Gen Z and filters: three key stats that you need to know

A girl looks into the camera

The majority of Gen Zs can tell if you use a filter on a social media image – and many say filters affect how they see themselves. 

If you’re creating content aimed at a Gen Z audience, you’ll be well aware that authenticity is a cornerstone. But in a world where it’s possible to redefine your facial features, skin tone, and body type with just one swipe of a filter, what’s the way forward when it comes to posting on social? 

Gen Zs are more or less 50/50 on filter usage

Roughly, 57% of UK Gen Zs say that they use filters on their posts; this rises to 62% in the US. The most common reason for filter usage among Gen Zs is to improve their footage quality – but a significant proportion of young social media users are drastically altering elements of their appearance via filters. 

UK Gen Zs are more likely to use filters to change their appearance 

Filters can be a fairly harmless way to improve image quality or tap into a funny joke. But more concerningly, they’re a way for social media users to significantly alter how they look. In the UK, 43% of Gen Zs say they use filters for this purpose – in the US, it’s 23%. 

Let’s zoom in on the UK for a moment. Most commonly, UK Gen Zs are using filters to change their faces, followed by altering skin tone then altering body shape. These figures are alarming – particularly when you consider that 40% of teens report that Instagram makes them feel “unattractive”, and 71% of UK Gen Zs say filters affect how they see themselves. 

If you use a filter, most Gen Zs can tell

Increasingly, brands are following in Gen Zs’ footsteps on social media – creating content that they feel will resonate with younger audiences. If you’re questioning whether your brand should ditch the filter, now might be a good time. 88% of Gen Zs say they can tell the difference between a filtered or unfiltered post. 

Gen Zs are also calling for greater transparency around filter use. In the UK, 61% of Gen Zs think that it should be compulsory to say if a filter has been used in a post in some capacity (although 32% believe this should only be the case if you’re a celebrity or influencer). Likewise, in the US, 52% of Gen Zs think that public figures, at least, should disclose filtered content to their followers. 

Ultimately, Gen Zs have grown up in a world of filters – experimenting on Snapchat and hopping on AR-filtered TikTok trends has become a rite of passage. But like many aspects of online culture, brands’ presence will only grow – it’s important to consider whether you’re entertaining your audience, or hindering their confidence. 

This blog is part of our authenticity edit. Next up: The biggest Gen Z fashion icons of 2021

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