Cuspers: Creative, Stressed, Impulsive – Fullscreen Generational Study Shines Light on the Unique Life Stage Between Millennials and Gen Z

Cuspers: Creative, Stressed, Impulsive - Fullscreen Generational Study Shines Light on the Unique Life Stage Between Millennials and Gen Z

New Research Showcases What Brands Need to Do to Appeal to ‘Cuspers’ (ages 19-25) Who Fall in Between Millennials and Gen Z

Fullscreen, a global leader in social-first entertainment, serving both talent and brands, unveiled findings from a comprehensive study that dives into generational views on identity, the future, the impact of technology and their financial state. Fullscreen focused on the ‘Cuspers’ cohort (currently aged 19-25) — those sitting right between Millennials and Generation Z. The study found that Cuspers are far more creative than Gen Z and Millennials, with 1 in 4 (25%) feeling most comfortable expressing themselves through the content they create (v. 16% and 18% for Gen Zs and Millennials, respectively).

“Cuspers are an unstudied group and they have a unique perspective on life, money and the future that is incredibly enlightening, as they place a premium on creativity and creating content,” said Maureen Polo, GM of the Brand Studio at Fullscreen. “For those born on the borderline of these generations, a current life stage transition is playing a major role in shaping everything from their outlook on life to their content preferences. Brands especially need to understand these differences to effectively engage with them in a meaningful way.”

Who are the Cuspers?

Cuspers embrace multiple parts of their identity and want to be seen as different from both Millennials and Gen Z, embracing their ‘whole selves.’

  • They are more likely than any other cohort to self-identify as a person of color, minority, LGBTQ or another intersectional identity
  • 1 in 4 feel underrepresented in the media
  • Cuspers are diverse:
    • 55% are Caucasian, compared to 72% of Millennials
    • 23% are African American or Hispanic compared to 9% of Millennials
    • Over a third (34%) feel that diversity is the leading trait that will define them, followed by independence at 28%

Self-Expression at Their Fingertips

Cuspers feel most at ease while creating content and cite creativity as important to them.

  • 25% of Cuspers feel most comfortable expressing their full selves through the content they create (v. 16% and 18% for Gen Zs and Millennials respectively)
  • This lean into creation is also exhibited in the fact that 35% of Cuspers regularly use Stories features across social media platforms (v. 31% for Gen Zs and 21% for Millennials)
  • Top Social Features Used to Express Themselves:
    • The top features used by Cuspers to express themselves include Direct Messages (47%), Reposting Content (43%), and Stories (35%)
    • Cuspers are significantly more likely than both Gen Zs and Millennials to utilize Theme Filters, Live Videos, and Stories
    • Cuspers cite ‘easy way to stay relevant/active on social and ‘feels more authentic/real as the top two reasons for using Stories features
  • Cuspers are fans of content creators too – following on average 25 Influencers (at twice the rate of Millennials) and 12 brands on social platforms

The Future is Uncertain

Cuspers find the future is stressful and many don’t feel the desire to have children.

  • With adult responsibilities either upon them or just over the horizon, Cuspers are feeling the pressure. They are more likely to describe being stressed (36%), excited (34%) and scared (19%) than other cohorts about their futures
  • 1 in 4 (28%) are choosing not to have children, with one of the top reasons being that they don’t want to raise them in the current society (28%)
  • However, they DO want to get married — and while they’re young. Most (38%) think they’ll get married between the ages of 21-25
  • Similar to Gen Zs and Millennials, 61% of Cuspers believe the country is headed in the wrong direction
  • 40% of Cuspers believe the best way to create change for a better tomorrow is by voting in local elections — versus 47% of Millennials who cite voting in national elections as the biggest way to affect change
  • 26% feel strongly about LGBTQ rights as compared to 19% for Millennials

“Cuspers do have earning power and any brand trying to reach this demographic should know that they demand honesty, inclusion, and positivity,” continued Polo. “Because of their outlook on life and transformative life stage, brands must acknowledge and appeal to the new experiences this cohort is navigating to successfully garner their attention and authentically engage with them.”

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All About the Benjamins

Cuspers are still trying to gain their financial footing and find the gig economy useful in that regard.

  • On average, Cuspers spend most of their discretionary income on:
    • Beauty/Fashion ($966 per year)
    • Food & Drink ($905 per year)
    • Entertainment ($680 per year)
  • A little more than half are actively in the workforce (53%) and of those, only half have full-time jobs. The rest are trying to figure out what they want to do after college. This leads to a unique set of stressors:
    • 1. Finances – 30% (47% of Millennials have the same largest stressor)
    • 2. Academics/education – 20% (33% of Gen Z’ers agree this was the biggest stressor for Gen Z)
    • 3. Career opportunities – 20%
  • Of Cuspers who are employed, 77% have a flexible, gig job (vs. 54% Millennials)
  • 27% of Cuspers believe growth of the gig economy is due to a desire to control their time
  • While still figuring out their spending habits, their impulsivity drives them to be early adopters: 61% say they tend to make impulse purchases
  • 45% say they are the first of their friends to try new products

Balancing Act

Although they embody many of the social-first traits seen in Gen Zs, Cuspers are just starting to learn about #adulting. They are comfortable with technology and social media, but many recognize that it’s a love-hate relationship that brings both good and bad.

  • 85% of Cuspers believe that technology is making the world a better place
  • 1-in-4 (25%) Cuspers regularly use a voice assistant and of those, most utilize it to:
    • Stream music (66%)
    • Schedule alarms (64%)
    • Set reminders (60%)
    • Connect with friends (38% v. 23% for Millennials)
  • 1-in-5 (18%) admit they spend too much time on social media; however, most others (47%) state they balance it well
  • About 1-in-4 believe social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves (25%); 40% state no impact, 35% state it has a positive impact
  • Cuspers spend 46 hours on social media platforms each week – +33% more time than Millennials
  • Cuspers spend 8 hours a week on YouTube, more than any other social media platform and also follow influencers at twice the rate of Millennials
  • 58% of Cuspers use video game systems regularly — ahead of Gen Zs (55%) and Millennials (43%).
    • They also use video games more regularly than they do video streaming devices (55%) or mobile gaming (54%)

The research, conducted by Talk Shoppe*, builds on findings from a 2017 Fullscreen study that also looked at several generations and considers the changes over the last two years regarding the economy, technology and the societal atmosphere.

*More than 1,500 13-37-year-olds were surveyed online by Talk Shoppe on behalf of Fullscreen from April-May 2019; in addition, 11 total qualitative interviews were conducted across generations during the same time period.

Fullscreen will be hosting a panel that discusses this generational research alongside Adult Swim, American Eagle, Marriott and Visa at the WarnerMedia House during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France on June 18 at 11:30 a.m. CET. The session will discuss everything from the highs and lows of social media and technology, to understanding new content formats and what makes for relevant storytelling.

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