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Survey reveals Gen Z social media, branding trends

Gen Z consumers like to purchase from sustainable brands.

Gen Z consumers have unique preferences when it comes to digital engagement and selecting brands.

According to a recent Human8 survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, including more than 450 Gen Z shoppers, one-third (34%) of Gen Z respondents feel anxious if they have to disconnect from the Internet even for a day. And eight in 10 (81%) Gen Z respondents have engaged in metaverse activities.

Gen Z respondents lead all other surveyed generations (millennial, Gen X and baby boomer) in paying for digital products, creating avatars, and visiting branded spaces in games. Gen Y respondents slightly lead Gen Z respondents in online gaming.

Compared to older generations, Gen Z respondents have a more positive image of social media companies. While 55% of surveyed Gen Z consumers feel these companies have too much power, this percentage rises to 73% for Gen Y, 66% for Gen X and 76% for baby boomers.

However, half of Gen Z respondents distrust how their data is used, and one-third use encrypted messaging apps. About four in 10 (39%) follow social media influencers they can relate to.

Brand sustainability

The survey also examined Gen Z attitudes toward sustainability efforts by brands. Findings include:

  • 38% of Gen Z respondents believe that brands that don’t communicate about sustainability are not sustainable.
  • 34% refuse to buy from non-sustainable brands.
  • 43% want brands to challenge societal issues.
  • Gen Z respondents are more willing to pay more for brands that are black-owned (42%) or female-led (41%).

Majorities of Gen Z respondents also said they are more likely to purchase from a brand that engages in the following sustainable activities:

  • Treat employees suppliers fairly 69%.
  • Try have a positive impact on society 66%.
  • Use inclusive practices 61%.
  • Run business in sustainable way 60%.
  • Understand their Gen Z customers (52%).
  • Create products that reflect Gen Z shopper identities (51%).
  • Personalization & co-creation (50%).

Gen Z cares about creators

According to a recent survey of U.S. Gen Z consumers from LTK, 75% of respondents said they make purchases online from creator recommendations (21% higher than the general population), and 77% are now shopping in-store from creator recommendations.

In addition, the survey revealed that 79% of Gen Z shopping originates from social media. The study also found that creators are the most trusted on social media by Gen Z, with the overwhelming majority saying they trust creators more than social media ads and celebrities. In fact, creators are 3.5 times more influential to Gen Z consumers than social media ads.

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