Gen Z Are Key Voices in Today’s Creator Economy - Hope 103.2

Gen Z Are Key Voices in Today’s Creator Economy

A kind of gig economy for digital spaces, the creator economy involves those who are using online platforms to publish and monetise content.

By Michael McQueenFriday 30 Jun 2023WorkReading Time: 5 minutes

Within an economy increasingly characterised by precarity and uncertainty, the growing class of creators represents an alternative approach to money-making.

The “creator economy” is largely driven by Gen Zs, who are increasingly turning away from conventional career paths and towards options with greater independence and flexible.

Also working its way into the mainstream, the creator economy is a kind of gig economy for digital spaces.

Online places where individuals use platforms to publish and monetise content.

Posting on Instragram, TikTok, YouTube, Patreon or Substack, the content of the creator economy is as diverse as the creators producing it.

Whether through subscriptions, brand partnerships or advertising, creators are able to generate income through the appeal of their content.1

Independence and flexibility, as well as the possible incentive of fame and fortune, make up a significant part of the value offered through the creator economy.

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However, research has revealed that much of a creator’s motivation lies in their ability to pursue personal passions and engage in meaningful, challenging work.

Nearly half of creators report that self-expression is a core motivation for their engagement in the creator economy; about 40 per cent reported the pursuit of a passion as crucial.2

These motivations fall clearly in line with the qualities which characterise one of the biggest groups driving the creator economy – Gen Z.

Well over half of Gen Z creators stated their crucial motivations include the opportunity to: make a difference in the world; engage in interesting work; have flexible hours, and; reach a large audience with their ideas and creations.3

A strong impulse for independence

Gen Z’s affinity with the creator economy comes as no surprise, given their characteristics as a generation.

With a strong impulse for independence, deep convictions for social causes and a high prioritisation for authenticity, Gen Zs are readily challenging the status quo as workers and consumers.

Gen Zs have been raised with a strong sense of self and imagine themselves as being people of influence when they get older.

A 2021 study examining this dynamic found about 40 per cent of Gen Z women and 45 per cent of Gen Z men describe themselves as being a future leader.4

The aspirational nature of Gen Z has also shaped their sense of personal optimism.

When asked how optimistic they are when it comes to their prospects for success during the next five years, the average rating out of 10 was 7 for males and 6.65 for females.5

This sense of influence and optimism lends itself to the pursuit of work within the creator economy, which places the pressure on the individual to constantly create content, market it and monetise it.

Further, Gen Zs have simply never known a world without the Internet.

Not only are they working and socialising there, they feel most at home there.

In a 2021 study by Coefficient Capital, 45 per cent of Gen Zs say they feel most like their authentic selves online.

In contrast, about 40 per cent said they are most authentic in the real world.6

Where older generations may fail to consider the internet as a potential source of genuine income, more than 35 per cent of Gen Z currently earn money through online channels.

For 17 per cent of Gen Z males and 11 per cent of females, the Internet is where they derive all of their income.7

This number is rapidly growing.

Consumers become co-creators

However, Gen Z’s engagement in the creator economy is not limited to their own work and creation, but rather extends to their approach to consuming.

In a stark contrast to the traditional producer-consumer relationship that has historically characterised the market, the consumption empowered by the digital platforms where Gen Z do much of their purchasing means consumers also become co-creators.

This aspect of Gen Z’s typical engagement with content holds important lessons for businesses and brands.

Rather than simply viewing, commenting on and sharing content the way Millennials do, Gen Z are passionate about curating and co-creating material.

Head of Creator Product Marketing at Spotify, Sam Duboff, suggests “the openness of Gen Z to create, meme and remix content is driving enormous engagement and blurring the lines between creator and consumer.”8

For real world brands looking to expand into the younger market, this has meant adjusting their typical marketing strategies.

Consider the example of American apple juice maker Martinelli’s.

This 153-year brand became a viral TikTok phenomenon in May 2020 among Gen Zs.

Users started posting videos where they bit into Martinelli’s plastic bottles to find out if it sounded like biting into a real apple.

Within a week, the #martinelli hashtag had attracted more than 28 million views on TikTok and sales immediately skyrocketed.

The company addressed the fever-pitch fascination on Twitter saying “while we don’t condone biting into plastic, we are happy to see everyone enjoying our products. Have you tried the juice inside? It’s even better than the bottle.”9

Gen Zs are unmistakably at home within the creator economy and are key drivers in its expansion.

Resisting all conventions and traditions of employment, young and ambitious go-getters are taking their personal success and money-making into their own hands.

Driven by the desire for flexibility and autonomy, the pursuit of their passions and a strong impulse for self-expression, today’s creators are redefining what it means to work in the digital age.

Within the creator economy, businesses and brands would do well to consider the blurred lines which now exist between consumers and creators.

In order to best engage younger generations, capitalising on their tendency to act and see themselves as creators and curators will be essential.


1. Florida, R 2022, The Rise of the Creator Economy, Creative Class Group.

2. Florida, R 2022, The Rise of the Creator Economy, Creative Class Group.

3. Florida, R 2022, The Rise of the Creator Economy, Creative Class Group.

4. 2021, “The Australian Generation Z Report,” Millennial Future.

5. 2021, “The Australian Generation Z Report,” Millennial Future.

6.  Sanwal, A. 2021, “Gen Z feel more like themselves online,” CB Insights, 23 December.

7. 2021, “The Australian Generation Z Report,” Millennial Future.

8. 2020, “State of Gen Z Report,” Zebra IQ, September.

9. Schroeder, A. 2020, “Here’s why people are biting into bottles of apple juice on TikTok,” Daily Dot, 1 May.


Article supplied with thanks to Michael McQueen.

About the Author: Michael is a trends forecaster, business strategist and award-winning conference speaker.

Feature image: Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash