The more than 81 million who make up Generation Z are by far, the most tech-savvy generation — at least until we define their successors.
Gen Z arrived with the worldwide web and grew as it did. The internet’s unrelenting need for content to feed its constantly clamoring audience is reflected in Gen Z’s online attitude, according to our research.
This largest and most ethnically diverse generation is growing up with social media embedded in every aspect of their lives. Cyberbullying and social justice are normal parts of their online existence. Over two-thirds say they use social media to express themselves. In what we are calling the “Snapchat Effect,” Gen Z is using this channel to alter their looks to feel better about themselves, with higher frequency among African-Americans and Asians. It’s no wonder over 60% of Gen Z agreed when asked if everyday people can be “brands.” There were slightly higher percentages again from African-Americans and Asians.
This generation, which we define as being born between 1995 and 2015, is participating in making “normal people” become huge successes through social media. Whether it’s on YouTube or Instagram, Gen Z witnesses and even has a hand in propelling relative unknowns into overnight sensations. Like Dude Perfect water bottle flippers with over 58 million views on YouTube! Or Salt Bae, the Turkish chef whose Instagram video has been viewed nearly 15 million times since January.
This generation realizes that their posts, comments and shares are perpetuating brands on their own. They also see the pitfalls these social media stars make. Over 30% of Gen Z said they don’t see social media influencers as good role models. But the flip side means the majority are affected by these social media influencers.
And while Gen Z sees that they are a “Brand Me” on social media, there are many teens who hide their brands behind “Finsta” accounts (fake Instagram accounts) that allow them to mask their identities using made up names (handles) as well as engaging in deviant behavior or cyberbullying while remaining anonymous — at least until they get caught. The implications at schools and to parents are quite troubling.
The pressures of social media are truly affecting Gen Z and it is a balance of good and bad. Marketers can capitalize on Gen Z’s desire to be their own brand with the right insights and quick action, because “Brand Me” changes fast.