Move over Baby Boomers. 2024 will be the first time Gen Z—those born between 1997 and 2012—represents a larger portion of the U.S. workforce than their elders born between 1946 and 1964¹. And that’s a big deal for both employers and marketers, who now must prioritize a totally unique set of values, expectations and preferences.  

In our recent webinar, Gen Z and the Rise of TikTok, we explored some of the most pressing implications—and the pivotal role TikTok plays in this new era of engagement.


Gen Z: Redefining the American Dream

First, let’s examine some common characteristics of a Gen Zer (also known as a Zoomer).  

Digitally native – They’ve grown up in an environment where technology and the internet are ubiquitousshaping their communication, learning and social interactions from an early age.

"Gen Z sees the physical and digital worlds as a seamless continuum of experiences that blend offline and online information for entertainment, commerce and communication."

- Insider Intelligence

Resilient – Despite the global pandemics, political turmoil and environmental crises that marked their formative years, Gen Z has demonstrated an ability to harness technology for activism and community support. 

Idealistic – They’re driven by a desire to create a better world for future generations, and have a deep-rooted belief in equality, justice and sustainability. 

Working to live – Flipping the “work to live” mindset of previous generations on its head, Gen Z seeks a healthy balance between work and their personal lives, leaving more space for hobbies and passion projects. 

Entrepreneurial – Also known as the DIY generation, Gen Z’s intrinsic relationship with technology translates to more jobs, projects or business endeavors outside of one’s primary source of income or main occupationalso known as the side hustle.


of Gen Z have some kind of side hustle

For a deeper dive into Gen Z,check out our recent report!

gen z report mockup

Gen Z’s Digital Playground: TikTok

Among all the social media platforms, TikTok reigns supreme with Gen Z. The generation represents 60% of TiKTok users and 80% use the app daily. It’s where they spend their time–and their money, with nearly 75% of Gen Zers having bought something after seeing it on TikTok²

So, what’s TikTok’s secret sauce? 

Keep your attention – The platform keeps users engaged with a unique combination of personalized content, creative tools, community-driven challenges and interactive features.

Average time spent per day on social media platforms in the United States in 2023 (minutes)

Graph of average time spent per day on social media platforms

Source: Statista

Bite-size video – Whereas other platforms host various types of content, TikTok has focused exclusively on perfecting the art of short-form videoand Gen Z loves them some bite-size video. From their advanced algorithm and creative tools to ease of discoverability and virality, TikTok just dominates here.

Consumer use of TikTok as a search engine by generation

Graph of social media marketers

Source: Statista

Empower experts to be influencers – With its educational content format and seamless monetization opportunities, droves of subject matter experts have planted their flag on TikTok to grow their personal brand and business. 

Reimagine search – Gen Z is hungry for education, but doesn’t see why information can’t also be entertaining. That’s why many are now using TikTok as their de facto search engine, instead of Google.

Consumer use of TikTok as a search engine by generation

Source: Adobe

Embrace community – Gen Z users are an actively engaged community on TiKTok. They’re heavily influenced by their like-minded peers, looking to them for input and trusting the feedback they receive.  

Democratize information – Gen Z doesn’t trust traditional media nearly as much as older generations. Much to their parents’ surprise, many Zoomers rely on TikTok for news, health advice and finance tips.

Percentage of U.S. adults who regularly get news from TikTok, by age group

Graph of TikTok news

What’s a marketer to do with all this?

There’s a common thread that runs through all the data on Gen Z and TikTok: Authenticity. Any content that feels performative, pandering or fake doesn’t just miss the mark with Gen Z, it turns them off. They’re a discerning and loyal group who aren’t easy to win back once you’ve lost them. And they trust TikTok as their go-to source for realness on just about every topic—more than other social platforms and way more than mainstream media.  

Brands that show up genuinely and transparently on the platform, warts and all, stand to connect best with this coveted cohort. For example: If you’re doing good for the planet and sustainability, that should be an integral part of your brand messaging. But, again, substance over style is the key. You better be able to back up everything you say with tangible evidence. When it comes to Gen Z and TikTok, fake news doesn’t fly. 

Lastly, we’re all intently watching what develops from the recent House bill that would lead to a nationwide ban of TikTok if its China-based owner doesn’t sell within six months. There will be a ton to unpack between now and then.

Collage with ballerina, moon, umbrella and door

We could talk about this stuff all day.

Check out our recent webinar with the Marketing Club of New York.
Hit us up at to chat about how we can weaponize this research to help your brand better connect with Gen Z.

¹Glassdoor, 2024 Workplace Trends (2023)
²Her Campus Media, TiKTok survey (2023)