min read

TikTok - the ultimate online community for Gen Z

Written by
Published on
June 9, 2021
Last updated
January 18, 2024

What this article covers

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.


By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.

TikTok has risen to prominence since the start of the pandemic. One year on, and the popularity of this platform among the next generation of consumers continues to grow. Brands, meet generation TikTok.

TikTok joined the social media line up in September 2016 - six years after Instagram launched - but the platform’s global following has really skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, making it a top contender in the online space.

After a year of learning dance moves and creating viral-worthy TikTok videos, Gen Zs - who make up at least 60% of the platform’s users - are taking ownership of the TikTok trend. Instagram started with millennials, now a new generation are making their mark on social media. So, let’s delve into the true values behind the Gen Z TikTok community - and what it means for your brand.

Authenticity - TikTok as a platform for realness

Instagram and YouTube have long been Gen Z's favorite social media platforms, however new kid on the block, TikTok, is quickly climbing the ranks as it becomes more widely known and used by not only Gen Zs but brands, too. In total, 78% of students we surveyed currently use TikTok.

Its capability to promote authenticity and realness plays a huge part in the platform's rapid progression. Millennials grew up using channels like Myspace and MSN in the early days, followed by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. They were hidden behind their screens, posting statuses rather than selfies. Gen Zs on the other hand have witnessed the launch of visually engaged social media platforms. They’ve grown up using filters on Snapchat, posting selfies on Instagram, and creating video content TikTok and YouTube.

Phone camera taking a picture of food

Gen Zs love visual platforms, and TikTok is the perfect combination of creativity, fun and authenticity. Influencers can’t hide behind static images, filters and perfect poses or placements. On TikTok, what you see is what you get - and Gen Zs are here for it.

Gen Z-centric - a space for young people to get creative

With at least 60% of TikTok’s users being Gen Zs, the platform has built an engaged, creative community of young consumers - which brings with it a crucial opportunity for brands to build their Gen Z following all in one place.

Unlike previous generations, Gen Zs see social media as a potential career path. TikTok is their ultimate gateway into content creation - a platform for budding creators to build a portfolio of content. It’s also their path to social media stardom. The most followed user on TikTok is Gen Z student, Charli D’Amelio. At just 17-years-old, Charli has a following of 117.2 million followers (and counting), and has formed partnerships with brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, Takis and Morphe Cosmetics, to name a few.

Gen Z are moving away from millennial ways. They don’t just read and watch content, they make it. They are creators, and working in tandem with brands to produce content has quickly become a desirable job prospect for today’s young people. To win Gen Z, your brand needs to get into the heart of this community; working with its influential members to strike gold with the wider audience.

student wearing a backpack taking a picture

TikTok as ‘shoppertainment’ - changing up the retail experience

As digital natives, Gen Zs are accustomed to seeing ads as they scroll, or brand emails in their inbox. There is often a misconception that students don’t respond well to online advertising, but you might be surprised to learn that this is not the case for the general cohort.

Gen Zs enjoy using TikTok to express themselves and be creative, and they equally appreciate seeing content or ads that are innovative and, of course, authentic. If your brand's digital marketing is aligned with these key qualities, you’re onto a winner with young consumers. 55% of US students said they have made a purchase after seeing a product or brand on TikTok, and 46% go on TikTok for shopping content and inspiration.

As a result, more brands are increasing their use of ‘shoppertainment’ and gamification in their TikTok strategy - using influencers, affiliate links and advertisements to entice young consumers onto their brand’s site and make a lasting impression.

The results speak for themselves. Online fashion retailer and Student Beans partner, Princess Polly, recently ran a TikTok campaign to promote their Student Beans discount code. The campaign was one of their highest performing discount codes ever, generating nine million impressions, 1.05% click through rate and an impressive 15x return on ad spend. So, what are you waiting for?

Now you know more about the Gen Z TikTok community, check out our guide - An Inside Look at Generation TikTok - to help enrich your marketing strategy.

1,000+ brands trust Pion

Ready to see how Pion can supercharge your sales targets?