Who is using the social media “BeReal.,” a Gen Z trend and does not allow photo editing? Is Gen Z really “de-editing”?

Who is using the social media “BeReal.,” a Gen Z trend and does not allow photo editing? Is Gen Z really “de-editing”?

BeReal. is a new social media app that has recently become popular among Gen Z. What kind of app is it, and who are its users? We investigated its usage by comparing it with existing social media apps.


The new social media app for Gen Z

In a research on trends among the youth conducted by LINE Research, “BeReal.” ranked 4th as an social media app likely to become popular in the future.
In fact, as a result of conducting interviews and questionnaires with Gen Z, it was ranked second in popularity following the anime “Oshi no Ko” in SHIBUYA 109 lab. Trend Award’s content category.

Material from LINE Research translated by VALUES

Material from Shibuya109 lab. translated by VALUES

In a survey of 150 Gen Z respondents conducted by RECCOO Co., LTD., 49% of people answered that they use BeReal., around the same as TikTok at 50%, and it certainly seems to be showing signs of becoming a trend.

Material from PR TIMES translated by VALUES

What kind of app is “BeReal.”?

BeReal. is a French social media app released in 2020 where users can post unedited photos within a random two-minute window that is alerted through notifications at random times every day. The short time limit is intended to deliver and promote realism.
Another notable feature is that both the front and back cameras are photographed at the same time.

It differs from other social media, such as Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), in the following five ways.

・You can only post images as they are taken, and it does not have an option for editing or adding text
・When you can post depends on the notification from the app
・It is only visible to those within your “friends” list or the “friends of friends”
・Since the “friend” relationship is mutual, “influencers” do not exist
・To see posts made by your friends, you must post as well

There are many aspects that are not possible with the usual social media apps, and it feels like there is a possibility for a new trend.

Next, we will compare BeReal. users with other social media users, analyze them in more detail, and explore their underlying needs. For analysis, we will use VALUES' online behavior analytics tool “Dockpit,” which allows you to analyze competitors’ websites and research trends using behavioral data that is updated monthly, all within your browser.

Most users are in their 20s. Another feature is that it is often used in combination with Threads.

The major difference between BeReal. users and other social media (TikTok/Threads/Instagram/X) users is their age distribution. While other social media platforms seem to be widely used by people of all ages, nearly 80% of BeReal. users are in their 20s.

Furthermore, in terms of gender distribution, although there is a slight difference, men account for more than half of the users, indicating that it is used regardless of gender. This ratio is close to X (formerly Twitter), which indicates that although BeReal. has the characteristic of posting photos, it is not only popular among women.

“BeReal./TikTok/Threads/Instagram/X” app users' gender and age group ratio
Tool: Dockpit
Period: November 2022 - October 2023
Device: Smartphone

The average number of days the app is opened per month is 8.0 days, which is less than X's 15.7 days and Instagram's 13.8 days, but it is approaching TikTok's 10.1 days, and is expected to become more popular in the future.

“BeReal./TikTok/Threads/Instagram/X” Number of app users and monthly average number of active app days
Tool used: Dockpit
Collection period: November 2022 to October 2023
Device: Smartphone

Looking at the usage in combination with other social media, we found that more than half of the users use BeReal. in combination with Threads, a result that cannot be seen with TikTok. Since Threads can be started from an Instagram account, it is thought that the high rate of Instagram usage among BeReal. users is also influencing the use of Threads in combination with BeReal. In addition, the “love for new things” and “no resistance to the use of new social media and tools” among people in their 20s may be one of the reasons why the combination use among both is high.

Combined websites/apps use with BeReal./TikTok
Tool: Dockpit
Period: November 2022 - October 2023
Device: Smartphone

The reason why BeReal. is becoming more popular among people in their 20s may be due to the difference in the way content is posted.
Instagram and X, which are currently widely-used social media, allow users to post their favorite photos or texts whenever they want.

On the other hand, with BeReal., as mentioned earlier, the posting time depends on app notifications that arrive at random times. It is possible to post even if the user is “late” after receiving the notification, but in order to be able to post on time, users must be constantly have their smartphone with them to use at any time. In fact, one review on the app store said, “I live my life worrying about when the notification will come all day long.”

Material from the App Store's BeReal. reviews translated by VALUES

I used BeReal. for about two weeks to find out how it feels to use the app and the timing of notifications, but I missed it quite a bit because the notifications come very randomly, mainly during the time when I am the most active and busy (10:00 AM – 10:00 PM).

