Snapchat has one key message for Cannes attendees: Brands and marketers need to learn how they can work with Gen Z, instead of creating content for them.
That’s according to two different partnered studies Snapchat worked on, one with JWT Intelligence at Wunderman Thompson and the other with GlobalWebIndex. Both highlight the growing digital power of Gen Z, with the JWT report, titled “Into Z Future,” calling out the generation’s creativity skills and how they tap into different mediums to express themselves.
Amy Moussavi, global head of consumer insights at Snapchat, is presenting the JWT report at Cannes—on a panel with Lucie Greene, worldwide director of JWT Intelligence at Wunderman Thompson; Piera Gelardi, founder and ecd at Refinery 29; Jennifer Say, global CMO at Levi Strauss & Co.; and Amanda de Cadenet, founder and CEO of GirlGaze.
“We’ve found [that] they’re using tools like Snapchat and other platforms as a form of self-expression and creativity,” Greene. “It’s more of making something new, communicating, playing with their image rather than it being about vanity.”
For example, the JWT report, which surveyed 1,208 members of the Gen Z cohort, ages 13-22, in the U.S. and U.K. from May 2-7 this year, found that 48% use their free time to work on something creative, such as making digital art or memes, and while 56% use social apps to express themselves, 46% say they’re doing it because it’s a passion—as opposed to creating a “personal brand.” Thirty-five percent said they use Snapchat because of its creative tools to edit photos or create art, compared to 29% who said they use Instagram, 23% who use Photoshop, 12% that dabble in iMovie and the 8% that use VSCO.
On Snapchat, some of that creativity manifests itself into the company’s AR lenses. The company rolled out Lens Studio in 2017 to everyone, enabling anyone to create a lens. According to the report, 400,000 community lenses have been created and downloaded, with Snapchatters using them 15 billion times.
“Snapchat is this creative hub for Gen Z,” said Moussavi. “[At] Cannes, our message is that Gen Z is the future. We really do want to partner with brands to help plan for the future with Snapchat.”
The report looks at the different ways Gen Zers are using lenses to express themselves, from Blake Burford, who creates fun lenses around trending brands, to Tyler Woodford, a British trans teen who created lenses around sexuality to help people share whatever identity they resonated with.
“I find that Snapchat is a bigger community of people who are accepting and forward-thinking,” Woodford said in the report.
Aside from lenses, Gen Z is using social apps as a place to crowdsource submissions for print zines, in the case of Remi Riordan, or to sell their art on Depop via links, which is what Stephanie Spook does. This generation is also using their platforms for social causes and don’t keep their skills to a single platform. Ultimately, the report draws seven major conclusions that show how Gen Z is unlike any other generation before them and why brands and marketers need to adapt to them.
“If you are a marketer creating any kind of visual campaign packaging or platform, you need to completely understand how they are creating their own visual platform already,” Greene said. “The hacking and adapting of [apps shows] they want brands to move with them and as fast as them. They’re a super sophisticated generation and one brands should think about co-creating with, rather than creating stuff for them.”
Snapchat’s other partnered report, with GlobalWebIndex, looks at Gen Z through a different lens: mobile behavior. According to this report, Gen Z, on average, spent four hours and 15 minutes per day on their phone in 2018, making it the most out of all generations—a stat that makes sense considering 97% own a smartphone. Seventy-eight percent consider mobile as the most important way to get online as opposed to other devices and compared to previous generations. For example, 90% use it to access a search engine and 43% use it to watch streaming services.
Looking at Gen Z more broadly, 41% said they’re “easily swayed” by their peers’ opinions. That might explain why Gen Z looks like they’re taking better care of themselves, since the generation underindexes on soft drinks, cookies and frozen food, and 15% of Gen Zers ages 18-22 outside of the U.S. said they drink alcohol compared to the 28% of millennials and 38% of baby boomers that do. However, they’re a bit more cynical on the world, with 27% not feeling too positive about the future of the environment.
Although this study focuses less on how Gen Z is using Snapchat, Moussavi said it fits into Snap’s overall strategy of looking at younger generations to forecast future trends.
“This really is the mobile generation,” Moussavi said. “We really want to highlight the ways Gen Z is being creative and how brands should think about embedding Gen Z within all the work that they do.”