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How Gen Z’s Media Usage Is Paving The Road To The Metaverse

  • By Alex Frankel Schorr
  • September 1, 2022
  • 5 min
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With social media and gaming the most popular forms of entertainment, according to Getwizer research, brands are increasingly looking to develop virtual identities to communicate their values and beliefs to connect with Gen Z consumers. 

Gen Z’s purchasing power is on the rise, and brands are looking to develop deeper connections with these young students and professionals who wield $360 billion in disposable income. However, connecting with Gen Z is not as straightforward as with previous generations. Their media usage, while predominantly digital, also touches more traditional platforms. So, while brands can focus on new media to drive engagement, not all traditional forms should be instantly ignored when looking to connect with Gen Z. 

Television, for example, still ranked third among Gen Z, behind social media and playing video games, when it came to their favorite form of entertainment, according to research conducted by Getwizer in association with Variety VIP+. This strong performance, and its popularity across all age categories, is expected to see television ad spend grow almost 40% this year, to hit $21.2 billion, more than double than in 2020. Indeed, we are, apparently, on the cusp of a new golden age for television advertising

Gen Z, social media, playing video games, tv, television
Gen Z’s love of social media and gaming outshines all other age categories, but television still important.

The Rise and Rise of Streaming 

While Gen Z’s love of television was the lowest among all age categories, only 22.5% agreed with the statement that “Traditional TV isn’t for me.” So, television is still important to Gen Z, it is just its delivery (via streaming) that is evolving. 

Netflix, Prime Video and other streaming services are gaining greater traction with younger audiences, with nearly 35% of Gen Z believing that they “make better content than traditional TV networks.” 

Gen Z, streaming services, netflix, hulu, disney+

Gen Z’s Love of Cinema

Another win for traditional media is that over 60% of Gen Z prefers to watch movies in theaters rather than at home. In fact, of all the age categories surveyed, Gen Z was the least interested in watching movies at home. No surprise then that Hollywood is currently looking to develop the perfect formula to keep Gen Z hooked on the silver screen. The bottom line is that the pending death of the cinema may well be overrated. 

Gen Z, movies, cinema, theatre, theater
Gen Z would rather watch movies in a theater than at home compared to other age categories.

Generation TikTok

When it comes to entertainment sources, TikTok gained the most number one rankings from Gen Z, with 26.5% first preference votes. YouTube was in second place, ranked first by 19.4% of respondents. However, overall YouTube ranked higher racking up 83.3% of all votes, with TikTok in second place scoring 79.1%. 

But research has shown that thinking of TikTok as purely a social media entertainment platform could be a mistake. Nearly 40% of Gen Z members prefer TikTok to Google for online searches, according to Google’s internal data. Their short attention span and determination to get the information quickly, rather than having to sort through various search returns on Google, appears to be driving this growth. Google is therefore looking to counteract TikTok’s growing prevalence as a search tool by making searching more natural, whether you are humming a tune to find music or using Google Lens to search visually

Gaming Culture Will Drive Brands To Embrace the Metaverse

While social media rules, playing video games was the second most popular form of entertainment for Gen Z. 

When it came to the top performing platforms, Playstation 4 was the first-ranked game console and came second overall with a score of just over 28%. However, it was the “iPhone or tablet” that was the most popular (over 41%) when Gen Z was asked “which platform have you played for at least 30 minutes in the last week?”. 

The popularity of gaming can be gauged by the fact that only just under 13% of Gen Z respondents said they did not play any video games in the past week. This should be a key indicator for brands in terms of their future development. With the gaming market set to surpass $200 billion next year, an increasing number of brands are looking to the metaverse to create their own virtual identities to personify their values and beliefs to connect with a generation that grew up playing video and mobile games. Already, one-third of Gen Zers would like to see brands develop virtual stores, and 30% were receptive to brands selling skins and apparel to outfit digital avatars.

virtual stores, Gen Z, brands

How the Media Mix is Evolving

While cable television, radio and print have been in decline for many years now, and surpassed by streaming services, podcasts and social media, brands are placing digital at the core of their media planning. This is key if they are to connect with Gen Z and Gen Alpha, which will soon become consumers in their own right. 

But this is more than having a website and social media presence. Leading brands are already embracing the Metaverse, which will be the digital battleground in which they will fight to gain a share of the Gen Z and Gen Alpha market.

The popularity of social media and gaming, and rise of the metaverse, will see new ways of engaging with consumers, driving innovation and deeper consumer engagement. This will see the media mix used by companies to attract Gen Z continually evolve. For those brands lagging behind in the digital space and still unsure of the metaverse, they need to realize the future is happening now and they need to embrace it. 

Read more about Gen Z and Gen Alpha and the brands they love to love here.  

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