More and more companies are now focusing their marketing efforts towards Gen Z (born from 1997 onwards) rather than Millennials (born between 1981-1996).
As widely reported, Gen Z are digital natives. Born into a high-tech, high networked world and accustomed to having information readily accessible to them. They have never known a time without the internet and probably can’t imagine life before the smartphone.
And, for the most digitally-native generation yet, brands need to stay one step ahead and understand their behaviour. There are many key differences between Gen Z and Millennials. And maybe one particularly evident is the content that they consume.
So what are the media consumption trends which marketers should note to stay ahead of the game?
Gen Z has different viewing behaviours and content interests. Gen Z users are attracted to social platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Twitch or Snapchat.
Popular culture comes top when we ask Gen Z about their strongest interests. Around 7 in 10 report having an interest in music, and 6 in 10 have an interest in movies. Other forms of entertainment, such as gaming, extreme sports and urban art are also popular amongst Gen Z’s interests, while gambling and local issues are the least interesting for the generation.
As discussed, Gen Zs are a constantly-connected group who multitask across multiple screens. Another key example of this is second-screening – a completely mainstream behaviour among this generation. 95% say they were using another device the last time they were watching TV, with mobiles central to this (89% are dual screening via a mobile).
With gaming a key interest for this group, it’s not surprising that playing games is one of the top second-screening actions. But what is striking is that the top activities tend to be a distraction from the content on the main screen, rather than a compliment. 35% are searching for information related to what they’re watching, and 20% say they interact with the online content of a TV show.
Given the considerable importance attached to smartphones, it’s to be expected that these devices are the go-to for all online behaviors. In particular, mobiles have a considerable lead over PCs/laptops for video-sharing and social related behaviors.
Generation Z are clocking up nearly 7 hours a day online. A considerable 1 hour 13 minutes of this time is being spent watching online TV.
The availability of flexible and on-demand access to TV shows and films is something that resonates strongly with these young internet users. And mobile is quickly catching up with televisions as Gen Z’s most popular device to watch any type of TV, including live, on-demand and subscription services.
As it was founded in 2005, YouTube has been a thing for basically all of Gen Z’s life. They have widely adopted the platform into their media consumption process, and it’s their top preferred platform for consuming video content.
85% of teens now consume content on YouTube. That shift away from traditional TV – and towards the shorter clip-style presentation of the platform – has lead to a whole new approach to video content, while it’s also seen the rise of vloggers – an entirely new category of celebrity.
Online personalities typically upload low-budget and highly personal videos of themselves, through which they connect with their audience. From a brand perspective, it’s important to note the role that vloggers are playing. Endorsements by influencers are now also considered to be more trustworthy and authentic than those from celebrities and sports stars. This is a key trend to note.
But it’s not just entertainment that makes YouTube a hit with younger users – according to research, 80% of Gen Z teens say that the platform has helped them become more knowledgeable about something. YouTube has become a valuable and trusted learning resource. In fact, most students now prefer YouTube videos over textbooks, and many search for DIY videos and how-tos.
The trend underlines the expanding use of the platform, which has various implications for how you can utilize videos to better connect with younger audiences.
Another key video trend of note among younger audiences is Snapchat. Snap’s Discover section underline a significant shift in video consumption habits. Snap shows are shot vertically, and episodes average only five minutes in length. The rise of this content format signals a major shift in video expectation among younger audiences, with content that’s aligned to how they watch.
TikTok saw a significant rise in 2019, mostly within the Gen Z age range. TikTok’s content is much shorter than content on YouTube, with a limit of 15-second per clip. The most popular content on TikTok right now is lip syncs, viral dance crazes, and humorous sketches.
Creativity within the medium is highly encouraged by the TikTok community, who engages and follows little-known video creators, turning them into TikTok stars.
There are two types of creators on TikTok at present – those with large followings on other platforms who are trying out the latest new thing, and unknown, new creators who are finding an audience within TikTok. Over time, these approaches are leading to a new, dedicated style that’s unique to the platform, which, given its current popularity, could lead to another significant shift in Gen Z video content consumption.
No matter how you look at it, video content is changing, and brands need to keep up with these relevant shifts in order to maintain connection with younger audiences.
As Forbes puts it, the key to Gen Z is video content which is “relevant, meaningful, and authentic”. Gen Zers are keenly aware when they are being sold to, so content bombarded with cold marketing and logos is going to fail with this generation.
As long as you recognize such trends, and take the time to consider what Gen Z viewers are expecting, you’ll be able see success with these digital natives.
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