As 2020 finally comes to an end, Gen Z’s favorite photo editing app VSCO surveyed their audience to find out how this generation dealt with the events of this year, and the results are incredibly, alarmingly, not shocking at all.

VSCO is a trendy, highly curated app where users can edit and post photos using preset filters and editing tools, a favorite of Gen Z’s for sunset and food pics as well as personal art and photography. In November 2020, JUV Consulting for VSCO conducted an online survey of 1,000 U.S. respondents in order to take the pulse of how Gen Z is feeling as 2020 wraps up. This Year in Review Survey covered everything from creativity to spending money and self-care to social media, confirming just how unique Gen Z truly is.

SEE ALSO: How I Made It: iNNBeauty Project co-founder Alisa Metzger on how Gen Z is making the world a better place

Creativity in a pandemic

Creativity was at the forefront of 2020 for most of Gen Z, and according to VSCO, 34% of respondents said that finding ways to be creative was a key coping mechanism throughout this year. Certainly, for us, photography, writing, reading, art, and music have been essential throughout this year. Whether it was learning a new dance on TikTok or immersing ourselves in a new album (strictly “Positions” by Ariana Grande), consuming and creating content has served as an escape from the chaos of the world.

Even though we have been stuck inside on a loop most days, being creative has been an outlet for Gen Z to get back in touch with themselves and express their individuality, or even learn something new. YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok have been the most frequented destinations for hacks, DIY and crafting activities.

The importance of connection in 2020

With technology and social media serving as a means to connect with friends and family safely throughout the pandemic, 32% of VSCOs’ respondents said that finding ways to stay connected was a key coping mechanism amidst the stress of this year. We could not agree more. This year we’ve spent more hours on Zoom and FaceTime than ever before, playing Among Us, Netflix-partying, and teaching our grandparents what the word “FaceTime” means.

Gen Z at the intersection of beauty, fashion, and self-care

Despite the craziness that ensued everywhere else, Gen Z took self-care seriously. 19% of respondents said that finding ways to practice self-care was a successful coping mechanism throughout the year. They even said that moisturizer, face wash, and face masks were products they couldn’t live without. A little extra self-care has been a great way to relieve stress and turn attention inwards.

When it came to fashion and beauty trends this year, it was all about minimalism and comfort. Since the pandemic required us to stay confined inside, Gen Z went straight to sweats and comfy, oversized clothes. Goodbye, Missguided body-con dress! But when it came to fashion trendsetting this year, Y2K and nostalgia was all the rage. From tracksuits to crop tops to padlock necklaces, when we needed to get dressed up for a TikTok, the 2000’s was our go-to inspo.

For the majority of time spent in virtual school and meetings, the natural fresh-faced look made Gen Z feel most beautiful. Prioritizing feeling their best in their own skin, Gen Z turned more to skincare than extravagant makeup looks. However, respondents said that fashion and beauty inspired by HBO’s “Euphoria” was all over their mood boards.

Shopping for self-love and inclusivity

2020 made Gen Z rethink their shopping habits and what is most important to them when making buying decisions. 65% of respondents said that they spent their money on food and drink, 59% on clothes and 57% said skincare products. On average, Gen Z said they would spend $80 on improving mental health including therapy, mediation, and mental health apps. Clearly, self-love and personal care was a central theme when it came to consumer spending this year.

When making these buying decisions, Gen Z said price, quality, sustainability, inclusivity, and political activism were at the forefront of their radar. When asked what fashion and beauty brand they think is most inclusive, Gen Z said Fenty all the way. Respondents even went as far as saying Fenty was one of the top brands they most want to work for, along with Google and Apple.

Looking forward to 2021

Gen Z’s opinions and emotions as reflected in 2020 are only the beginning. 2021 brings a new year, full of promise, hope, and goals – for the first time in a long time.

When it comes to the activities that Gen Z wants to get back to next year, traveling, parties, hanging out with friends, and a return to in-person school topped the list. Though they want more time spent on flights and with the homies, they want to spend less time on social media – 54% of survey respondents want to reduce their social media time in 2021.

Less time wasted scrolling mindlessly is not the only social media goal that this survey revealed. Gen Z wants to spend next year posting and consuming overall better content: 35% of respondents want to post more positive content, 34% want to be more authentic and less refined, and 32% want to follow more friends and people they actually know, rather than celebrities and influencers.

The lessons 2020 taught Gen Z

2020 has challenged us in ways we never imagined. But it has also taught us formidable lessons in strength, compassion, and accountability. Gen Z is done with bulls***, and is holding anyone and everyone accountable in 2021. They want to see less cancel culture, violence, and performative activism and see more tech companies taking concrete stances.

63% of survey respondents are urging tech companies to tackle the negative mental health impact of their products, and take a clear stance on political and human rights issues, including 73% of LGBTQ+ respondents. 59% want companies to do a better job at regulating misinformation, and 56% need them to do more to protect user data and privacy. Finally, 63% want tech companies to build more products and services geared specifically towards Gen Z.

Gen Z is powerful, authentic, and unapologetic – and we can say that because we ourselves are Gen Z. Though 2020 brought pain and struggle in unimaginable ways, it also brought creativity, investment, and true passion to the surface. In 2021, y’all can be certain that Gen Z will continue to shatter glass ceilings, invent trends and TikTok dances, and hold the rest of the world accountable for their actions.


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