Embracing the Micro-Joy: The Rise of Realness with BeReal


In an era characterised by digital connectivity, Generation Z (Gen-Z) is flipping the narrative and rebelling against the looming macro-economic crisis by indulging in the everyday. From savouring a Starbucks iced latte to enjoying a spontaneous sunset with friends, this generation is focused on finding joy in the seemingly mundane aspects of daily life. As brands seek to engage with this demographic, understanding their propensity to treasure the micro-joys is key to success.

Finding any excuse for a celebration

Wil Koslowski, one of our dentsu Strategists in Australia, highlighted in our latest Dentsu Creative Trends Report that “consumers are increasingly finding joy in the simple pleasures of life”. No longer waiting to celebrate the big milestones or occasions, there’s been a shift in consumer behaviour. The younger generations who lived through COVID-19 and felt as though they had many of their big moments stripped from them now want to make the most of every moment. In response to financial worries and general anxieties about the state of the world, the Gen Z demographic is holding onto 'little treats’ to boost their spirits.

‘Little treats’ and fighting back against hustle culture

Whether it’s grabbing a bagel on the way to work or buying a small bunch of flowers on a ‘Sunday self-care day’, Gen-Z uses the concept of ‘little treats’ to help them get through the daily grind. Living in the moment isn’t a new concept, nor is the idea of a delayed gratification approach to consumption. However, during these times of economic uncertainty, it’s interesting to note that despite intense feelings of anxiety about financial situations, 62% of individuals say that they now “treat themselves” more than ever before.

BeReal: The need for authentic connection

The emergence of platforms like ‘BeReal’ encapsulates Gen-Z’s craving for authenticity in the face of unrealistic perfection and unattainable standards within the digital space. The BeReal app encourages users to share unfiltered, random moments in their lives – no matter if they are mundane or extraordinary. By embracing imperfections and highlighting the authenticity of human experiences, BeReal has successfully tapped into Gen Z’s appreciation for life’s small moments.

Instead of sharing highly edited images, all users simultaneously receive a notification, giving them a couple of minutes to capture a snap in real-time and then followers can respond to those candid posts using images of their facial expressions. The app doesn’t allow filters and tells other users how many retakes you took before posting.

By November 2023, BeReal had been downloaded more than 100 million times. The app was founded in 2019 but didn’t become popular until 2022, when BeReal began to focus their marketing campaigns on the 16-25-year-old age bracket. Social Shepherd has reported that 98% of BeReal users are under 45, and these newly targeted campaigns resulted in a usage increase of 315%. By September 2022 it was the #1 app in Apple’s App store.

Why was the brand so successful? It offered a change in pace for users. Instead of worrying about filters, followers, likes and ads, BeReal offered a breath of fresh air for users fed up being overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations and highly curated highlight reels. An extension of ‘finsta’ Instagram accounts where users would share funny, candid images and Instagram’s Close Friends feature – BeReal highlights that there is space for more authentic platforms and brands.

How can brands make the most of this behaviour shift?

By acknowledging the small, empathetic moments of a category or product experience, brands can play a more active role in helping consumers enjoy these interactions. The omnipresence of technology for Gen Z has paradoxically ignited an appreciation for offline, tangible experiences.

While you can’t yet buy ad space on BeReal, E.l.f Beauty (cosmetics brand) has seen viral success on TikTok after giving their followers ‘exclusive access’ to behind-the-scenes content by launching their own BeReal account. However, they currently have “too many friends”, so no other users can add them. With no announced plans to monetise the app, BeReal may find it harder to keep up with the big players like Snapchat and Instagram as time goes on.

So, how can brands make the most of these changing consumer behaviours? It’s clear that brands who can understand and enhance ‘little moments of joy’ will thrive. Serving the right message to the right individual in the right moment will be key. Brands that demonstrate empathy and forge emotional connections with their consumers will shine in the face of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis – particularly if they take practical action to support their customers and communities. 

In conclusion

By embracing imperfection and celebrating the beauty of everyday life, brands can foster more genuine connections with consumers. Gen Z’s love for life’s small moments isn’t a passing trend; it’s a fundamental aspect of their worldview. Understanding the psychological drivers behind this shift will help to strengthen brand’s marketing efforts as they attempt to resonate with this demographic. If you want to find out more about these ideas, have a look at The Joy Imperative section of our Dentsu Creative Trends Report.