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Data Dive

Data Dive: GWI’s Generation Z report

What’s the news?

The online scrutiny surrounding Gen Z has been impossible to avoid over the last few years.

Why aren’t they buying enough properties? How dare they insist on flexible working? Why won’t they eat jellied eels?

These types of ridiculous questions crop up every few weeks in one headline or another, circulating social media and sparking outrage, before sinking back into obscurity.

Gen Z is a vitally important demographic whose take on social media, entertainment and general lifestyles are all hot topics for the marketers and PR professionals looking to target them. While they may not be as alien as the media makes out, according to GWI’s recent report, they have some very different opinions from their predecessors.

Who’s behind it?

GlobalWebIndex is an audience-targeting company dedicated to providing media and marketing agencies insight into key trends and demographics.  Each year, GWI interview over 700,000 internet users aged 16-64, allowing them to regularly provide detailed, actionable insights to communication professionals worldwide. This report focused solely on the latest trends among Gen Z.

Give me figures…

1. What does the future hold?

Climate change and environmental issues are generally seen as the greatest challenges for many around the world, but they are even more important to Gen Z. The younger generation is growing increasingly concerned about pollution – with 44% naming it their chief worry.

Furthermore, the typical US concerns around gun violence, disease and healthcare all take a back seat in the minds of Gen Z, as they choose to focus more on the planet as a whole, rather than themselves.

2. Taking TV online

Online is now Gen Z’s preferred way to watch television, with 2021 marking the first time they watched more online shows than traditional television (broadcast TV was watched for an average of 1hr 28min a day compared to online’s 1hr 30min). A staggering 97% of the younger generation watched on-demand TV in the last month, with traditional TV and YouTube being viewed by 91% and 83% respectively.

3. A generation of gamers

It appears some stereotypes do hold true, with a staggering 90% of Gen Z playing video games on a regular basis. A massive 40% admitted to downloading a free-to-play game in the last month and over a third (37%) have played online with real-life friends. Gen Z doesn’t just enjoy playing games, but also love to sit down and watch their favourite influencers. Almost a quarter (22%) have watched a live stream, 16% have watched an esports tournament, and 7% have streamed their own gameplay.

4. Platform’s purpose

TikTok’s extraordinary explosion of popularity over the last few years has been widely documented, with Gen Z having taken the platform to heart. A third (34%) of the younger generation use the video app daily, up from 20% at the beginning of 2021. However, it isn’t all sunshine and roses for TikTok – with Instagram still having the stranglehold on the Gen Z demographic with a huge 64% of youth using it daily.

Despite this, TikTok’s dominance has not gone unnoticed, with rivals adopting the short form video format in an effort to stop its extraordinary growth. However, these efforts have, so far, been in vain, with TikTok now being the go-to way for young adults to find entertaining content – with 81% of both Instagram and TikTok users picking the video platform for that sole purpose. Yet, Instagram still holds the crown for the percentage of Gen Z users posting content (76%), researching brands (69%), messaging (56%), and keeping up to date with news (58%).

What should I take away from this?

For years, marketers have thought of Gen Z as the future generation – but their time is now. They are the audience pioneering new media platforms, raising awareness to global challenges, and controlling trends.

This younger generation is a key market for marketers across industry, and their habits should be of particular interest. With trends often changing and social media apps constantly fighting it out for supremacy, it’s vital for marketers to keep a finger on the pulse and stay informed about where their audience is consuming content.

Where do I go next?

Looking for more information about how you keep an eye on Gen Z? Check out this blog post by Wildfire’s Jay Cox on how to engage the younger generation.

Or, if you are looking for more ideas on some interesting ways to engage people with your next social media campaign, check out this blog from Megan Hill on why your next social campaign should send people to sleep.

To download the full GWI report visit The latest trends for Gen Z

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Wildfire Labs explores intelligence, insights and trends from the world of tech marketing and PR. Articles and content by Alex Warren, Tim Richardson and Paula Fifield. If you'd like to learn more about any of our trends or our team, contact labs@wildfirepr.com.