The 2023 Gen Z Subculture Field Guide

November, 2023

To reach Gen Z, brands need to cheat the system. To learn how, reach out to:

Last year, we launched the inaugural Gen Z Subculture Field Guide to help marketers understand and connect with Gen Z’s niche interests, fluid identities, and passionate communities. Since then, Horizon’s WHY Group and Blue Hour have leveraged subcultures as a cheat code for brands to develop an intuition for unique creative and media strategies that foster stronger connections with Gen Z audiences. Subcultures are both the inspiration (input) and the filter (output) for brands to stand out and break through.  

This year, we’ve uncovered ten brand-new subcultures across five categories: Identity, Entertainment, Sports, Retail, and Music.

Why Subcultures

Subcultures drive social media culture. And for Gen Z, social media culture is culture. The rise of these subcultures alongside Gen Z’s fluid, fragmented, and often contradictory interests means that marketers must ditch demos and embrace niche communities. 

The Era of “Mass Niche” is Upon Us

Spurred by prolonged periods of social isolation and widening societal division, a growing hunger for like-minded communities is booming and uniting people across identities and interests, especially among Gen Z.

They’re diving into niche passions and fandoms for connection, driving broader culture and commerce. And while they live “Extremely Online” lives, they are not entirely confined to digital spaces. Connecting IRL is important, but digital stands as the entry point to their tight-knit communities. 

Subcultures: the Cheat Code to Building Gen Z Intuition 

Gen Z’s fluid and fragmented interests will make traditional audience segmentation obsolete. Today, marketers must embrace subcultures as a new way to understand this audience. Approaching Gen Z as a broad group comprised of fixed audience segments won’t lead to connection. Embracing fluid, niche communities is the new way to reach youth culture. 

We use subcultures as a ‘cheat code’ to create closer connections with passionate audiences and their personalized feeds and to build distinct creative and media activations that are relatable to wider audiences. 

To read the full report, click ‘Download PDF’ below.

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