Gen Z and video platforms: what is missing to make a perfect match?
What do Gen Zers want from video content consumption, what do they lack on video platforms and TV? How can we meet these needs with socialization tools?
In general: Gen Zers are full of socially conscious and very gregarious
In 2020, almost every specialized media reported that Gen Zers are becoming the most influential consumers. At this point, they have entered an active consumption phase, and are beginning to seriously influence world of products and services. This phase stands to continue long into the future.
Around the same time, a large number of surveys were conducted. They researched what is important to Gen Zers when choosing a brand. The results weren’t very surprising. Gen Zers confirmed that they stick to brands which represent their values, demonstrating inclusion and diversity in all directions. They want to recognise themselves in ads and products, but simultaneously the products and ads must convey sincerity and authenticity.
Sincerity, open mindedness, and uniqueness of personality are not only important to Gen Zers — they also become part of their consumption habits. Where do we see their drive for personality uniqueness? They like, for example, luxury brands and thrift stores. Swap markets and thrift shops also reflect their commitment to conscious consumption. Social responsibility moves them to be charitable. 40 % are volunteer workers and 51 % donate money or items regularly (according to the report of Changing Our World, Inc.)
What does this tell us? Again, this is about conscious decision making. They choose brands, labels, and apps, as wisely as possible. It’s not that their chosen company has necessarily to battle for ecology, but it must, at least, provide a strong benefit to the specific Gen Z user.
They don’t want to consume products and services passively, they seek to do so actively and they want to be engaged. This realization has to stay central when we speak of the relationship between Gen Z, social media and video platforms.
What about social connections?
According to the Harvard Business Review, even before Covid-19, Gen Z was eschewing traditional social media for “digital campfires” — more intimate online destinations where they texted privately or connected either in micro-communities or larger shared experiences. In 2020, activity on these platforms exploded.
This is all obviously connected (as a desire to be active and involved) with increased use of Reddit and YouTube, which according to polls among all social media, showed the greatest growth between 2019 and 2021. Gen Zers don’t want to just post and wait for someone’s answer, they want to share their opinions on any topic and get feedback right away.
There is another platform that’s in the top-10 and which marketologists can no longer ignore: Twitch. Twitch turns out to be the perfect platform for Gen Z, bringing together different types of experience. The primary focus of time spent (gaming) is linked with continuous communication, and with the sharing of emotions and reactions.
It is better to watch inferior quality video while discussing it than to watch high-quality video in “radio silence”.
Gen Zers want to stay in touch with brands, influential personalities and each other; they want to speak and be heard. Yet, researchers notice one looming problem: they’re not just seeking connections or battling smartphone addiction, they feel pressure to build personal brands. This pressure comes from friends and peers; moreover, at schools or colleges popular personal accounts or blogs can often become a bonus in terms of study or getting a place at a desired educational institution. Lack of presence on social media is a nonconformist’s choice. This dilemma has to be solved, and again the above mentioned conscious approach. Often Gen Zers have three accounts: a public or work Instagram, a regular one, and a fake account (for Instagram it is called a finsta). Keep this fact in mind — we’ll return to that in a bit.
The way Gen Zers watch movies
According to recent polls, Gen Zers named YouTube and Netflix their favorite VoD platforms. In fact, 71% of Gen Z consumers have a Netflix subscription. Other platforms they like are TikTok and Twitch. What does this all mean? Communication and the opportunity to react to what you watch is just as important as the content itself. It is better to watch inferior quality video while discussing it than to watch high-quality video in “radio silence”.
Even when Gen Z watches Netflix, they are on their phones, constantly bouncing between different screens. They want conversation and engagement with others who share similar interests. Because of this phenomenon, linear TV is losing them — not because of content quality but because of its linear base. Watching directly without real conversation and engagement is simply too passive a pastime, and they just don’t agree to waste time in such a useless way. Because of this, Twitch is changing and getting more popular from year to year; it’s no longer only for gamers.
The popular “Gen Z Expert” Mark Beal (yes, he calls himself this) has said that “Gen Z is turning to Twitch for content ranging from esports and sports to music and entertainment. In my national survey of Gen Z, 20% of Gen Zers ranked Twitch ahead of cable television and network television for viewing video content and that percentage is increasing by each quarter.”
Twitch meets the essential need of Gen Zers for content consumption, i.e. the need to participate rather than just consume.
