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Gen Z doesn’t care for mainstream pop culture

Gen Zer out in the wild

Gen Z doesn’t care for mainstream pop culture


The Future. For brands, Gen Z is hard to pin down because it’s all over the place — fragmented by an internet of subcultures — each with their own rules, lingo, and interests. The brands that shine may be the ones who figure out what their own mission is, and use that authenticity to earn props within a specific subculture.

Niche tribes

A new report by Horizon Media called “The Gen Z Field Guide: A Marketer’s Manual for Following the Niche Over the Norm,” tries to break down the new Breakfast Club of Gen Z. 

  • The report found that 91% of 18-25 year olds “believe mainstream pop culture is a thing of the past.”
  • Instead, they exist in several different niche cultures that they’re passionate about, which the report breaks down into gaming, entertainment, education, fashion, and beauty.
  • There’s also 12 subcultures within those, like “Streetwear x Gamers,” “Horror Healers,” “Scientific Edutainers,” and “Cursed Cosplayers”… so things get hyper-specific.

That fragmentation makes reaching a wide audience especially difficult because you can’t just tap into “the culture” — you have to embed yourself specifically into something defined and personalized (unless you’re one of the biggest companies in the world).

Coded in the culture

How did this fragmentation happen? Well, Gen Z is the first generation to be raised on the Internet. According to Maxine Gurevich, SVP of cultural intelligence at Why Group (a unit within Horizon Media), “the algorithm is their gateway to the world.” 

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman calls Gen Z “the network generation” that prides itself on individual expression existing within the context of a larger community.In other words, the challenge is becoming part of their story.

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