To misunderstand today’s youth is to view their digital habits as some sort of a tectonic shift.
Away from the television set.
Away from mass programming.
Away from long-established viewing dayparts.
For that to be true, Generation Z would have had to had started with large screens, habits of watching shows from the big networks, and a regimen of primarily engaging with content during the evening hours.
None of that, in fact, is reality.
Some of those born between 1998 and 2016 undoubtedly had a mobile phone in one hand with a pacifier in the others. We, ummm, had an Etch A Sketch.
While you and I can point to our very own first television as a milestone moment, Gen Z considers getting a phone as an important life event. Today’s teens got their first phone when they were around 12.
Seven in 10 teens told Google that they spend more than three hours per day watching mobile video. And much of the consumption comes via YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram and is user generated rather than Hollywood produced.
Time of day?
The smartphone is in Gen Z’s hands from sun up well past dinner time. Viewing happens on the bus, at the lunch table, during recess, and every other time that this group wants to be entertained, informed or otherwise occupied.
For Gen Z, mobile is the new primetime.
While Fast Company says that “media and market research companies have labeled Generation Z ‘screen addicts’ with the attention span of a gnat,” ignoring the generation’s influence on a company’s business success is a foolish exercise for a marketer.
Gen Z is 26% of the U.S. population with $44B annual purchasing power. Two in three teens make purchases online and of those, more than half are making purchases on their phones.
But capturing their attention is not without challenges. Gen Z is 80% more likely to always be multi-screening compared to their parents, per Tremor Media and Hulu - https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/1784809/Gen%20Z/TremorVideo_Hulu_GenZ_WhitePaper.pdf?t=1498768502219.
Here’s more from an excellent series of reports by Google: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/interactive-report/gen-z-a-look-inside-its-mobile-first-mindset/
“Gen Z never knew the world before the internet - before everything you could ever need was one click away. They never knew the world before terrorism or global warming. As a result, Gen Z is the most informed, evolved, and empathetic generation of its kind. They value information, stimulation, and connection, evident by their affinity for YouTube, Google, and Netfix.
“They also have high hopes for the brands they choose. From Nike to X-Box, they expect big things. As professionals, we should see this as our challenge—to live up to the standard Gen Z has set for us and to continue to inform, inspire, and create products and marketing that facilitate the world in which they want to live.”
Of course, not all Gen Z’ers are the same. It’s prudent for marketers to understand the nuances.
For black teens, mobile music rules.
Eighty-six percent do so on their phones every week, significantly more than all teens, and nearly 6 in 10 say they spend more than three hours every day listening to music on their phones.
Two in three black teens make purchases online, and of those, more than half are making purchases on their phones.
Black teens are more likely to have positive attitudes towards brands, and to consider them 'cool,’ if they feel as though the message is personalized to them.
Nearly one-quarter of all 13- to 17-year-olds are Hispanic, and they are the fastest-growing teen demographic.
While listening to music is the top mobile activity, 3 in 4 Hispanic teens say they spend 3+ hours per day watching video on their phones.
Eight in 10 Hispanic teens make purchases online, compared to two-thirds of all teens. And of those who shop online, over half are making most of their purchases on their phones.
As to advertising, Gen Z’ers actually aren’t all that different from you and me.
For teens, ads impact a product’s “cool” factor. What makes a product cool?
- If friends are talking about it
- If I see an ad about it
- If it’s something personalized to me
But when it comes to social media, Gen Z is two to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions, according to a study by IRI https://www.retaildive.com/news/gen-z-twice-as-influenced-by-social-media-as-by-deals/505274/
And Gen Z is twice as likely to convert on mobile. https://www.retaildive.com/news/gen-z-twice-as-likely-to-convert-on-mobile/447867/
This leaves marketers where?
At the least, in need of a mental shift that causes us to look at today in an entirely new way. Just as Gen Z is doing.