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Gen-Z Roundup: March 2022

Matt Lacey

05 Apr 2022 · 9 min read

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Gen Z simultaneously fuels, maintains, and propels the social media ecosystem in which we currently exist. From ideation and creation to advertising and consumerism, Zoomers have the most prominent online presence of any generation and are becoming a fundamental part of our digital landscape. The new world exists on the internet and if millennials were the first settlers, then it’s evident that Zoomers have their minds on further innovation and expansion.

Using Tagger’s Signals Creator Listening Engine, we measured how some of March's trending topics, news events, and more from the past month have been shaped by Gen-Z’ers and what that looks like on social media.

KSI collaborates with Adidas and redefines the concept of an Influencer

The influencer market is becoming exponentially more lucrative by the second, as creators are constantly coming up with ways to provide and monetize content. Olajide Olatunji is a prime example of somebody who is consistently taking advantage of his influencing opportunities. Better known as KSI, he is a British YouTuber, boxer, and musician, but it all started with the first identifier. In 2009, KSI started a YouTube channel providing gaming commentary of the FIFA video game. Around 2012, he expanded into a variety of different games as well as more vlog style content, which ultimately garnered him 1 million subscribers. He both joined and left a collective of creators called The Sidemen—from which he has produced videos, published a tell-all, and sold merch. KSI subsequently launched his music career where he toggled between major and independent releases for years. The influencer has even acted and published video games, but the most noteworthy event was when he boxed Logan Paul in 2018. Otherwise known as “the biggest amateur boxing match in history,” this YouTube star-studded event was a monumental jumping-off point for almost everybody at the event. Since then, KSI has participated in more matches, announced multiple companies and partnerships, and even announced an Amazon Prime-produced documentary. He has been highly ranked on the UK's list of top 100 influencers and has now accumulated over 38 million collective subscribers. The influencer is even stepping into a new sector, fashion, with his Adidas collaboration. Adidas’ iconic 1980s Forum Silhouette sneaker has been re-released multiple times this year through the likes of Prada and Bad Bunny. Now it’s time for the multihyphenate to release his own version, the Forum Hi KSI. This is a substantial step for the future of influencer marketing by proving content creators can be on par with musicians and fashion icons. The ones regarded as “less talented” are transparent and don’t have to hide behind a certain persona. They maintain a strong following and foster virtual and physical communities. As transparency becomes more critical to gen-z, these influencers will surpass celebrities in terms of popularity and audience trust.

KSI’s IG following almost quadrupled in 6 years, from 2.8M to 11.1M followers

Festival season is upon us!

If it hasn't been made clear already by the plethora of lineup announcements across Twitter and Instagram, festival season seems to be on the horizon. There’s a large variety of music festivals that are launching for the first time or finally returning. We’ve seen some incredible festival announcements over the past month, setting the stage for this year’s top music stars. First is the LetsGetFr.ee Carnaval in Queens, NY presented by Matthew Morgan and Jocelyn Cooper of AFROPUNK. The festival claims “that it will only work with brands and companies who commit to long-term systemic change.” in a mission to close the racial equity gap. Next is the Broccoli City Festival in Washington D.C., which is finally back after a two-year hiatus for its 8th annual installment. Boosted by a partnership with Live Nation Urban, the festival also serves as the first inaugural BLK Change Weekend—created to work towards “a more racially equitable world for Black millennials and Gen Z’ers.” The third is the second annual Dreamville Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, presented by J.Cole and his aforementioned record label. The news is exciting because this event was also on hiatus, and upon its return, the festival will extend its duration from one day to two. Last on the slate is the three-day Rolling Loud festival in Miami— returning for its second year in a row since the pandemic—with an elite lineup. With both Future and Kanye West set as headliners for Friday and Saturday, the festival’s big kahuna is Kendrick Lamar’s headlining spot on Sunday—5 years after his last Rolling Loud performance. Needless to say, music festivals aren’t holding back this year. We’ve been deprived of our favorite live acts for almost two years. It's no surprise that they’re all coming back in grand—and progressive—fashion. The mentioned performances will span from April through August.

Events and festivals are seeing increased engagement with each announcement made. Performance chart for a profile report of our Events/Festival vertical market category.

Mercer + Prince on the Rock(y)s

This past Thursday, famous New York rapper, designer, and all-around creative A$AP Rocky unveiled the launch of his new whiskey brand, Mercer + Prince. The product, marking a partnership with Global Brand Equities and E & J Gallo, is an aged, twice distilled, and blended Canadian whiskey. Catering to all walks of life, the brand is named after the two well-known cross streets in SoHo. New York has its influence as an exemplary melting pot, and Rocky seems to be trying to encapsulate that feeling—with a mix of art, culture, sophistication, and swag. Even the bottle design stands out and highlights the level of cutting-edge innovation that the rapper is going after. Rocky is the most recent celebrity to provide their brand or sub-brand of alcohol to the public. Some additional examples include George Clooney’s Casamigos, Diddy’s Ciroc and Deleón, Kendall Jenner’s 818, and even Ron Jeremy’s Ron de Jeremy Rum. Some of these spirits have risen to top-tier acclaim, while others have been on the receiving end of controversial think pieces. Regardless of critical reception, consumption is growing in this sector as more and more celebrity concepts are becoming staples in your favorite liquor store. Celebrity endorsements of beverage brands have been around since the early 20th century, and with the rise of influencer marketing, I’d suggest keeping an eye on both the alcoholic beverage sales and engagement numbers for the rest of 2022.

ASAP Rocky’s follower count on IG has only increased since last March.

