While the world is gripped in the midst of a crisis, with lockdowns and quarantines the norm, major societal and cultural change is sweeping over both the digital and physical world. COVID-19 and the challenges to everyday life it poses are unique to both young and old alike, and with this, Gen-Z are evolving. With new cultural trends emerging, use of technology shifting, and of course, new memes catapulting to popularity, many marketers, especially those in digital industries, are seeing unexpected momentum generated as a result of people staying indoors, yearning for new ways to stay connected to one another.
"The quarantine app you need to download immediately."
Houseparty, an iOS app owned by Fortnite developers Epic Games is one such example. Released in 2016, Gen-Z are flocking to the platform in order to maintain sociability despite social distancing. Quickly embedding itself within youth culture as an unexpected side effect of the corona-crisis, Vogue named it as “the quarantine app you need to download immediately.”
Houseparty allows friends to join interactive video calls, where group games, such as Heads Up!, can be played together as part of the features offered. Remaining relatively niche up until a month ago, the app racked in 2m downloads worldwide last week alone, compared with 130,000 in the same period last year, according to App Annie, and is currently ranked No1 in the Social Networking category on the App Store.
The App Offering A Solution To Educators...
However, Houseparty isn’t the only video-chat app making waves. Conference call platform Zoom is currently at the forefront of an online-teaching revolution. With schools and colleges shut around the world, educators have been eager to find a solution that allows them to continue to provide education to Gen-Z, and maintain a sense of normality. Zoom is an increasingly popular solution, replacing traditional mediums, such as Skype and Hangouts for online video communication.
It is currently the world’s 2nd most downloaded app, behind none-other-than TikTok, with downloads rising 728% in the last two weeks. Finding favour with what users hail as a smooth user interface and consistent call quality, the app is being utilized in a diverse range of applications, from teaching, to holding work meetings, and even streaming weddings!
With Gen-Z currently left with few options other than to stay indoors, as expected, digital consumption has skyrocketed. According to Nielsen, video-streaming usage could rise to 60%, and YouTube has seen a 12% increase in use amongst 13-39-year old’s in the past week. Gaming platforms are seeing record numbers of activity and there has been a 23% increase in music streaming during the corona period.
Music To Feed Your Soul
An increasingly popular trend in the music sphere during the outbreak is ‘Quarantine Playlists’. Users are creating custom playlists, collaborating to build compilations to help pass the time, and sharing them on social networks, with some playlists garnering hundreds of thousands of followers. Some have taken a more somber approach, while others continue to reflect Gen-Z humour, including entries such as Toxic by Britney Spears and Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police.
A Digital Revolution Is Underway
While this period is a very trying time for many businesses and industries, it is also a time of opportunity. A cultural and digital revolution is underway; the way we communicate is evolving, and we are consuming and developing technology at a catalyzing rate. App/platform developers that stay current with the times, and find new, exciting ways to engage Gen-Z will emerge as winners post-corona, and those that do not attempt to win the hearts of Gen-Z through developing new, culturally relevant features and employing savvy marketing tactics will struggle.