VSCO – What a year 2021 has been. As the world began to open up, people resumed enjoying pre-pandemic joys like singing with their favorite music artists at concerts, cheering in the stands for their favorite sports teams, chatting with friends in the hallways, enjoying art gallery/museum dates, and documenting the world around us. While 2021 wasn’t the full emergence from the pandemic that we’d all hoped for, we did start to see some parts of life return to normal, and found that some pandemic-era routines have found a permanent place in our daily lives.
BAs the year winds down, we wanted to know what’s coming in 2022. To better understand where our community is headed, we surveyed 1,000* Gen Z creators to share where the future of fashion, beauty, community and creativity is headed in the year ahead. Here’s what you had to say:
After months of loungewear, Gen Z is ready to dress up again
Whether they’re getting dressed up for themselves, friends or social media, Gen Z is ready to stun in their looks after two years of dressing for comfort. When asked about their attitude towards fashion, 59% of Gen Z respondents said they plan to get dressed up this upcoming year.
Who were they getting dressed up for? More than a quarter (28% of respondents) said they’d get dressed up on the days that they planned to see other people. 24% of respondents said that even if they didn’t see anyone at all that day, they’re putting an outfit on just for themselves. And 7% said that more than anyone that they’d be seeing in person, they plan to get dressed up just to take photos for social. They’re even completing the look with a filter. SS1, a preset from VSCO’s Street Style Series, was one of the most popular presets of 2021.
56% of respondents said that planning outfits was one of the top ways that they express themselves creatively, so the move away from athleisure and loungewear is no surprise – Gen Z is embracing getting dressed as a creative outlet.
Gen Z finds ways to express themselves through daily activities
Beyond putting together outfits, respondents said that they find outlets for creativity throughout their day.
Almost half (46%) said that taking photos is one of the most frequent ways that they express themselves creatively, and 40% said the same about playing or making music. Nearly a third (31%) journal, and 29% draw or paint.
Less traditional but just as satisfying forms of creative expression include experimenting with new makeup or beauty looks (27% said this is one of their most frequent forms of expression); editing images and videos for social media (26%) and creating video content for social media (16%).
Gen Z’s biggest fashion influences aren’t influencers, it’s their peers
Gen Z’s most important fashion influences are their friends, with 35% of respondents saying that their peers were one of the most impactful influences on how they dress. 28% of respondents said that movie/tv show characters and specific eras in fashion, like the 1990s or early 2000s, were key influences for them. Next were micro-influencers or creators with small followings (27%), editorial content from places like Vogue, Dazed, and Bazaar (24%), bigger influencers like the D’Amelios or Addison Rae (24%), and celebrities like Rihanna or Harry Styles (21%).
When asked about important buying decisions when purchasing clothes, Gen Z respondents prioritized affordability (59%) and sustainability (57%) as their top two options. When asked about their 2022 style resolutions, 45% of Gen Zers would like to prioritize sustainability more in purchasing decisions, 44% want to curate a specific aesthetic/ micro-trend and 43% would like to dress for themselves and ignore trends.
Gen Zs favorite brands are a mix of athletic, retail, celebrity beauty lines and luxury fashion houses.
Community = shared values, not shared physical space
The internet and the past nearly two years of virtual learning & gatherings have made Gen Z culture cross borders – they may be miles apart but laugh at the same videos, share the same content about causes that are important to them, and communicate digitally.
For Gen Z, “community” represents an expansive concept related to one’s own identity, rather than just the immediate people we see and know in our daily lives. 58% of respondents said that community is “the people that I share similar values and interests with and identify as part of a larger group, whether we know each other personally or not, both offline and online.”
Gen Z is the activist generation
More than half of respondents said they support causes that are important to them (including LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s reproductive rights, racial justice) in multiple ways. Some of the most common forms of support:
- 53% support content about causes that are important to them on social platforms
- 53% talk to their family, friends, community members, etc. who have differing positions
- 50% seek out new information about the causes that are important to them to become more informed
- 44% share other peoples’ content that reflects their position on social platforms
- 32% vote for political candidates that share their values
- 30% volunteer with organizations or political reps that share their values
- 29% attend events that support causes that are important to them
- 27% ensure that the companies that they spend money with have similar values
- 19% wear clothing that reflects their values
- 19% donate to organizations or representatives that share their positions
- 16% create content that reflects their positions on social platforms
Only a tiny percentage of respondents (3%) said that they don’t practice any support for any causes.
Goal setting for 2022
When selecting their most important goal for 2022, number one on Gen Z’s list is improving their mental health and wellness. The next top goals are all related to financial and educational pursuits: becoming financially stable, getting a job they’re excited about and graduating from school.
Some habits Gen Z would like to implement in 2022 include exercising regularly (61%), improving work/study habits (57%), eating healthier (53%) and learning/practicing a new creative skill (52%).
What is Gen Z listening to?
Pop music reigns supreme for Gen Z. Some of their top musical artists include –
- Taylor Swift
- Harry Styles
- Doja Cat
- Olivia Rodrigo
- Billie Eilish
- Dua Lipa
- Justin Bieber
Reflecting on all of the exciting VSCO moments from 2021, one of the standouts has to be celebrating 10 years with our amazing creator community around the world. This year also brought us partnerships with Tinashe and Micaiah Carter for the Pasadena music video, to celebrating Pride with Playbill for their Glimmer of Light event, and the Miguel x VSCO challenge.
We’ve also expanded our members’ toolkit by launching the Infrared Series, Dodge & Burn Tool, Remove Tool and Film Effects (FX). Looking ahead to 2022, we will continue to expand our offerings and support creators as they make art that inspires the world.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us, can’t wait to see what you create in 2022.
