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SO, ARE WE EXCLUSIVE?

Exploring what young people think about elite and exclusive apps

The tech scene has seen a rise in elite and exclusive apps in recent years. Whether dating apps, social networks, professional hubs, or conversation-based communities, startups are getting creative in order to survive in today’s saturated social space. Tactics to excite and entice audiences to join include everything from stringent application processes, payment fees, celebrity members and endorsements, and even touting 100k waitlists. We spoke with Millennials and Gen Zs from our Cassandra Collective to get their perspective on these types of apps. What defines an “elite” or “exclusive” app? Which elite platforms are they already a part of? And what do they think about the hot, new app Clubhouse? Read below to get their exclusive take.

MILLENNIALS AND GEN ZS DEFINE “ELITE” APPS

We asked Millennials and Gen Zs to describe what features make an app or social media platform “elite” or “exclusive.” Cassandra Collective members agreed that access was a key factor in describing this sort of app, specifically being invitation-only, having to fit certain niche criteria, or having to pay to join. Others felt that content made a big difference is the app’s elite classification - content that offers a highly-desired, unique product or service that’s built on a platform with high-quality design.


  • “I think [elite refers to] when an app is invitation-only it makes it feel exclusive because only certain people can get in. Waiting lists also make it feel exclusive too.” -Shae, 23, TX
  • “I would think of a social media site as elite if you have to pay for it (e.g. membership).” - Ikram, 18, IL
    • “[Elite is] when [apps] have premium content, or content that is exclusive.” - Robert, 26, WI

    EXCLUSIVENESS HAS ADVANTAGES

    Teen and young adults want to know that exclusive apps are doing something for them. Whether Clubhouse, Cameo, Discord, or OnlyFans, users want to see specific and unique benefits. This could mean the ability to create quality connections, join engaging conversations, feel part of meaningful communities, or make money.


    • “A few of my friends and I are in Clubhouse. They think it’s a good app to network and learn about topics that we’re interested in.” - Santiya, 24, NC
    • “I have my own discord server that is elite because it offers many services and has lots of members with linear growth every day. Around 200 to 400 members join a day.” - Lance, 14, FL
    • “I am a part of some blockchain social media sites that allow me to earn.” - Brandon, 31, CA

    EXCLUSIVENESS CAN BE ALSO BE A TURNOFF

    Not everyone is into the hype about exclusive apps. Apps that are invite-only and have waitlists actually make some young people feel turned off by such “exclusiveness.” With little to no information about these apps, young people often jump to judge. This style of app does not align with inclusivity, which is increasingly important to collective culture, but especially for younger audiences who prefer to have everyone–regardless of background, schooling, career, financial status, age, size, and race– invited.


    • “I don’t really know much [about Clubhouse], I feel like it’s just hype.” - Amanda, 16, CA
    • “I do not think I would use it [Clubhouse] because it sounds too snobby and exclusive.” - DK, 32, OK
    • “[Elite and exclusive apps] seem very discriminatory to me.” - John, 18, IL
    • “Exclusivity can breed hate and an echo chamber of people with the same opinions.” - Danita, 19, PA