No social media platform has a better relationship with the 13 to 22 year old demographic than Snapchat and their plans for monetizing that relationship depart heavily from how their competitors extract value from their users via selling ads. Snap’s new approach revolves around two digital technologies, one of them already mainstream and one of them emergent: e-Commerce and Augmented Reality (AR). AR might sound like science fiction but it’s actually been with us for quite a while and with new devices like AR wearables set to hit the market soon, AR is poised to become a major factor in both digital and traditional advertising. Snapchat is planning on becoming a major player in this new form of marketing.
According to Snap:
“Now is the moment for Augmented Reality, Consumers are excited about it, and brands have a unique chance to boost engagement, elevate consumer experiences and increase revenues. Today, there are more than 100 million consumers shopping with AR online and in store.”
For example, In December of 2020, Snapchat announced a partnership with Perfect Corp, an AR platform that allows users to “try on” makeup and other beauty products without actually applying products directly to their face. Instead, their AR tech allows the consumer to try on a brand's makeup as a Snapchat Lens, which until recently was the reason so many grandparents were seeing pictures of their grandkids with bunny and fawn noses. Now, thanks to Snap’s massive investment in building eCommerce into their platform, if “Tiffany” likes the way that new eye shadow makes her eyes pop on Snapchat, she can swipe to purchase, go back to her day, and wait for her new look to arrive in a day or two, without having stepped foot in a store or apply anything to her actual skin.
But what makes us think that Snapchat’s army of Gen Zers will remain loyal to the platform as they age into the more lucrative 25 to 35 demographic? The answers seem to be authenticity or at least their users’ belief that the Snap platform allows them a place to be their authentic selves as opposed to platforms like Instagram where user-generated content is perceived as a user “putting out only the best of you” or “phony” as Holden Caulfield would say.
What’s driving this perception? One key stat is the on-average lower volume of followers Snapchat users have as compared to Instagram and Facebook users. Because Gen-Z users are more open and honest about themselves on Snapchat, they limit those they connect with to actual friends, as opposed to classmates or neighborhood friends they consider to be mere acquaintances. That’s due to the temporary, burn after reading nature of posting to Snapchat, as opposed to the permanent record that is their Instagram feeds.
As long as Snapchat can continue to strengthen Gen Z’s affinity for their platform, they are poised to become a major force in both advertising AND eCommerce. A feat only accomplished by Amazon so far.