Gen Z will pay for content, but dismayed by creative diversity gap

by | Jan 16, 2020 | Public Relations

Gen Z is redefining how cultural content—i.e., music, film, television, art, lifestyle, gaming and literature—is being discovered, consumed and shared, and they’re willing to pay for it, according to new research from creative industries development firm Ontario Creates. The research was conducted by VICE, the world’s largest independent youth media company.

The study, Gen Z: The Culture of Content Consumption, conducted by youth media company VICE, surveyed those between 14 and 22 years old and found that they are willing to pay for the content they desire, with 90 percent reporting they pay for cultural content regularly. The survey also finds that Gen Z wants to see much more diversity in the stories and people they see, with one in two saying there is a gap in diversity of gender, sexual identity and ethnic representation in today’s cultural content.

“VICE’s dedicated Insights team is able to offer partners unparalleled access to and expertise on youth and culture globally,” said Amy Davies, VP of strategy & creative in Canada for VICE, in a news release. “We leveraged a number of methodologies for this report to surface insights to help guide and inform the Canadian culture sector in their quest to capture Gen Z audiences. It has been a delight to partner with the Ontario Creates team.”

Key findings in the survey include:

  • Music is by far the #1 form of cultural content consumed by Gen Z, with online videos, TV and video games rounding out their most frequent activities
  • Seven out of ten respondents said they prefer physical books to e-books
  • One in two favor printed magazines over digital ones
  • 75 percent of respondents say original content is important to them
  • Music, video streaming and video games (in all forms: console, PC and mobile) are the top paid services for Gen Z, with respondents paying for an average of four cultural content services
  • The younger demographic are huge cord cutters: for Millennials, cable or satellite TV subscriptions are their #2 most popular paid services, while those didn’t even make the top 5 for Gen Z
  • Gen Z is motivated by better quality (61 percent said so), better experience (56 percent), and convenience (50 percent) to pay for content, versus avoiding ads on free services (41 percent)
  • Gen Z is especially interested in internet culture/memes, humor and gaming.

“This Gen Z consumer research will be extremely valuable to Ontario’s content creators,” said Karen Thorne-Stone, president & CEO of Ontario Creates, in the release. “Gen Z is the most diverse generation in Canadian history and they are changing the rules of engagement with creators. This research will help Ontario companies adapt their business models to connect more effectively with this big new market.”

The survey also finds Gen Z:

  • Is more interested in being “entertained” by content than “being informed”
  • Want ease of discovery, looking to social media channels like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok to find new content and to form relationships with the creators themselves

“With new voices and new platforms entering the media landscape by the minute, the competition for young people’s attention has never been greater,” said Julie Arbit, global SVP of insights at VICE, in the release. “Combine that with a young generation that has never been hungrier for content or more savvy about how to access it, and you have a whole new approach to content consumption. Understanding this new mindset is essential for anyone who is trying to reach this young audience.”

This project began by speaking with content creators across industries who identified the complex challenges and strategies for capturing Gen Z’s attention. Using these learnings, VICE Insights conducted an online survey among 650 VICE audience members in Ontario, Canada-500 people ages 14-22 (Gen Z) with an additional 150 people ages 23-39 (Millennials) for comparison. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.8%.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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