The next generation after the millennials obviously has to be given a name by marketers, and Gen Z seems as good as any. What eMarketer is reporting, however, is far more interesting than what executives are calling 16- to-23-year-olds. This generation of "centennials," as they are always being called, lives and breathes social media. What's more, they are turning assumptions on their heads.
First of all, Facebook is used only slightly less among Gen Z than millennials -- that's three in four compared to four in five. So that tiresome line about the youth that have ditched Facebook really does need to be put to bed right now. In fact, Gen Z and millennials are nearly twice as likely to be on Facebook as Gen X -- that's those of us who were born to baby boomers.
And here's another surprise. Gen Z could be about to save Twitter. Yes, that's right -- the social media channel that was supposed to be the preserve of the middle-aged, and no doubt, media professionals, is huge with the kids. Nearly half of Gen Z is using Twitter, compared to just over a third of millennials and Gen Xers.
As you would imagine, use of Snapchat and Instagram is led by Gen Z. More than half of 16- to-23-year-olds using the picture-led media, which is nearly twice as much as anyone older than a millennial. When it comes to Snapchat, the new exciting kid on the block, 56% of Gen Z are on there using the newly floated service, compared to 20% of millennials. And with nearly three in four of Gen Z glued to YouTube, they are by far the leading demographic on Google's video site.
So what are we to make of these latest insights brought to us via a BBC piece of research carried out by Ipsos MORI?
Well, what we were kind of thinking was true of millennials is mostly along the right lines, other than the fact that four in five of them love Facebook, making them the heaviest users of a the social platform that trendy executives will tell you they've dumped. But more interestingly, whatever we think of millennials, you can turn the dial up for Gen Z. They are the heaviest users of Twitter and YouTube and very nearly Facebook too (only millennials outrank them, although they were supposed to have ditched the social network and left it for us oldies). No surprise to hear that they are far and away leading use of Snapchat and Instagram and aren't really bothering with LinkedIn yet.
So, sometimes, just sometimes, it helps to counter received wisdom and the throw away lines at media conferences with some actual research. Far from ditching Facebook and Twitter, Gen Z are almost certainly securing their futures at the same time that they are providing a willing market for newer picture-led services.