The Bernie Sanders meme, which has gone viral on social media, has helped boost the designer’s sales of his mittens.
Image: Brendan Smialowski/AFP
IIf we asked you to think of a “pop culture moment”, what would come to mind? A movie release, a sporting event or the launch of a new TV series? While Millennials have different tastes than Gen Z, both generations agree that the pop culture moments they care about most involve social media, with memes and viral videos leading the way.
What is the magic formula to seduce Generation Z and Millennials? According to a study conducted by YPulse*, memes and viral videos are now the pop culture moments these younger generations care about the most, more than movie releases or sporting events. Some 55% of Gen Z respondents say their generation cares about viral videos and social media memes, while 48% of millennials think the same. Music comes in second, with a new album or song scoring 48% for Gen Z and 38% for Gen Y. Finally, the world of video games comes in third, with 48% of Gen Z and 33% of Millennials say their generation is interested in new video game releases.
The use of memes has exploded on social media since the Covid-19 pandemic. A phenomenon explained by the American Psychological Association in a study highlighting how funny or cute memes can help reduce stress and boost people’s confidence in their ability to cope with the pandemic. Besides being a source of comfort or serving as an escape in these gloomy times, memes and viral videos are also being used by younger people to keep up with the news online and in the world of pop culture.
Another takeaway from the “Pop Culture Redefined” report is that while Gen Z is unpredictable, driven by social media and not a fixed schedule of popular events, Millennials still value such moments. For example, 44% of Millennials say their generation is interested in a movie release, and the same number in celebrity scandals. The launch or finale of a TV series and major sporting events are also among their interests, unlike Gen Z.
However, if an event involves multiple factors, such as memes associated with a political event, both generations can be affected, as seen with the Bernie Sanders meme of Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the United States in January 2021.
What pop culture moments do Gen Z and Millennials think their generation cares about?
Social media meme / viral video – Gen Z: 55% / Millennials: 48%
Release of a new album/song – Gen Z: 48% / Millennials: 38%
Release of a new video game – Gen Z: 42% / Millennials: 33%
Release of a new film – Gen Z: 41% / Millennials: 44%
Trending hashtags on social media – Gen Z: 39% / Millennials: 34%
Celebrity Scandal – Gen Z: 37% / Millennials: 44%
Popular TV show finale – Gen Z: 34% / Millennials: 38%
Release of a new TV show – Gen Z: 32% / Millennials: 37%
A major sporting event – Gen Z: 31% / Millennials: 37%
A major fashion event – Gen Z: 29% / Millennials: 22%
Political events – Gen Z: 27% / Millennials: 32%
A discount – Gen Z: 26% / Millennials: 26%
Celebrity/brand product drops – Gen Z: 26% / Millennials: 23%
Streaming or virtual concert – Gen Z: 23% / Millennials: 21%
Brand wars on social networks – Gen Z: 20% / Millennials: 17%
My generation doesn’t care about pop culture – Gen Z: 6% / Millennials: 9%
*Based on an October 2021 survey of 1,450 people aged 13-39 in North America.
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