A brand’s guide to navigating Gen Z’s media consumption habits

Laura Vanison, senior director, consumer and artist insights, Vevo

Gen Z grew up in an era of extreme technological evolution between the late 1990s and mid-2010s. They’re what many brands call digital natives, leading the way in media trends and activity.

As this demographic group enters adulthood, they will soon become the most significant stakeholders in media consumption and hold the most purchasing power. In response, many brands are taking note of their habits and preferences.

In addition to being the most diverse generation, Gen Z has an impressive ability to adapt to technological advancements and changes. Their social media activity allows them to change the paradigm of society at the click of a post or a video upload. They enjoy interactive, culturally relevant content across a variety of platforms.

Yet while it can be easy to locate Gen Z online, it’s more challenging to capture their attention and even more difficult to obtain their loyalty. That’s why brands are seeking to understand this demographic group’s media consumption habits to encourage and secure buy-in. 

Gen Z’s media consumption habits reveal ideal times for engagement

Gen Z has a circadian rhythm of sorts when it comes to the times they access different platforms, according to a recent study from Publicis Media and Vevo. And while Gen Z’s viewing is spread across devices, it should be no surprise that the majority of their viewing happens on a smartphone (44%).

The study’s insights, drawn from over 2,000 online interviews with people ranging from ages 13 to 54, help highlight the behavioral differences between Gen Z (13-26), millennial (27-40) and Gen X (41-54) consumers. Breaking down these media consumption habits is also uncovering some surprising trends.

For instance, while Gen Z mostly engages with TikTok in the morning and views YouTube in the afternoon, a large portion watch content on-demand through connected TV (CTV) services in the evening. In fact, nearly half of Gen Zers’ (46%) primetime video viewing comes from CTV.

Understanding Gen Z’s rhythmic approach to media consumption can help brands reach consumers at optimal times. These insights can also enable marketers to implement tactics that engage Gen Z consumers more effectively.

Gen Z is connecting with authentic content creators and brands 

Knowing what time of day to reach Gen Z is essential, but understanding who they respond to is even more vital. They’re specifically turning to brands, creators and influencers that foster authentic connection.

Gen Z’s ability to self-produce content pieces has also fueled this desire for authenticity. For instance, 48% of the content Gen Z consumes comes from content creators versus professionally produced content. In addition, research from Cassandra found that 89 percent of young consumers said it’s crucial that influencers are approachable, shedding more light on the qualities Gen Z is looking for in their preferred content creators.

Bretman Rock, a beauty influencer, leaned into these qualities to reach 8.78 million social media subscribers and eventually produce a TV show, ‘Following: Bretman Rock.’ Similarly, musical artist Lil Yachty connected with audiences via memes and music compositions to grow his fandom on social media platforms. His ability to engage fans scored him sponsorship deals with brands such as Sprite, Target and Nautica. 

Brands are emphasizing accountability in Gen Z campaigns

While authenticity is a core value of Gen Z, accountability is even more vital regarding brand expectations. These consumers are not fans of performative acts of service and are certainly not afraid to call them out online, especially when brands are the party in question.

Because Gen Z is the most diverse generation, they expect brands to embody similar values. Being inclusive, authentic and accountable regarding social causes are key value points for this audience. And with the internet at their disposal, they can quickly find out which brands are succeeding (or failing) in this area.

Brands that display values rooted in diversity and use their resources to support social causes will find more opportunities to connect with Gen Z than those that don’t.

How brands are building Gen Z loyalty

Brands delivering engaging, digestible content will have a greater chance of winning Gen Z loyalty in the long run. Emerging brands that embrace an action-forward approach to reach this audience have the potential to outflank established legacy brands simply by keeping up with Gen Z behaviors and preferences.

However, this isn’t an overnight transition, and it’s not something that brands can fake. Analyzing the media trends emerging from Gen Z — and learning from the brands they’re loyal to —- can help marketers catch this generation’s attention. 

Gen Z’s viewing and buying power are immense. Brands that fail to engage with this demographic group in meaningful ways via their media of choice could derail future outreach efforts.

Sponsored by: Vevo


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