Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

What the demise of a flagship NFT and rise of BeReal mean about Gen Z’s changing mood

July 21, 2022, 5:06 PM UTC
Teens looking at a phone
Gen Z is moving from an interest in NFTs to a new unfiltered social app.
Getty Images

In the constantly shifting world of Gen Z trends, social media fads like viral dances or social-media challenges can come and go in an instant, and sometimes the financial markets tell us which way things are going.

Right now, the market says NFTs are very 2021 and BeReal is very 2022. Young adults expressing their identity with a digital avatar is out, being replaced by unfiltered pictures, shared with friends on social media. 

The BeReal app was created about two years ago by a France-based team that has quickly found a mass following. On Monday, it became the top free app on Apple’s App Store with around 20 million downloads, according to FastCompany, citing data from mobile data provider Sensor Tower.

Meanwhile, the prices for NFTs, a one-time Gen Z obsession, have been nosediving in the midst of a crypto winter that has seen Bitcoin drop to its lowest levels since December 2020. The median price of an NFT in late November, when crypto prices were near their all-time-highs, was about $695, but by Sunday it was down 93% to about $50, according to industry tracker Dune

Moonbirds fall to earth

The once high-flying Moonbirds collection is perhaps the best example of an NFT with clipped wings. The collection, which logged $485 million in sales when it first launched in April, had just over $15 million in sales in June, a 96% decrease in just a few months.

Instead of NFTs, which often highlight the artwork of others, BeReal is attracting users in part because it highlights one of the younger generation’s favorite interests: keeping tabs on those in their immediate social circles. 

According to a May report by GoKnit, a data and analytics company focused on Gen Z, young people born between 1997 and 2012 spend about 4.5 hours on their phones every day, and spend 40% of that time on social media. For 75% of respondents, their main reason for being on social media was to keep up with friends and family.

Yet, unlike their older millennial counterparts, GoKnit’s data indicates that Gen Z social media users are not looking for such a polished social media experience and instead favor social media content that they perceive as more down to Earth.

BeReal paints itself as the anti-Instagram, focusing less on the Millennial tendency to publish an idealistic version of themselves online, and honing in on Gen Z’s preference for the unfiltered.

At a random time, once a day, the BeReal App will prompt the user to take a selfie and a photo of what they’re currently doing, which they can share with their close friends or a broader network.

Although it’s the social trend of the moment, so too, once, were NFTs. After digital artist Beeple sold the most expensive NFT at the time for $69 million at the auction house Christie’s, the technology’s popularity exploded. 

By the end of June, as crypto winter set in, sales volume on the biggest NFT exchange, OpenSea, dropped 75% from the previous month. It’s yet to be seen if the BeReal app, with its unique but simple features will suffer from the same declines as NFTs or weather the beam of Gen Z’s fleeting interests.

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.