60% of Gen Z Storytellers more likely to buy from brands representing diverse identities in ads

Football Beyond Borders’ spoken word project, ‘Beyond Bars’, looked to empower disadvantaged UK youth

Social media agency We Are Social has surveyed users of social reading platform Wattpad and found the vast majority (87%) believe media and advertising needs to be inclusive in its representation of diverse and minority identities.

The All Tomorrow’s Stories report comprises the thoughts of over 1,000 members of Wattpad’s online community. This sample group of ’Gen Z Storytellers’ is predominantly female and with a greater proportional representation of marginalized voices than a nationally represented sample, giving a specialist view on storytelling, representation and how both will evolve in the future. 89% are aged 16-20, 79% female, 29% of diverse ethnic heritage, 25% are neurodiverse, 14% have a disability and 10% are non-binary.

What did the research find?

  • ​​87% of Gen Z Storytellers agree that media and advertising has a responsibility to be inclusive in its representation of diverse and minority identities

  • 60% of Gen Z Storytellers say they are more likely to buy from brands that represent diverse and minority identities and experiences in their adverts and on social media – even if they don’t belong to these groups.

  • Only 15% of respondents of diverse ethnic heritage felt their ethnic identity was well represented in media and advertising

  • Only 15% of respondents with a disability felt their ability was well represented in media and advertising

  • Almost 60% of respondents saw themselves represented on social media - the highest scoring media type in the survey

The wider aim of All Tomorrow’s Stories is to shed light on the importance of representation. The study’s findings, therefore, go on to offer four ways in which brands can better approach representation, including amplifying underrepresented voices, celebrating and elevating untold stories, facilitating spaces for audiences to see and be themselves, and going beyond box-ticking and stereotyping in representation.

It also includes interviews with eight Gen Z Storytellers, offering a look at the impact of inadequate or absent representation on an individual and emotional level. Viewpoints from this group are featured throughout the report, including personal experiences that add lived history to the survey results.

These sit alongside an expert view from British broadcaster and producer Jasmine Dotiwala, which places the insights into the context of wider media and industry trends.

The work by We Are Social and Wattpad mirrors similar findings by the ASA. Its report earlier this month found that around half of respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds said they were not portrayed accurately, and that half of all respondents felt ads showing discrimination toward particular ethnic groups (51%) or showing ethnic groups in a degrading way (50%) had the potential to cause harm.