With Gen Z growing increasingly savvy, socially conscious, and digitally minded, media companies are throwing out the rule books to reach them in new ways. Here are six new media brands targeting teens…
When Teen Vogue went woke in the wake of the 2016 election, young consumers rejoiced. The fashion magazine threw out the teen media playbook and began covering heavy-hitting topics like politics, sexuality, race, cultural appropriation, and more. The Millennials at the helm of the publication evolved its pages—and digital strategy—to fit the “savvier and more socially conscious” teen of today. The move generated huge audience growth across its digital platforms, but it also effectively shifted the landscape of teen-targeted media. Where teenybopper aesthetics and content once reigned supreme, brands are now contending with a generation raised to pay attention and think big, and the “Teen Vogue effect” has spread. Seventeen followed in the magazine’s footsteps by targeting issue-conscious teens, and despite being 74-years-old, the magazine is still reeling in readers—though mostly on digital channels. The publication boasts an audience of nearly 12 million, and its Snapchat Discover channel accrued over 10 million monthly unique views in November of last year. For print, the bimonthly publication still circulates to about two million readers.
But of course, reaching young consumers today isn’t just about magazines—or the substance of the content for that matter. In fact, as magazine sales drop, many titles have responded by cutting back on print (or cutting it altogether) and focusing instead on creating social-only content like Snapchat pop-up channels and Facebook Live. Newer media companies like AwesomenessTV and Defy Media are forgoing formal channels altogether and reaching young consumers exclusively on platforms like YouTube and Snapchat. Even Teen Vogue was forced to shutter its unprofitable print publication this year, opting instead to beef up its digital presence and release interactive magazine “covers” on Snapchat. But in the midst of this media shakeup, one thing’s for sure: teens still want content, just maybe not in the ways of old. In fact, despite the widespread belief that magazines are going the way of napkins and chain restaurants, we’re seeing new media brands for teens popping up with a growing frequency. Here are six new content creators betting on Gen Z’s attention:
1. Teen Bo$$
Ever wondered how teen stars made it big? WWD reports that a new magazine for business-savvy teens is headed to the newsstands (yes, we said newsstands) to inform young girls just how to get rich by becoming “social media brands.” The magazine will be released quarterly, and will only be available as physical glossies stocking the shelves, with no site to speak of. The magazine will target “business-minded” girls eight-15-years-old, and include features like profiles of real teen business owners, a column by a Shark Tank judge, and cut-out business cards. Though all signs point to the demise of print magazines, Bauer Media Group thinks it’s found a loophole around plummeting newsstand sales by targeting an ultra-niche audience.
Zoe Saldana’s new digital media company BESE wants to give Gen Z (and Millennials) “positive portrayals of the modern Latino experience in America,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. Founded by the Guardians of the Galaxy star, the new brand is hoping to “fill the significant gap” left by a lack of representation in the media—especially considering minorities are now the majority among the next generation. Though 18% of the U.S. population is Latino, less than 1% of news media covers positive stories from their community—leaving Hispanic Millennials and all young adults with overwhelmingly negative images that BESE hopes to correct.
New media company Brat plans to target teens by producing TV right where the generation is already watching: YouTube. The founder’s last startup, which helped brands connect with influencers for ads, sold to Twitter for $50 million and Brat intends to leverage The Influencer Effect, too. The shows will stand out on YouTube with “good production value” and digital talent that already has devoted fans in tow. Brat will look to monetize their content via brand deals down the road, but right now they’re focusing on “mak[ing] Brat into something that young people love and keep returning to,” according to Business Insider.
4. Bunny Ears
On a slightly more sarcastic note—and one that’s likely targeted at Millennials as much as Gen Z—Macaulay Culkin started the new, satirical lifestyle site Bunny Ears that’s being likened to “when Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop intersects with The Onion.” The digital venture also has a YouTube channel and podcast to appeal to young consumers across multiple verticals. The stories play on youth culture, like a riff on the Tide pod phenomenon: “Tide Pod Recipes For The Depressed” or satirizing Practical Magic with pieces like “This Fall’s Must-Haves (According To Pumpkin Spice Tea Leaves).”
Founded by mobile media company Naritiv, WeBuyGold is a new media brand out to conquer the Snapchat universe by making all of its quirky and quippy content on mobile devices. Inspired by the launch of MTV, WeBuyGold is creating three lines of short-form programming: serialized content, documentary-style content, and celebrity features, which aims to pique teens’ interests about a given topic without being exhaustive. The strategy already seems to be working: 10 billion videos are viewed daily on WeBuyGold’s Snapchat.
New quarterly magazine Kookie is on a mission to provide an alternative to the fashion mags of old by offering girls in the U.K. and Australia a “rounded and optimistic sense of who they are and what they could become.” The print-only, ad-free publication targets girls eight-12-year-old with interviews of inspiring women and girls from around the world, profiles of pioneering women in history, and original fiction and comics, as well as content on science, activism, technology, and more. What will not show up on the pages of Kookie? Celebrities, fashion, and beauty tips.