* 1,000 respondents from ages 14 to 25, conducted for VSCO by JUV Consulting from October 16 to November 9.
Young thought leaders and creatives will share their insights to business professionals on reaching Gen Z consumers.
BET – BET has partnered with Gen Z marketing company JUV Consulting and others to present a digital summit on Sept. 30 for marketing and business professionals.
Dubbed “Coming of Rage,” the summit’s presenters will go beyond traditional business approaches on how to reach Gen Z consumers, who are coming of age in a tumultuous world.
“One does not need to look very hard to see how young voices are fed up with the status quo,” said Ziad Ahmed, JUV Consulting’s co-founder & CEO. “We are watching many young people being included in decision-making conversations for the first time — and we are optimistic about the change that will provoke.
Young thought leaders and Gen Z influencers will share valuable insights about how to turn Gen Z’s rage into change.
According to the Pew Research Center, the oldest Gen Zers were born in 1996, growing up in the Post-9/11 era and at a time of historic political polarization after the election of the nation’s first Black president.
Many of them are on the frontlines fighting against police brutality and injustice, as well as an unprecedented climate crisis.
“#ComingOfRage is here to honor that very idea: that Gen Z is not simply coming of age, we are coming with rage — and we fully intend to fuel our anger into action that makes the world a little bit better,” Ahmed added.
Panels will authentically cover several relevant topics including: the ineffectiveness of performative brand campaigns in the Climate Change, LGBTQ+ Rights, and Racial Justice spaces; How you can’t effectively market to Gen Z without hiring diverse young creatives and putting them behind the wheel; plus outspoken TikTok influencers sharing why the Gen Z video-sharing app is a place for raw expression, and an agent for change.
BET president of media sales Louis Carr will deliver the closing keynote. Other speakers include writer and activist Brea Baker, poet Samuel Getachew, and Co-Founder, Freedom March NYC Chelsea Miller amongst many others.
Research World – Like so many generations before them, Gen Z is having a moment in the spotlight. And as they share their voice and preferences with the market, brands across nearly every industry are paying top-dollar just for a chance to win their business.
Data on their values, behaviors, and habits have become the gold standard. But with so many data points swirling around the internet, generalizations and stereotypes can take hold easily and without much evidence. Gen Z is often painted in broad strokes as a monolithic generation with a liberal mindset and heart for activism. And while it may be true for some, it glosses over so many of the unique attributes of our most diverse generation yet.
So, SightX partnered with JUV, a marketing firm created and run by Gen Zers, to explore some of those perceptions, and differentiate the myths from the data.
The team used the SightX platform to survey a US-based sample of 1,538 respondents that identified as GenZ, between the ages of 14-24. Those respondents came from representative geographic locations and ethnicities in the United States. The survey itself asked respondents multiple-choice questions relating to their top values, important activities, experience with social media, and the ways they develop connections with brands.
Young people don’t just wanna have fun
Values are complex for Gen Z. While they are quite a young group (ranging from 14-25), values like achievement (45%) and security (40%) by and large surpass those like hedonism (17%). But, while there is little doubt that the fallout from the pandemic has affected Gen Z, it’s important to remember—this isn’t their first economic crisis. Many saw a similar scene during the recovery from the Great Recession and witnessed a vast widening in the US wealth gap throughout their lives.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Gen Z is on track to become the most educated generation yet, which comes with a heavy dose of student loan debt.
With all this combined, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that as Gen Z ages, they place a higher value on stability and success. Unlike many of the generations that came before them, it appears they won’t be easily swayed by the siren song of self-indulgence.
Looks aren’t everything
While it’s no secret that Gen Z overwhelmingly prefers visual content (37%) when it comes to learning about brands, there is more to the story than typically reported. It turns out that being authentic (32%) and informative (28%) can work nearly just as well.
It’s imperative for brands to be transparent and communicative, especially when showing support or raising awareness for causes — Gen Z looks to see how brands go about addressing such issues and take this information into consideration when choosing which brands to purchase from.
Gen Z likes to see brands leading the charge and educating their followers on social media. Sharing art or informational graphics on an important topic or event goes a long way with a large segment (41%) of Gen Z respondents.
Celebrities & influencers aren’t as beloved by Gen Z
Influencer marketing is expected to be a $13.8 billion market in 2021. But brands may be remiss to hear that those efforts likely make little impact on Gen Z. Only a handful of respondents (5%) reported enjoying celebrity appearances or takeovers on a brand’s social media. And even less (4%) reported attraction to brands that used celebrity influencers.
There could be many explanations for this change of heart, be it the inauthenticity that comes with celebrity or the way many of the ultra-rich flouted pandemic guidelines throughout 2020. But no matter the cause, it’s clear Gen Z has little love for celebrities.
While micro-influencers appear to be slightly more popular (14%), it may be safer to assume that neither is a home run. It is likely that brands are overvaluing the impact that celebrity influencers have.
About half of Gen Z wants brands to “show the receipts”
In 2020, many brands dove headfirst into conversations surrounding public health, social justice, and equality. But, as time has passed, many (if not most) have toned down their stance or gone silent entirely, and Gen Z has taken note.
But while publicly stating support for a cause is a great start, it’s not quite enough. To authentically stand with a cause in a way that builds trust for Gen Z, brands need to show proof (47%). But, this support doesn’t have to only be monetary. Creating petitions, educating followers, and sharing actionable ways for others to get involved can be just as helpful. Because more than anything, using the power of your brand for good may be the simplest way to connect with Gen Z.
Gen Z is subverting the stereotype
The young people today are much different than their predecessors. While we may all share preconceived notions of each generation, our research proves Gen Z’s nuanced perception of the world.