As we saw in our first Millennial and Gen Z installment – Gen Z is Already Changing the Landscape for Retailers – Gen Z is making a splash in the news. Businesses and companies are hoping to learn what they can about this younger generation. At nearly 70 million people, Gen Z’s size and influence are quickly approaching that of Millennials.

Gen Z is the first generation born in the 21st century. They are growing up with technology at their fingertips. So how, if at all, is this changing their media consumption habits? We compared Millennial (18-34 year olds) and Generation Z (13-18 years old) consumers on a number of different media habits. Here are a few of the top discoveries we uncovered:

Over half of Gen Z stream TV or movies each day.

We know that close to half of Millennials stream TV shows or movies every day, but Gen Zers stream their TV and videos just as much as they watch TV live (or DVR) each day. 51% spend more than 1 hour per day streaming TV/videos while 52% spend more than 1 hour per day watching TV. Compare this to the 60% of Millennials who spend more than 1 hour per day watching TV. Then there’s YouTube, which attracts a huge number of Gen Z viewers each day. 72% of the younger generation visits the site DAILY to watch videos.


Millennials vs. Gen Z - TV and streaming


Not only do streaming services have a huge opportunity between both groups, but streaming devices such as Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, etc. also have a large opportunity among these younger consumers. Due to this shifting preference of having everything “on demand” and choosing exactly when and what they want to watch, I would imagine more cable companies will consider “unbundling” their cable packages in order to better compete with streaming services.

Millennials are more distracted when watching TV.

Although Gen Z doesn’t spend as much time as Millennials watching TV each day, they are surprisingly more engaged with what they are watching. Nearly 40% of Millennials are distracted by a second screen and are looking at content that isn’t related to what they are watching (as if it wasn’t hard enough to reach this group). That’s compared to 31% of Gen Z viewers who are distracted while watching TV. Either way, 31% is still a large number! That’s at least 31% of this prime audience who may not be paying attention to TV advertising.

And the streaming goes beyond just TV and movies….

Overall, Gen Z spends more time streaming music.

Pandora and Spotify are top players when it comes to listening to music.  Gen Zers are 33% more likely than Millennials to listen to Spotify more than 5 hours a week. However, when it comes to streaming music on Pandora, both groups behave similarly: 12% of Gen Zers listen to Pandora more than 5 hours a week compared to 13% of Millennials. About 21% of Gen Z consumers pay for their music streaming, but roughly 56% listen to free services, which is in line with Millennials’ behaviors. Since the majority of Gen Zers and Millennials are listening to the free versions, they are hearing numerous advertisements throughout the week. This may be a good advertising avenue to reach these younger consumers.

Millennials vs. Gen Z - music streaming


Gen Z goes to the movies more often.

Slightly more than a quarter of Gen Z consumers go to the movies at least once a month, which is 53% more likely than Millennials. What do they enjoy watching? Comedies rate high with 39% of Gen Z responding this is their favorite genre and action movies also rank high at 23% favorability.

Social media is becoming the first stop for breaking news among younger generations.

Where do people go most for breaking news: local news sources (local TV stations or websites), national news sources, or social media? In the case of Millennials, national news sources rank number one with 39% who rely on this method for their breaking news, next comes local news with 26%, and 23% go to social media sites for their breaking news (12% say breaking news isn’t important). On the other hand, 28% of Gen Z rely on local news sources, 27% rely on social media, and only 28% rely on national news sources (21% say breaking news isn’t important).


Millennials vs. Gen Z - breaking news


It will be interesting to see what happens as more Gen Zers become interested in current events and news. But for now, it looks like social media is a major news source for these individuals. If they aren’t already doing so, local and national sources may need to provide short news videos and stories on social media sites, such as Twitter’s Moments feature or Snapchat’s Stories feature, in order to better engage with this younger audience.

Gen Z is more active on visual social media sites.

As we saw in our first installment, overall Gen Z is more active on popular social networking sites, except for Facebook.  Facebook seems to be losing traction with younger generations – 55% of Millennials use Facebook daily, compared to 31% of Gen Zers. Facebook is tied with Instagram as the top social network Gen Z uses daily. After Facebook and Instagram come Snapchat and Twitter. Given the top sites among this generation, it’s evident they are attracted to and fans of more visual social media sites. Also worth noting (although it isn’t surprising), social media seems to be a big part of this younger generation’s life and every day routine. Gen Zers are more likely than Millennials to spend at least 2 hours a day on social media.


Millennials vs. Gen Z - social media usage


What does this all mean?

In terms of media consumption, this younger generation is used to having media “on demand” and at their fingertips with a click of a button. From what we saw, streaming media is huge for this generation. They stream their TV shows, movies, video clips, and music. Social media is also part of their daily routine. By keeping a pulse on this growing generation, websites and brands can better target this younger consumer group. It will be interesting to see if any of these habits change as Gen Z gets older, or if these trends will continue as they age.


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