Gen Z gets creative online

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Photo: @giangdaoo via Twenty20
Aug 02, 2019
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MarketingCharts staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

According to a new study by JWT Intelligence and Snap Inc., 51 percent of Gen Z believe their generation is more creative than previous generations.

More than 1,200 Gen Zers living in the U.S. and the UK who use their smartphones at least once a day were surveyed and, as perhaps the first generation raised completely within the digital age, it’s not too surprising to learn that Gen Zers express the majority of their creativity online using digital tools. Indeed, more than half (55 percent) find social apps and the internet a more creative space than what they experience offline. 

When asked which digital creative tools Gen Zers prefer the most, more than one-third (35 percent) of respondents ranked Snapchat as the top digital tool for creating art or editing photos, beating out other apps including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

Despite their screen time, more than three-fourths (77 percent) say they spend free time offline participating in creative activities such as drawing, illustrating and journaling. This is compared to just about half (48 percent) of the respondents reported spending their free time online being creative by editing photos, creating memes or digital art.

Some 49 percent of those who create on or offline find ideas and inspiration for their photos, blog posts, videos and memes from social apps. Another 44 percent find inspiration from family and friends and 40 percent look to personal experiences to inspire them.

JWT wrote in the report, “With their fluid relationship with social media platforms, as well as their budding reach in brand campaigns, culture, and media, Gen Z are redefining what brands and marketers may have thought they understood about identity, communication, and the future of creative talent.”

Brands have the opportunity to encourage even more engagement by tapping into Gen Z’s creativity through user-generated content (UGC). In the past, UGC has been proven to improve customer confidence in a purchase, and a recent study found that encouraging UGC was a good way to create a connection between consumers and a brand.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What opportunities and challenges does Gen Z’s online and offline creativity present for marketers when it comes to communication and engagement? Does it make sense that Gen Z is more creative than past generations given their access to digital tools and platforms?

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Braintrust
"The opportunities for targeting Gen Z align to where we see retail marketing headed: experience and immersion."

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15 Comments on "Gen Z gets creative online"


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Bethany Allee
BrainTrust

The opportunities for targeting Gen Z align to where we see retail marketing headed: experience and immersion. With more than 77 percent of Gen Z identifying as creators, they will seek out brands that give them an opportunity to create within their experience. Customization is an easy and natural fit. The move for retail spaces to be community hubs is also primed to embrace and facilitate this customer experience.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

Big retail brands, particularly apparel sellers, have traditionally operated with a stronghold on brand identity and messaging. To tap into the marketing power of UGC (and influencer marketing), brands are going to have to become comfortable giving the creative reins to their partners — for better or worse. As to the second question, Gen Z may have more creative prowess in the digital world, but you’ve gotta wonder about their fine motor skills! And while they’re getting creative inspiration from social media, friends, and personal experience, do they ever turn to great creative thinkers: writers, artists, filmmakers, etc.? It’s unclear whether the survey failed to account for this or whether they’re actually not doing it! Thoughts?

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Creativity is subjective. Do I think Gen Z is more creative because of social media apps? Maybe, but only because it’s available to them. They were born in a time with instant access to smartphones; this gave them a digital advantage over older generations.

Much of our business is done in the creative industries. Crafts – crafters, creators, makers, artists, sewists, etc. – is a $36 billion dollar industry. According to the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI), Millennials ages 18-34 are the largest percentage of crafters. And like most retail, 90 percent of craft purchases are made in brick and mortar stores.

Many Millennial crafters are self-taught, having the opportunity to learn new crafts via the Internet and YouTube. Gen Z benefits here as well as more and more brands, retailers, and designers have amped up digital learning. The question is, how will Gen Z’s love for adding filters to photos translate into future creativity? And what will be available to Generation Alpha that will surpass Gen Z’s apps to stimulate creativity?

