their top 10 holdings (as a percentage of holdings within the top 100 stocks held by Gen X) include:

  1. Tesla (TSLA) - 17.6%
  2. Apple (AAPL) - 15.7%
  3. Amazon (AMZN) - 7.9%
  4. NIO (NIO) - 3.9%
  5. Microsoft (MSFT) - 2.8%
  6. Facebook (FB) - 2.5%
  7. Netflix (NFLX) - 1.9%
  8. Nvidia (NVDA) - 1.9%
  9. Alibaba (BABA) - 1.6%
  10. Disney (DIS) - 1.6%

Gen X was the only generation to hold two major telecom companies in their top 20 holdings, with both Verizon and AT&T making appearances. They also held more Berkshire Hathaway stock than any other generation as a percentage of total holding. It came in just outside this list in 11th place. As with their counterpart generations, technologically savvy companies dominated their top 10 holdings.

Baby boomers

Baby boomers were born in 1946 through 1964, according to this study. Their top 10 holdings (as a percentage of holdings within the top 100 stocks held by baby boomers) include:

  1. Apple (AAPL) - 20.6%
  2. Tesla (TSLA) - 9.9%
  3. Amazon (AMZN) - 7.2%
  4. Microsoft (MSFT) - 5.3%
  5. Nvidia (NVDA) - 2.1%
  6. Facebook (FB) - 2.0%
  7. AT&T (T) - 1.7
  8. NIO (NIO) - 1.7%
  9. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - 1.6%
  10. Netflix (NFLX) - 1.5%

The baby boomer generation held AT&T nine spots higher than any other generation. Their top 10 holdings were similarly filled with companies taking advantage of technology and the internet in one way or another. Baby boomers held two financial institutions in their top 20 holdings, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, something no other generation did.

How you can get started in investing

Getting started in investing can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If the concept of investing is entirely new to you, take some time to learn the basics. You could read a free book from the library or explore a brokerage firm’s website for detailed guides on investing concepts.

The popular investing app Robinhood provides great resources to help beginners learn everything from what is an investment to options trading essentials. Robinhood’s app focuses on trading stocks and other investments, so keep that in mind when reading this information.

Similarly, Betterment is another service that offers an investing basics series. Betterment focuses on long-term investing through exchange-traded funds, so this could provide an alternative view to Robinhood’s material.

If you’re looking for a place to start investing in stocks, consider starting with one of the best investment apps. These apps often make it easy for beginners. Stock and ETF investing apps such as Robinhood and Stash don’t require you to have a lot of money to get started either.1

Robo-advisors take this one step further and manage your portfolio on your behalf automatically by harnessing technology. This can be an excellent option for someone who wants to invest but doesn’t want to dig into the details. Robo-advisors ask you questions about your goals and risk tolerance and then build a portfolio that fits your needs.

If you’re already more established in the investing world but want to start taking investing more seriously, you may want to examine the best brokerage accounts. Traditional brokerage firms might not be on the cutting edge of trends and technology, but they usually offer more investment options and account types to suit specific needs and financial goals. Firms such as Fidelity and Vanguard fit into this category.

After you open an account, whatever kind you choose, the key then is actually investing. Don’t put off the task. Instead, start investing as soon as you feel comfortable and can financially afford to do so. Consider setting up recurring investments to build a strong investing habit.

FAQs

What stocks are millennials buying?

In the fourth quarter of 2020, more than 35% of millennials’ holdings were in just three companies, according to digital wealth management company Apex Clearing. They were Tesla, Apple, and Amazon. These trends change over time, though. According to TD Ameritrade in 2015, the top three most held stocks by millennials were Apple, Facebook, and General Electric.

What percentage of millennials own stocks?

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, only 35% of those under age 35 invest in the stock market. Although this data includes millennials and Gen Z, the numbers show that almost two-thirds of people under age 35 didn’t own any stock.

Surprisingly, 55% of people under age 35 had held stocks in 2001 and 2002. Although correlation doesn’t represent causation, the market crash in 2008 likely had a profound impact on these investors.

Will retiring baby boomers crash the stock market?

Many people are concerned that baby boomers retiring could lead to a stock market crash. This theory’s idea is that baby boomers will move from riskier assets, such as stocks, to less risky assets, such as bonds, when they retire.

Baby boomers started reaching the traditional retirement age of 65 in 2011. Despite this first decade of the baby boomer generation retiring, the stock market as a whole continues to climb. Baby boomers will continue reaching the traditional retirement age through 2029, so it’s still too early to rule out this theory completely. However, the 10 years of experience so far show this fear may be overhyped.

What stocks should a beginner buy in 2021?

Beginner investors often wonder where to start with stocks. And it’s easy to want someone to point to a list of the best stocks for beginners. But the truth is the smartest stocks for you will vary based on your goals and financial situation.

Using the best investment apps or services that help assess your goals, risk tolerance, and investing habits could be a great place to start. If you want to invest in the stock market without owning individual stocks, one of the best robo-advisors might be able to easily help you find a portfolio that meets your needs.


Bottom line

Each generation invests in different ways based on their life experiences and their history with the stock markets. Younger investors may still be feeling the market crash of 2008, whereas baby boomers can see more of the long-term benefits of investing.

But in general, most generations tend to invest in the same large companies that dominate the top 10 lists of holdings. Apple, Tesla, and Amazon appear as the top three holdings of all four generations.

Although top 10 lists are helpful for general knowledge and inspiration, they shouldn’t be used as a guideline for what to invest in. Your holdings don’t have to mimic those of others in your generation. Instead, think critically about your goals and what investments can help you reach those goals.

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Author Details

Lance Cothern Lance Cothern, CPA is a personal finance writer and founder of MoneyManifesto.com. Lance's work covering several personal finance topics has been published in U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Credit Karma, Investopedia, and several other publications.