Understanding the way people consume media is key to creating and serving the content they are most likely to enjoy and digest. To some degree, technology is also responsible for shaping these habits – the availability of broadband internet and smartphones has impacted how we choose to watch films, listen to music, or read online.

But even with the same technology at hand, representatives of various age groups are not likely to demonstrate the same behaviour.

In this article, we will track the consumption habits of Generation Z, trying to find the key to successfully connecting them with video content.

Wait, Gen Who?

Alright, first things first. All the fancy nomenclature is very likely to give you head spin, not to mention you may have probably heard the terms “Gen Y” and “Gen X” once in a while – but still vaguely remember the definitions. So let’s get it out of the way first:

  • Generation Z: is the youngest named generation – people born between 1995 and 2015, meaning they are currently between 4-24 years old.
  • Generation Y: (aka Millennials) people born between 1980 and 1994, meaning they are currently 25-39 years old.
  • Generation X: people born between 1965 – 1979, currently between 40-54 years old.
  • Baby Boomers: born between 1944 and 1964, currently between 55-75 years old.

The generations Z and Y seem to share an affinity, but they are actually very different in terms of consumption habits: what, how and when they watch, and how they communicate with each other.

Of course, some members of Generation Z are too young to be economically significant for now, but they will grow up one day, becoming a force to be reckoned with. They will become conscious consumers and possibly become a real purchasing force with (quite possibly) deep pockets.

Young generations as early adopters

What’s vital in terms of hardware is that Gen Z are the connected generation of people who fluidly switch from one screen to another – laptop, tablet, smartphone, and TV. This makes them a little more challenging to target across the various devices.

  • For Gen Z, a smartphone is the central interface tool for interacting with reality. An average Gen Z person uses their smartphone 15.4 hours per week — more than any other type of device.

Gen Z don’t care so much about television. 13.2 hours of TV content per week may seem like a lot, but it’s significantly less than boomers and Gen X before them.

Social media

Facebook is the most-visited website for generations like millennials and Gen X’ers. However, Generation Z is the only generation that prefers YouTube over any other social media. And although YouTube is not a bona fide social media platform, it perfectly caters to the needs of Gen Y’ers.

Video – a tricky case

Gen Z certainly love online video (with YouTube at the forefront as the most visited website). But Gen Z do not use YouTube in the same way as their older peers. They use YouTube for almost everything they need, including education and music consumption. They are more likely to watch a recipe than to read it. Understanding these unique demands is key to connect with them successfully.

Gen Z generally have a positive relationship with YouTube – they use it as an antidote for the depressing, phony world of modern social media. It makes sense – the unreal, filtered world of Instagram does not scale appropriately to formats like live video. This shortcoming offers solace for Gen Z souls.

YouTube for education

Nearly 60% of Gen Z’ers prefer learning on YouTube to learning through apps, textbooks, or group activities, according to a study by Pearson.

However, it’s not just school subjects they’re studying on YouTube.

According to a study by Ipsos, 80% of teens say YouTube has helped them become more knowledgeable, and almost 70% say it has helped them gain skills that will be an asset to their future.

Not all learning-based videos are tutorials or training. For example, one popular video, called “Study with Me” shows a young teen studying for 2,5 hours.

Gen Z-ers are creative

In 2015, the market research firm, Wildness, conducted a study on 12 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. The company’s top conclusion? This “post-internet generation” doesn’t simply consume entertainment—they help create and shape it.

Gen Z are a creative force about to redefine entertainment, consumption, the workplace and marketing. They are empowered, connected, empathetic self-starters that want to stand out and make a difference in the world. They have created a new Cultural Currency that values uniqueness, authenticity, creativity, shareability and recognition. What’s different for this generation is not as simple as the internet or technology. Technology is an essential component, but what’s changed is this generation’s relationship with culture.

The study revealed that 80 percent of Gen Z say finding themselves creatively is important. Over 25 percent post an original video weekly, while 65 percent enjoy creating and sharing content on social media.

How to successfully connect with Gen Z?

Successfully catering to their needs requires careful consideration of a few things:

Branded content is ok as long as it’s valuable

Gen Z are not bothered when they watch content, which is produced as advertising – as long as it’s still useful to them and makes them feel good.

Avoid content that makes Gen Z upset

Gen Z use video content (i.e. YouTube) as a way to vent their bad emotions. This means you should shy away from angry and negative content. Instead, focus on information, entertainment, or the opportunity to make a difference through social causes.

Gen Z love authentic, trustworthy content

Gen Z They value honesty. They will find a homegrown car reviewer more reliable than a high-budget automotive show.

They appreciate all kinds of unboxing videos (phones, video game consoles, gadgets) as the preferred way of discovering new products. They also like DIY videos.

The professional presentation does not matter as much as video quality

Gen Z don’t care much about the quality of the video, as it’s justified. But don’t confuse quality with professionalism. Videos have to be HD or higher. We UHD will soon become the norm, as technology starts to more widely support mobile and laptop UHD usage through faster bandwidth and technological advancement.

Gen Z love personal branding and storytelling

Gen Z rely on influencer and peer-to-peer recommendations. They love influencers, personal brands, and storytelling and use them to make their purchase decisions.


Generation Z-ers tend to interact more extensively with short video content, and 81 percent of them watch at least one hour of online video per day. Gen Z spend more time than the older generations on Instagram or Snapchat.

Even though adjacent generations share some channel preferences, they don’t necessarily use them in the same way. Millennials and Gen Z equally love YouTube, but because Gen Z better than their older peers understand the appeal of Snapchat and Instagram, they apply similar taste to YouTube content – they prefer short, fast, bite-sized pieces.

What’s important is that Gen Z don’t spend much time on any single video. It is estimated that, with a shortened attention span, they can fully focus for a mere eight-seconds. This makes millennials’ 12-second span seem lengthy in comparison. Although ad lengths have been shrinking for years, it’s advertising to Gen Z with six-second pre-roll ads is considered the new industry standard.