Consumer Trend: Gen Z Seeks More Authenticity in Social Media

January 5, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

GWI Gen Z Social Media Authenticity Jan2022

Gen Z tend to be big social media users, and while close to 3 in 10 are following influencers and experts on social media, they are seeing some of the negative consequences of being on social platforms. A recent report [download page] from GWI shows that 45% of Gen Z believe there is too much pressure to be perfect on social media. 

The survey of more than 9,000 social media users ages 16-64 in 7 global markets indicates that Gen Z are more likely than other age groups to agree that there is too much pressure to be perfect on social media. They are also more likely than other age groups to agree that people should show more of their “real” selves and lives on social.

Perhaps because of these attitudes, Gen Z are more likely than others to say they care less about impressing others on social media than they used to and that they are more open about how they feel online. 

That doesn’t mean that social media users, in general, are ambivalent about authenticity. Research from Bazaarvoice shows that the social media users are more likely to believe that subject matter experts rather than celebrities or social media stars share the most authentic or genuine content. In fact, GWI’s survey shows that those respondents who follow beauty experts are more likely than average to say that they want brands to be more authentic. They are also most likely to say that celebrities and influencers should make it clear when they use filters.

For the most part, social media users want people or groups they follow to share content that is funny and light-hearted, helpful to others and informational. Fewer are concerned about the content posted by people they follow looking good.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health

The negative impact social media has on youth mental health has caused some to stop using these platforms. On a wider scale, more consumers are feeling signs of stress and anxiety than they did in the past, especially since the start of the pandemic. There was a slight lift in those who say they at least occasionally have back/muscle or joint pain, stress and anxiety between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021. Moreover, Gen Z is the age group whose mental wellbeing has been most impacted by the pandemic, with half saying their stress or anxiety levels have gotten worse during the pandemic.

Working from home also appears to have an impact on mental health. While a near equal share of work-from-homers and non-work-from-homers say their stress level has worsened during the pandemic, GWI found that those who work from home are more than twice as likely than those who do not to say their mental health got better.

Despite all this, there was a lift between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021 in the share of consumers who describe themselves as daring, creative, ambitious and adventurous.

The full report can be found here

About the Data: Findings are based on a September 2021 survey of 9,223 social media users ages 16-64 in 7 markets.

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