Evan is an Account Manager at Vovia. He originally joined Vovia as an intern while studying at University and liked us so much that he came back for more. He is an avid Hockey and Golf player who also has a passion for playing and collecting guitars.

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Marketing to Gen Z – A Gen Z’s Perspective

It’s safe to say that brands and marketers should all be increasingly concerned with reaching the ever-important and rapidly evolving consumers that we call Generation Z (Gen Z), as both Denise and Cam have touched on in previous blog posts. These teens and young adults born 1995 and onwards now make up close to 40% of the world’s consumers, and that figure only grows when you consider the purchasing power they have within their households. It should go without saying that it is vital for brands to engage and build relationships with this new generation. In this post, I’ll be providing some new insights on Gen Z’s media habits and behaviours, and as Vovia’s resident Gen Z, I’ll also be adding my two cents by providing my opinion on these findings.

Media Habits

It should be no surprise that when spending time with media, Gen Z chooses to be overwhelmingly online. Of course, this tendency has only been enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic with nearly the entire generation working or learning from home. When online, research has shown that Gen Z’s are extremely likely to be on mobile as opposed to a PC or laptop for nearly any activity. Whether searching the web, scrolling on social media, using messaging services, or even purchasing products online, mobile is by far the dominant device  (see below chart from Global Web Index, 2019). Gen Z also loves to be entertained, consuming large amounts of music, video, and online games.

While Gen Z is heavily online and mobile during their free time, they do still show a degree of appreciation for traditional media. In a global survey by IBM, partaking in online activity was the number one way Gen Z’s preferred to spend their free time, but this was closely followed by watching TV and movies as well as reading books or magazines. The majority of Gen Z’s also noted that, when reading, they preferred physical books and magazines to their digital counterparts. Interestingly, these activities tend not to be enjoyed in isolation. Instead, nearly all Gen Z’s (95%) have embraced the “second screen” lifestyle, electing to multi-task and use multiple forms of media at once. For example, many Gen Z’s will watch broadcast television while simultaneously engaging with a phone or tablet. While watching TV, Gen Z’s will use their second device to surf social media, chat with friends, play games, or search for products to buy. 

This brings a challenge to light for advertisers: Gen Z’s attention spans are ever fleeting as they take full advantage of the many media options readily available to them. For example, when advertisers are creating a TV spot or an ad to be placed within a streaming service, it’s not safe to assume that people are looking at the TV or device, making audio that much more important. With that in mind, it’s important to not only understand their media habits but also their engagement behaviours and content preferences.

Behavioural Patterns and Preferences

Availability on Demand: As a consequence of nearly always being online and used to having things available at their fingertips, Gen Z increasingly values things that are available to them right now. This desire for quick service does not mean they’re willing to sacrifice quality, though, as the typical Canadian Gen Z’s top purchase drivers included quality, social responsibility, and familiarity all above the brand name. These were accompanied by the largest driver, price (see chart from Statista below). We can derive from this that, while Gen Z values having things right at their fingertips, they are not willing to sacrifice quality and service to achieve that luxury.

Personal Data: While Gen Z’s may seem to be a difficult consumer to satisfy, and they certainly are somewhat demanding in terms of product and service attributes, they give brands a break concerning the sharing of their personal data. A Marketing Dive survey indicated that Gen Z is generally happy to share personal information with advertisers, given that it helps to provide a more personalized and pleasant experience, and so long as the data is shared on their own terms. They highly value the customization of products and the customer experience, and they understand that certain personal information is necessary to achieve such desires. Their willingness to share data should make Gen Z’s that much more attractive to advertisers given the upcoming death of third party cookies and new privacy policies from giants such as Facebook, Apple, and Google. Overall, Gen Z embraces technological change with most feeling optimistic about technology’s impact on the world, and 75% saying they’d be more likely to buy a product if they could customize it for their own personalized experience.

Entertainment: In line with their heavy consumption of entertainment content, Gen Z is more likely to engage with paid content that provides them with some sort of entertainment value. A Newswire study has shown that the 18-24-year-olds are much more influenced by paid content that aims to entertain, rather than that which simply tells them what to buy or do. This further cements how short Gen Z’s attention span is when engaging with different types of media – if they don’t find entertainment value in an advertisement they will likely look to one of their other devices or channels for something that is entertaining. More than ever, Gen Z’s have options around them to shift attention to something that they feel is worth their time, and the research certainly suggests that they do so.

Summary – A Gen Z’s Perspective

Touching on my personal feelings and habits, I do find that many of the findings in these various sources resonate with me. Though I am now aware of it and do my best to focus on one piece of entertainment at a time, I all too often find myself consumed by the “second screen” lifestyle. When we Gen Z’s are constantly connected to our devices, it can be difficult to resist the urge to multi-task and keep tabs on what’s going on in the social world while watching something like a tv show or movie. From an advertising perspective, if I’m served an ad that doesn’t particularly catch my interest, it’s easier than ever to flip to another device or platform where I can find something that will entertain me. The entertainment factor is extremely important for what I engage with personally, and I’ve found that creative that is fitting to what’s popular on a specific platform generally grabs my attention the most. I also agree that, so long as I know why I’m sharing and what the benefit will be, I’m generally okay to share my personal data for customized products and experiences online.

One finding that I see less in my own life was that Gen Z’s tend to do all online activities on mobile. While I do spend my share of time on mobile, I tend to separate certain activities based on which device I’ll use (for example, I will always online shop on a laptop, never mobile). Of course, this is just a personal preference, but I found this insight surprising nonetheless.

Overall, Gen Z consumers have many demands but are willing to actively engage with brands to achieve balance and customer value. While we think of Gen Z as being glued to their mobile phones or otherwise internet-connected devices (and this certainly holds to an extent), they still see value in consuming traditional media such as TV and magazines or books, and they often do multiple of these activities at once. A brand’s behavior is important to Gen Zers, as they highly value not only a product’s price, quality, and familiarity, but also intangible attributes such as social responsibility and authenticity. One of the larger challenges in reaching Gen Z is their fleeting attention span and a plethora of media options, making advertisers’ content and its entertainment value that much more essential.

I hope this look into Gen Z’s habits has been insightful! If you need assistance with reaching your target demographic, be sure to reach out to us at