Brands, Snapchat and Gen Z consumer habits – a new study

Snapchat and Gen Z

Snapchat and Gen Z

Who wins the race when it comes to social media users and which channels are failing to ignite interest among younger consumers? Well, it seems Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are in a statistical dead heat when it comes to college and high school students in terms of which social networks they use.

But when asked how often they use them, Snapchat and Instagram are ahead of Facebook and Twitter is trailing well behind the top trio.

An online survey of 333 college and high school students (not a huge number, admittedly) conducted by American advertising and PR agency SCG showed about 95% of students using the three major social media platforms. But 88% saying they use Instagram and Snapchat “often”, versus  81% for Facebook. 

And Twitter? It trails on all fronts with only 66.6% using it at some point and fewer than 50% using it often. Students also report lower usage of Tumblr, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Daily essential

Snapchat is clearly the winner and is also top when it comes to daily use (78% of students using it every day), compared to 76% for Instagram and 66% for Facebook. In fact, 71% use Snapchat over six time a day and 51% more than 11 times daily.

“Students – mostly Gen Z – are spending about 11 hours per day in front of up to five different screens. So it should be of no surprise that they are not married to just one platform,” said SCG’s Michael Cherenson. “Marketers and brands must be agnostic when it comes to platform. This means being open to use of several social media networks, often in unique ways.”

But while marketers and brands need to be as open to multiple networks as they can, certain networks have clear advantages for specific functions. 

Snapchat, for instance, is most favoured by respondents for keeping in touch with friends (89.5%) and sharing and creating videos, images and stories (56.8%). A sizeable 49.2% say they return to Snapchat daily simply to maintain a Snapchat streak.

“More than half of Snapchat users say they would feel disconnected from friends if not for Snapchat, which speaks volumes about the relationship students have with the platform and their peer networks,” Cherenson said.  “Almost 25% indicated Snapchat is essential to their relationships.”


Almost 90% of Snapchat users say they enjoy the GeoFilters, while 85% say they like the Snapchat Lenses. 

But possibly bad news for brands – students report little to no interest in ads that appear in stories.

There is a high degree of interest in content, including “Real Stories or day-in-the-life,” as well as “Behind-scenes videos,” and “How-To” videos.  When asked about what brands or companies use Snapchat well, Cosmo, Buzzfeed and the Kardashians were cited most frequently.

“Brands would be wise to use the platform for storytelling, providing new and interesting perspectives, and for engaging in a thoughtful, interesting and meaningful way with students,” said Cherenson. “Cookie cutter content will be pushed aside quickly.”

Want to be in-the-know about all things Gen Z? Read about how retailers should be catering to the Gen Z shopper here.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.