Video Games; top of the charts

Writer and trend forecaster for the Guardian, Sean Monahan, once said that “video games have replaced music as the most important aspect of youth culture,” and I don't think he’s wrong. Especially with the fact that the emerging generations have created livelihoods within and through video games—not to mention the powerful vehicle that video games have become for music distribution and discovery nowadays. However, with that being the case, there has been rising pressure on syndicated franchises and their powerhouse developers. Well known for its Call of Duty franchise, the video game company named Activision Blizzard was acquired by Microsoft in January. Since then, there have been multiple rumors that their mainstay title, Call of Duty, won’t receive another core installment in 2023—which would make it the first year in 20 that there hasn’t been a release of this kind. On the other hand, Activision is reported to release multiple remasters within the franchise to make up for the lack of annual releases. There are also plans for backward compatibility with certain consoles, and even the first CoD game, Modern Warfare Remastered, to be on the Nintendo Switch. This month video game developer, Rockstar announced their plans to launch an online subscription service for their GTA Online called GTA+. It’s a subscription service solely for next-generation consoles where you get bonus cash, vehicles, upgrades, and more for $5.99 a month. In the meantime, these companies depend on remasters, upgrades, and improvements to provide a cash flow through old games while working on the next ones. In this new video game ecosystem, games like Fortnite and Roblox can remain virtually immortal through updates, patches, and concerts featuring Travis Scott and Lil Nas X, all without the need for a sequel.

Performance chart for a mentions report of the Call of Duty and Rockstar Games social media profiles.

Swifties takeover NYU

Unless you have the keywords “Taylor Swift” muted on your social media, you’d likely know that the Grammy-winning pop star will be receiving a Doctor of Fine Arts from NYU, honoris causa. Other honorary degree recipients include Judith Heumann, Lonnie Bunch III, Jill Lepore, Susan Hockfield, and Felix Matos Rodriguez—quite the company. However, the difference between Taylor and her counterparts is that she will be delivering the commencement speech for the class of 2022, while Huemann will address the combined classes of 20 and 21. This post-spring break announcement comes as a boon to last semester's seniors who are struggling to reach the light at the end of the tunnel—the coveted ceremony at Yankee Stadium. If you know an NYU student or alumnus, their Instagram story this week probably consisted of at least one headline about this news or some sort of plea to buy or sell tickets to the event. Swift has already been a hot topic at NYU, since senior writer at Rolling Stone and adjunct Tisch professor, Brittany Spanos, launched a writing/history class focused on Taylor. With Swift having so many accolades spanning from Grammys to a Global Icon Award and even two Women of the Decade Awards, this degree is not miscalculated in the slightest. Considering the past two years and change, it goes without saying that every graduate acknowledged this May has earned it.

Taylor’s Instagram following has been on a consistent increase since the beginning of the year.

‘Taylor Swift’ mentions have spiked since the commencement announcement.

Social commerce on the rise

Social commerce is an emerging form of e-commerce and is starting to make waves in the US. Simply put, social commerce is when the consumer shopping experience exists directly on a social media platform. This can look like clickable links to a brand’s product page or actionable buttons on a post that provide an immediate purchase option. According to Insider Intelligence, social commerce sales in the US are predicted to rise by 24.9% and reach $45.74 billion in 2022. Among social platforms, Facebook has been viewed as the most trustworthy platform for these purchases. However, only 45% of buyers feel confident there, revealing the high ceiling and vast potential for this specific type of commerce. This analysis also directs more attention towards the world of influencer marketing, as content creators are becoming more lucrative by the quarter. Furthermore, it’s predicted that US spending on influencer marketing could reach $4.14 billion this year.

Live Music meets Virtual Reality

In another innovative bid to provide more accessible live music experiences, rapper Megan Thee Stallion has partnered with AmazeVR to announce a 10-stop virtual reality tour. Enter Thee Hottieverse is the first-ever VR concert tour, powered by the up-and-coming leader in the music tech ecosystem. This tour allows fans to purchase tickets and attend the show at the closest venue, where they’ll be fitted with “Hottie Mounted Displays”—VR headsets. From then, fans will be able to experience thee Stallion in a way like none other, through her multi-song set. This will be a critical test for AmazeVR as they promise “a safety-focused and seamless blend of reality and imagination.” If executed correctly, the potential for more experiences like this increases tenfold. So let's keep our fingers crossed for a perfect manifestation of the “hybrid” experience.

Meg Thee Stallion saw nearly 40M views and impressions on her social media following this VR tour announcement.

Epic Games (and Tencent) acquire Bandcamp

In early March, it was announced—to the shock of many musicians and gamers—that esteemed video game developer and publisher Epic Games had acquired the DIY-centric and artist-friendly music platform Bandcamp. Epic is known for its groundbreaking Unreal Engine, a commercially available game engine that powers their internally developed games like Fortnite, Infinity Blade, and Gears of War. Bandcamp’s core values are through their artist-friendly ethos, which ultimately allows artists to set up a digital storefront—containing music, merch, etc.—and charge whatever price they see fit. Furthermore, the company doesn’t take any more than 15% of revenue from sales made—barring #BandcampFridays, when they don’t take any percentage. Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond stated, “The products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, we’ll continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model.” It’s known that Epic’s involvement with Tencent has led to the developer adopting a GaaS (games as a service) subscription model rather than being a one-stop-shop. Critics are wondering what’ll stop these two tech big wigs from turning Bandcamp into a subscription-based platform. Additionally, the developer has made a name for themselves through their virtual music experiences on Fortnite; so there’s a multitude of possibilities, but ultimately, no telling what’s going to happen to the future of this beloved platform,

Bandcamp and Epic Games’ total followers surpassed 20M when the acquisition was announced in early March.

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