These Were Our 5 Most-Read Articles of 2019…
E-girls and VSCO girls, the future of advertising, and Gen Z and Millennials’ coolest brands are some of the most-read YPulse articles of the year…
It’s the last day of 2019, and we’re looking back at the last year to find out what stories about Gen Z and Millennials were most valuable to our readers. This year, our most popular content gave an inside look at young consumers’ interests and passions—from social media to offline pursuits—as well as the brands they actually think are cool. Here are the top 5 most-read articles of the year:
Every generation has its aesthetic cliques, devoted to standing out from everyone except their like-minded peers. Think: punks, goths, emo kids, greasers, etc. The generation that grew up on social media is no different, but the internet has allowed these cliques to take a larger stage in the pop culture conversation than ever. Even “normies” (AKA normal people) follow their accounts for fashion inspiration or just to curate some unique aesthetics into their social media feeds. Plus, those that stand out aren’t ostracized these days; instead, they’re celebrated. We found in our trend Unique is the New Cool that 74% of 13-17-year-olds think that being the same as everyone else is boring. They’ve applied these opinions to their personal style, with 71% of teens telling us in our Shopping & Fashion report that they like to dress in their own, unique style. This new mindset has allowed new cultural niches to flourish, and since likes and views are the highest status symbol available in the world of social media—they’re becoming Gen Z’s top online celebrities and influencers, all because they’re not afraid to stand out. Meet the E-Girls, Instagram Baddies, and VSCO girls.
A lot of attention is paid to how much time young consumers are spending on their screens—binge watching shows, scrolling through social media, posting videos online, etc. We devote a lot of ink to Gen Z and Millennials’ digital pastimes at YPulse as well, monitoring their social media use, media consumption, and online trends on the regular. After all, these are vital pieces of information for brands trying to reach them. But focusing only on their online pursuits doesn’t paint a full picture of their lives, or their interests. To keep a balanced view of what it’s like to be young today, we also make sure to check in with these generations on the issues and pastimes that really matter to them—and what they really want to be doing in their free time. In our recent survey on their hobbies and passions, we asked 13-36-year-olds, “What is your biggest hobby?” First, according to our qualitative responses, about 80% of Gen Z and Millennials have at least one hobby. The most popular? Music, or playing an instrument.
We’ve known for some time that young consumers are watching more Netflix than cable every week. Our most recent media consumption monitor survey found that 68% of 13-36-year-olds are watching content on Netflix weekly, compared to 22% who are watching cable/satellite. We’ve called Gen Z and Millennials the post-TV and ad-skipping generations—and their love of Netflix shelters them from traditional advertising in a way that many brands have been unprepared for. In fact, 74% of young consumers tell YPulse that they use streaming services to avoid ads. Netflix is well-aware of their status as a commercial-free haven. This year, they sent a “savage” tweet during the Golden Globes that took aim at traditional media, quipping: “shoutout to everyone who is watching commercials for the first time in several months.” So how are brands supposed to reach these binge-loving, cord-cutting young viewers? Obviously, social media and online video have become vital parts of marketing to Gen Z and Millennials partly because of their streaming habits. But now a new future of advertising in the Netflix-era is taking shape. Stranger Things marketing is proving that brands can still reach young consumers through their favorite shows, even when they don’t have a commercial break. Brand collaborations and co-branded merchandise are the biggest piece of the puzzle.
Fame has never been more fragmented—or more fluid. Young TikTok stars are earning mainstream cred and fans in the wake of their viral notoriety. YouTube star Lilly Singh is getting her own NBC late show. Last month, Vice reported that A-list celebrities are now vlogging on YouTube to connect with young fans who grew up watching online content more than traditional content. Major musicians comment on online celebrity antics, while those online stars rack up millions upon millions of views and likes. Figuring out who is really popular among young consumers has gotten trickier than ever before. To see how every kind of famous figure stacks up against one another in the minds of Gen Z and Millennials, our most recent celebrity and influencer survey asked 13-37-year-olds, “Who is your favorite famous person? A famous person could be a movie star, YouTuber, athlete, musician, Instagrammer, TV star, etc.” With this broad definition in mind, they told us their favorite celebrities—and over 500 individuals were named. The sheer number of responses, and the most popular celeb ranking, reveal some major differences between Gen Z and Millennials. The youngest Gen Z consumers were most likely to name an online celebrity as their favorite famous person, while older Millennials were most likely to name a Hollywood celebrity.
According to YPulse’s research, 88% of young consumers think that brands try too hard to be cool. “Cool” can be a tricky thing to chase, and when attempts to be cool come off as inauthentic, Gen Z and Millennials are quick to call it out. Just look at the the Twitter account @BrandsSayingBae, which chronicles all the times a “corporation tweets like a teenager,” for the entertainment of 41.8K followers. Trying to be cool often falls flat—so what brands are actually succeeding to be viewed as cool in the eyes of young shoppers right now? We checked in on the YPulse youth brand tracker to find out. The continuous tracker monitors young consumers’ perceptions of over 400 brands, measuring a variety of dimensions, including which brands then think are cool. Here are some of the top brands that Gen Z and Millennials don’t think are trying too hard, and actually see as cool right now. Content rules for young consumers. YouTube tops the list for Gen Z and Netflix is second only to Nike (their perpetual favorite) on Millennials’.