Being in their 20s who is a digital native and spends a lot of time online may be why they are able to answer to BeReal.'s random notifications. In that respect, it seems that generations with small children may not be able to pay attention it.

In addition, in order to see the posts of users who are registered as “friends,” you must also post, so you cannot become a so-called “ROM (Read Only Member),” a Japanese-made English word, which raises the bar when it comes to using the app.

Are people “de-editing”?

One of the reasons young people use BeReal. is that it does not allow for any editing or filtering.
In fact, in a research conducted by JustSystems Corporation, Gen Z's reasons for using BeReal. were it “allows me to show my real self” and “frees me from the pressure to edit my photos.”

Material from Appliv translated by VALUES

Are BeReal. users really freed from the pressure of editing? We will analyze the actual situation based on the usage of the app.

The following (partial excerpts) shows the rankings of apps that interest to users of BeReal. and various social media platforms such as TikTok, Threads, Instagram, and X, and although there is a difference in the rankings, you can see that the app “SNOW” is in all the rankings.

“BeReal./TikTok/Threads/Instagram/X” user's interest apps (prioritizing combined use rate)
Tool: Dockpit
Period: November 2022 - October 2023
Device: Smartphone

“SNOW” is a camera app that allows you to edit images for free, and it is gaining popularity because it allows you to easily edit the skin, add makeup, add filters, etc.

Let's take a look at the usage status of “SNOW” and five social media platforms (BeReal., TikTok, Threads, Instagram, X) in the one month, limited to people in their 20s, BeReal.'s main user group. According to the values in the bar graph shown below, BeReal. has the second highest combined use rate after Threads.

At first glance, this result may seem to contradict the survey data, but it could be argued that stress is felt more easily precisely because the rate of combined use is high. BeReal. users may be interested in social media that cannot be edited as a reaction to using editing apps on a regular basis. Also, we may see an increase in different kinds of posts using different social media platforms, such as edited photos on TikTok and Instagram, and unedited photos on BeReal.

“SNOW & BeReal./TikTok/Threads/Instagram/X” users’ combined use rates (20s)
Tool: Dockpit
Period: October 2023
Device: Smartphone

The trend of delivering reality as it is may be similar to recent makeup trends.
Words that are often seen in featured articles on makeup trends include “natural,” “translucent,” and “bare skin,” and makeup looks led and driven by hair and makeup artist Hiro Odagiri that takes advantage of your natural skin and bone structure is currently gaining popularity. As society becomes more accepting of diversity, there may be a growing movement toward accepting oneself and others as they are.

Many users seek a realistic experience

Finally, let's take a closer look at the characteristics of BeReal. users.
For analysis, we will use VALUES' analytics tool “story bank” (Japanese only), which uses online behavioral data and survey data to aggregate the movements and attributes of a specific online behavior among target users.

When we looked at the average spending per person of BeReal. users and TikTok users, there was a big difference in the breakdown. It can be said that a large amount of spending on clothing and luxury goods is a characteristic of young people, and it was common for both, but BeReal. users were found to spend particularly high amount of money on “watching live performances and concerts,” “purchasing events and goods,” and “watching sports.”

The common denominator among the three items is that although there is room to enjoy it online, there are many cases where you go to the actual location and enjoy the atmosphere together. Bereal. has many active users who go to the physical location, and they may have a strong desire to share the realism of being there.

Average spending per “BeReal./TikTok” user
Tool: story bank
Period: November 2022 - October 2023
Device: Smartphone

About Dockpit

▼Data from Dockpit was used in this case study. Dockpit is an online behavior analytics tool provided by VALUES, Inc., and it allows you to access online behavioral data (updated monthly) via your browser so you can research competitor websites and investigate trends. There is a FREE version of Dockpit, so if you are interested in using it, please register below.

dockpit Get free version

※日本語での記事はこちらをご確認ください

Z世代トレンド、盛らないSNS「BeReal.」のユーザーはどんな人?Z世代の「脱・加工」は本当に起きている?

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/2991

Z世代を中心に最近流行の兆しを見せている新しいSNS「BeReal.」。いったいどのようなアプリなのか、どのようなユーザーが使っているのか。既存のSNSとの比較から、その利用実態を調査しました。

この記事のライター

Born and raised in the Bay Area, U.S.A, I was fascinated by the different social and purchasing behaviors between Japanese and American consumers. I studied communication for undergrad and international marketing for my graduate studies. My professional background is in bilingual recruitment and Japanese-English translation.

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