Atos reporters looked at the live content with the highest ratings on broadcast TV — sports, reality TV, song competitions, and dating shows — they relied on social media. Twitch is all about communities and replicates the social media experience but with social interaction integrated right into the video — no need to go outside looking for interesting feeds, because they are all provided! — with the added incentive that these communities might also have influential personalities or show stars as participants or moderators. And why isn’t Twitch in first place at the top of most popular platforms? Just because Twitch is not a video platform with its own catalog of films, it’s closer to social media by its functions.
As for Netflix. Why does it stand out, other than obviously for its original content? The answer can be found in the way Netflix releases TV shows. They give users all the episodes they want in one, immediate binge. It’s also a classical and exemplary streaming service which pulls Gen Zer’s strings because of its diversity-scented content production (just as Disney+ pulls millennials’ strings with nostalgia-based content).
YouTube turns out to be in the top 3 most popular platforms not only among zoomers, but for all the various generations out there. Several factors contribute to this: precise recommendations, supply for any demand — from movies to memes and communication within YouTube Live. Teenagers are ready to hang out there for hours. By the way, boomers are also prone to watch YouTube often (according to YPulse), but mostly they prefer educational videos, while Xers choose nostalgic ones.
The way they watch sports. Wait! Do they watch sports?
At the beginning of the pandemic, Washington Post journalist Rick Maese asked, “how do Gen Z viewers watch sports?”. The pandemic locked-down all existing generations together — inside a single house, making the question of how and what this group would watch together highly relevant — literally overnight. Maese came to the conclusion that it is impossible to sit Gen Z or teenagers down in front of a 3-hour TV broadcast and expect them to watch. Without question they will hop onto social media, either in order to communicate or in order to serf, independent of how they choose to spend their time, they are already quite used to discussing and taking the deep dive into whatever they do.
Research shows that Gen Zers value their time more than do other generations, and are therefore very thorough in choosing what their time will be spent on, so as not to waste it.
Quite a number of polls have shown that with the migration of young people (16–25) onto digital platforms there is a decrease in their interest in watching sporting events, although this decrease isn’t very significant. According to polls, centennials call themselves sports fans, though not as actively as millennials or baby boomers, but it’s hard for them to watch sports the same way as other generations do. The reason doesn’t have to do with their age, but with changes in mentality that have occurred between the generations.
“I’ve been screaming for 15 years now,” — Rich Luker, a social psychologist and founder of Luker on Trends, said. “I would get pushback. Owners, executives, senior-level people say, ‘They will come back at 35.’ Why would they come back at 35 when they were never there in the first place? That’s like saying all of a sudden they’ll all start knitting at 35 or watching cricket at 35. Why would they do that?”
Insider Intelligence agrees, reminding us that “Gen Z will soon become the largest cohort of consumers and brands who want a piece of this opportunity will need to understand their tendencies and digital expectations”.
Okay, the problem is clear, but is socialization actually a viable solution?
Meeting their needs
Interaction and engagement should be the primary strategy for reaching Gen Z — so claims Forbes, and we have no reasons to argue with them.
This desire to chat about experience in real time live led the NFL to partner with Clubhouse and offer a series of draft-themed rooms, while the NBA recently formed a partnership with Reddit. But there is another solution which connects the two sides of an engaging experience, and this is co-watching video content in online rooms. It’s just like Twitch, but on your video platform.
Let Gen Zers watch and chat at the same time. If what they want is to use two gadgets at once, allow them to do just that. When they watch TV, they can chat on an app which connects them with the broadcast. If they’re watching on desktop or smartphone, help them to communicate — but not via other platforms and social media accounts, but on your very own platform, right while they are viewing.
In addition to the advantage of keeping them on your platform while meeting their needs, this solution will also smooth their social media experience. If they stay on your platform without connecting with their classic social media accounts like Instagram or Facebook, they can just engage and communicate without worrying about how many followers they are drawing. And you aren’t stopping them from sharing links via social media if they want to do this, too.
So, co-watching of films or sports is, in fact, an excellent way to unite different types of experience, while making the overall result both complete and adaptable.
It’s time to look closely at Gen Zers and provide them with all the opportunities they need in order to become your users.
Watchers is a white label solution, which provides the ability to create online rooms on your video-platform. In these online rooms users will be able to watch content simultaneously while chatting by text or voice. At first, Watchers was created as a b2c app and now it is a SaaS being used by companies to show-case their content and to boost their business making use of social mechanisms.
If you want to learn more or to integrate our solution into your platform, сontact us: firstname.lastname@example.org (https://watchers.io/b2b)