Gen Z are arguably the first fully-online generation, with the oldest of the group maybe experiencing the joys of dial up internet – and that’s a stretch. So, with such exposure to entertainment, the internet and influencers – surely Gen Z are just all about that blue tick life?
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Although young people worldwide spend most of their days attached to a mobile, it seems that they are slowly stepping away from celebrity involvement.
And when it comes to celebs, they don’t need to know every single detail about their lives. Just look at some of the biggest personalities that resonate with Gen Zs – Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Zendaya; they’re not really that engaged on social media.
But often when these relevant celebrities get involved, it’s super on brand for Gen Zs.
Let’s look at Harry Styles. He’s become more than just celebrity, arguably gravitating above celeb status into a wider cultural icon. He built his brand on the back of One Direction and his solo music career; but his gender fluidity, mental health openness and general empathy makes his bandwagon very attractive for young people worldwide to jump on.
the models from the Watermelon Sugar mv called Harry Styles “consent king,” because he asked every time if it was okay to touch them and THAT my friend is how it’s fucking done.
— rachel🦋 (@canyonmoonblu) May 18, 2020
Switch over to Billie Eilish now, and it’s a similar trend.
A killer-good musician, who also has similar social-justice led values. Back during the peak Black Lives Matter movement from earlier this year, Eilish posted one of the most refreshing, honest, Gen Z takes on the movement.
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It doesn’t mean that Gen Zs don’t want to be, or aren’t, influenced by big celebrities. Or that they don’t want to hear from them via social channels.
In fact, a study by Morning Consult said that 69% of Gen Zs want to engage with celebs and relevant personalities via social media. They want them to have a presence, and they want to have a connection with them. But they don’t want #TMI.
And to further drive home this point about celebrity interest, we just need to turn our heads more locally.
As podcasts boom globally, on the popular cultural commentary podcast The Bobo and Flex Show (show featuring Aussie Flex Mami, and US-based Bobo Matjila) – they spoke about how people globally are getting a bit over celebs. Especially after the year that has been 2020.
In a recent episode (Bella Thorne & White Feminism) the two spoke about how celebs have really become less of a point of interest for people worldwide. Pointing out how the 2020 MTV Music Awards didn’t even trend online, or get much hype this year.
“People are really divesting from celebrity culture,” Bobo said.
“Since the pandemic began, I see so much less celebrity news and celebrity gossip,”
Bobo went onto mention if that lack of interest is because people are more jobless and stressed, or if people are just tired of hearing from multi-million/billionaires and the general one-percenters. Heck, maybe both?
Stop idolizing celebrities. Celebrity culture is toxic. Idolizing another imperfect human being is toxic. That throne you have a celebrity on belongs to Christ.
— Maria_Elizabeth (@Flashyfirefly) September 23, 2020
So when you mix in some really intense world problems, naturally an attitude change is on the cards. We’ve even seen the most popular reality TV show cancelled, with Keeping Up With The Kardashians set to wrap up after 20 seasons. Coincidence? Or perhaps a telling sign that young people especially are a bit over rich people being rich.
The rise of Tik Tok arguably just pushes this idea of less celebrity culture influence. Gen Zs are happy to watch, engage and be influenced by everyday people. Predominantly other young people like them.
So as brands and marketers, maybe it’s time to start thinking less about big time celebs with mass appeal – and how you can insert some Gen Z values into your brand’s ethos.