Horizon Media’s report uncovers new Gen Z subcultures and outlines how brands can build their own “cheat code” to Gen Z relevance.
NEW YORK, Nov. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — If Gen Zers, those born between 1997 and 2012, are defined by a single attribute, it’s that their fluid sense of individuality makes them harder to pin down than their older counterparts.
The Gen Z Field Guide: A Marketer’s Manual for Following the Niche Over the Norm, published by Horizon Media, provides a comprehensive yet simple approach to connect with Gen Z’s seemingly contradictory nature. Spurred by prolonged periods of social isolation and widening societal division, this increasingly influential generation has a growing hunger for niche interests and like-minded communities. This can be understood in three key findings:
- 89% of Gen Zers rely on social media to help them discover new content related to their unique passions
- 65% consider themselves a “really big fan of something”
- 2in 3 put little-to-no importance on the size of an influencer’s following when determining that creator’s value to them
Further, Gen Z are 30% more likely than older generations to feel that having multiple “small interests” is better than limiting themselves to fewer, in-depth subjects. This generation is driving the “era of mass-niche.”
“Our report found that Gen Zers are transforming into active participants, not just passive observers within their communities. They’re actively co-creating, deeply engaging in storytelling, and forging strong bonds as they continuously shape and redefine their individuality across multiple subcultures every day,” said Maxine Gurevich, SVP, Cultural Intelligence of Horizon Media’s WHY Group, the agency’s intelligence center of excellence. “The study also showed the full embrace of individuality without the pressure to conform to their peers and that there is actually an opposite and equally strong pressure to stand out.”
“New Social platforms like YouTube Shorts and TikTok led to major shifts in how we consume and how we search, increased the potency of these subcultures, and made social less social, and more of an entertainment channel,” said Matt Higgins, Head of Strategy at Blue Hour Studios. “Brands that see social as the driver of culture and consumption, connect by going niche, and take a social-first approach regardless of channel will win with Gen Z and the audiences they influence.”
This year’s report, by Horizon Media’s WHY Group and Blue Hour Studios, uncovered 10 new subcultures across five categories: Identity, Entertainment, Sports, Retail, and Music.
Here are a few highlights from the 10 Subcultures Horizon Media identified:
- Nu Third-Culture Kids: Forging safe havens, fostering community, and embracing their multi-cultural and mixed-race identities.
- Comfort Creators: These self-care enthusiasts are granting permission to unwind in our hustle culture without disconnecting entirely.
- TALE-gaters: Enter the world of sports by crafting narratives that extend beyond the scoreboard, inviting broader audiences to engage in sports fandom.
- Copyconomists: Crowdsourcing cost-savvy workarounds that keep them on top of the latest trends without breaking the bank.
- Country Revivers: Embracing country music’s lighthearted folk sensibility, they’re remixing styles for a broader, more diverse audience.
The 10 subcultures, while diverse, share intersecting passions. No single subculture lives in isolation, they cross-pollinate. In fact, on average Gen Zers participate in 20 different interest-based communities. This is promising for marketers, as embracing a “Mass Niche” approach doesn’t require isolating marketing strategies.
Click here to access a marketing roadmap to connect more deeply with Gen Z consumers. For guidance on how to crack the Gen Z code in a way most relevant for your brand, Horizon’s WHY Team and Blue Hour Studios provide custom Gen Z playbooks and workshops tailored to brands’ specific business goals.
Phase One: The WHY Group analyzed over 1000 Gen Z content pieces to spot emerging trends and subcultures. Using WHY’s Cultural Intelligence library, they identified cultural drivers and confirmed them via a survey using Horizon’s Finger on the Pulse (August 2023, n=1,130).
Phase Two: The WHY Group undertook detailed interviews to grasp Gen Z engagement drivers. Horizon used MRI-Simmons USA 2023 research to profile subcultures as well as the WHY Group’s social intelligence practice to understand media and influencer ties. In partnership with Blue Hour Studios, they developed actionable campaign strategies tailored to each subculture.
Horizon Media, Inc, the largest U.S. media agency according to Ad Age Data Center 2023, delivers data-driven business outcomes for some of the most innovative and ambitious brands. Founded in 1989, headquartered in New York, and with offices in Los Angeles and Toronto, the company employs 2,400 people and has media investments of more than $8.5 billion. Horizon Media’s fundamental belief is that business is personal, which drives its approach to connecting brands with their customers and engaging with its own employees resulting in industry-leading workplace satisfaction levels (Glassdoor). The company is consistently recognized by independent media outlets for its client excellence and has earned several “Best Workplaces” awards reflecting its commitment to DEI and the life and well-being of everyone at Horizon Media.
Blue Hour Studios
Blue Hour Studios is a social-led content agency that was formed in 2019 and is an affiliate of Horizon Media. Blue Hour builds community and fandom by playing at the intersection of creators, culture, content, and commerce. The company is headquartered in New York and Los Angeles.
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SOURCE Horizon Media