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

Encouraging Gen Z to create content using brands and sharing their creations would be a reasonable choice. However, it is risky for brands and threatening to agencies. By encouraging Gen Z members to create content the brand is no longer in control of the message. By encouraging members of Gen Z to make creative materials, what is the role of agencies? In spite of the issues, this is a road to pursue since traditional creative materials and outlets have little impact on members of Gen Z. How to encourage the creativity and engage members of Gen Z while managing the brand message and integrating agencies is a new challenge.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
First of all, every generation believes it is the most creative generation evolution has managed to produce. It’s called generational hubris. What has changed with Gen Z are the tools, although in all fairness I bet there are plenty of Millennials, Gen Xers, and even some Boomers that use Photoshop (invented before the first Gen Zer was born, after all) with the same flair. (For scary examples supporting this hypothesis see all the grandparents on Facebook that used that creepy Russian aging app.) So the real difference is that Gen Z has been raised in an era when altering/interacting with digital brand content is as The Monkees once sang, “more or less a given thing.” I’m not so sure marketers have an “opportunity and challenge” here as much as an obligation. If you want to talk to consumers you have to contact them where they live and employ words, images, and messages that resonate with them. Again, not really a new idea. Oh, one more thought: my best is that the Alphas, or whatever marketers… Read more »
Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Exactly, Ryan. You say, “It’s easy for folks to confuse the sophistication of the tools with the skills of the toolmakers.” I’d add: … and with the creativity and skills of the tool users.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Our youngest generation is Generation Alpha. I can’t wait to see what they can do!

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Well, here’s the cool thing about this: at least they realize that they CAN be creative! I believe that everyone is creative in some way, but most have their creative sensibilities squashed early on by “reality” lessons (“how you going to make money at that? huh?”). So, you gotta give it to Z. Keep it up. And YES, you are creative. Maybe not the “most” creative, but who’s counting and most of all, who cares?

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Can Gen Z build a tree house? Its own physical toys? Do they know what an erector set is? Creativity is actually relative to the times in which we live. I would more compare Gen Z to the great composers of the 18th and 19th century. They were VERY creative, just 300-200 years ago!

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I am amazed at what my daughter can do, the things she can create and fix. She learned how to knit amazing hats and sweaters, afghans and socks, all from watching videos on YouTube. The same goes for my son and son-in-law. My SIL just tiled the backsplash in their kitchen — he learned how watching YouTube. Our younger generations are certainly resourceful. I can guarantee you that my Alpha grandson will be able to build because his Millennial dad will teach him. He’s four and already a whiz with Legos!

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Younger people, in general are truly driving marketing across industries — in case you haven’t noticed. Online creative is far more visually powerful than offline imagery, and Gen Zs are masters at digital marketing (from birth) whether they’re actually employed in the trade or just doing it for personal entertainment. I believe marketing will continue to be driven by the young as technology evolves even further.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

I don’t believe this offers a tremendous opportunity — let’s not get carried away with self perception of creativity. After all, the mere word “creative” can mean far too many things. And my experience is that many executives project their own hope for creativity onto a word like this and end up not really hearing what is being said.

In part, most true creativity comes offline. So any Gen Z perception of creativity happens via narrowly restricted tools — making it not really “creativity.”

All this said, it does make sense to pay a bit of attention for advertising and merchandising purposes. There are opportunities to work with this self perception to make your retail brand stand out.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust
I admit it. I’ve read this piece several times and I don’t get the point. “Gen Zers use their phone at least once a day?” Who doesn’t? If indeed 77 percent of Gen Zs express their creativity the old fashioned way – offline – why all the discussion and marketing angst about digital tools? Having digital “tools” for creativity does not automatically lead to actual creativity any more than having a piano in the house means you can actually play it. The tools are NOT creative, only the human mind is and it’s been in play since the beginning of time. Show me actual creativity OFFLINE and I’ll be impressed. Frankly, it may well be that all these digital tools diminish creativity and the capacity to think for oneself. Heck, we don’t have to learn math anymore, there’s an app for that. Don’t go through the stress of learning a new language, another app that will translate your speech effortlessly. Perhaps 3-D printing will replace a modern day Michelangelo so no more original Davids. Breathtaking… Read more »
Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Where’s the love button?

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

I’m not convinced Gen Z is more (or less) creative, though they absolutely have digital tools at their fingertips! Retailers and brands would be smart to harness their online energy to understand, engage and co-create with Gen Z.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The opportunities for targeting Gen Z align to where we see retail marketing headed: experience and immersion."

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