Gen-Z Content Consumption: the TikTok Effect 

By Maxine Marcus, Founder & CEO, AmbassCo

TikTok has created a cultural re-set within Gen-Z, and the content consumption themes we saw emerge in 2020 are only the beginning of what is to come. As the daughter of a prominent VC, I began getting exposed to startup culture in elementary school. My father would take me out of class as a middle schooler and include me in watching his venture pitches. The startups pitching my dad would always shift their attention off of him, and on to me. It was from these early experiences that allowed me to see that product managers, marketers, and brand executives are removed from the true Gen-Z consumer. I founded AmbassCo after working in-house at multiple startups running youth research, and discovering how to gain true and honest insights from my peers. AmbassCo is a Gen-Z focused insights, strategy, and feedback company that amplifies the perspective of the authentic Gen-Z customer today.  Recruited through our unique techniques and word of mouth, our Ambassadors are vetted to be in-tune with our generation, diverse, and authentic. We work with the trendsetters and leaders of our generation, enabling us to speak and articulate ideas for the stressed, busy, fickle, and confused teen. Recently We worked with 175 of our diverse Ambassadors in High School and College across the US to understand the impact of the massive rise of TikTok at the beginning of quarantine, and throughout 2020. Long story short, TikTok has massively re-programmed how we view and consume content. TikTok has distributed the power of influence into the hands of the users, promoting raw and authentic content and humor. Here are some of the key ways TikTok will affect the rest of this year:

  1. TikTok controls culture and language. 50% of our High Schoolers send TikToks to their friends multiple times a day. Our Ambassadors outlined that they noticeably can see a difference between their friends that consistently watch TikTok, and their friends that don’t. We are addicted to the variety on the platform, and discovering new niche clothing brands, foods to try, and tricks
  2. Gen-Z’ers want raw and organic content. We don’t respond well to advertisements that feel fake or overly produced, and we’d rather see home-made user generated TikTok’s than produced dances and songs. User generated content has become the best and most valuable form of content on social media. Gen-Z’ers want to hear from their peers and from those they can relate to, not be bombarded with influencer posts 
  3. Followers do not equal fans, so don’t waste your brand dollars. Gen-Z’ers follow influencers for many reasons, but following does not mean we care enough to pay attention to a sponsored post or brand deal. Our Ambassadors outlined that the majority of the influencers they follow don’t have real influence over them. Instead, they would rather identify new brands or trends through users that show up on their FYP due to similar interests or content patterns. 
  4. Who is actually influential? The influencers that do have deep connections with their fans have become more powerful than ever. Ambassadors mentioned David Dobrik, James Charles, and Spencer Wuah as being deeply powerful influencers that have built enough of a connection with their fan base to be truly influential. 

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