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The evolving media habits of Gen Z and Millennials

December 16, 2021

2021 has been a significant year for the development of in-game advertising, with record numbers of people turning to gaming for entertainment as pandemic restrictions came into force around the globe. This trend was seen across all age demographics but was most notable amongst Gen Z and Millennials.

Although many consumers still enjoy watching linear television and movies at home, gaming has become the entertainment medium of choice for Gen Z. Similarly, Millennials have a passion for online videos and video games but have shown a growing appreciation for the world of podcasts and audio too in 2021.

It’s clear that gaming and social media are now the most popular types of entertainment for these younger generations and in this article, we take a closer look at how their media consumption habits are evolving.

Gen Z would much rather spend time gaming

The growth of gaming was already at play, well before COVID-19 hit, but the amount of time spent on gaming increased significantly during the pandemic.

The change of routine brought about by restrictions meant that younger consumers turned to gaming to escape, connect, and socialise with their friends, generating a boom in the digital landscape and for the industry. According to YPulse, 46% of 13-39 year-olds began playing a new mobile or video game  during restrictions.  

Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends Survey found that 87% of Generation Z and 83% of Millennials play video games on devices such as smartphones, consoles and PCs at least weekly and that 26% of Generation Z shared a lack of interest in any other media format, stating that they would rather invest their time into gaming.

77% of Millennials play video games, with mobile games being the most played platform. According to Newzoo’s report on Millennial Gamers, 73% of Millennial gamers said they had played on a mobile device in the last 6 months. While, 70% of Millennials shared that they had spent money on the pastime in the last 6 months.

Social media savvy

There’s no doubt that media consumption habits have changed, and with a generation of people brought up on social media platforms it’s no shock that Gen Z are so media savvy – the two are practically inseparable.

Around 96% of Gen Z own a smartphone and spend an average of 3 hours and 38 minutes online on these devices each day- 50 minutes longer than the average internet user. Interestingly though, in the last year, 87% of this generation said they had spent more time on social media channels than ever before.

Music for the soul

While video content from gamers and influencers plays a big role in the lives of Gen Z and Millennials, listening to and watching music content is also a strong passion for both groups, with 71% of Gen Z and 62% of Millennials listening to music as one of their top lockdown internet activities.

Live streams, in particular, took off during lockdown. Twitch, the live streaming service primarily used for gaming, grew by over 50% in that time, and 27,000 hours of live music streaming were accounted for in that time.

It seems that this trend was picked up on by the media teams at record labels and gaming studios too as we saw live gigs happening in games such as Fortnite for the first time during the pandemic. 

Millennials love podcasts

Millennials are driving the era of podcasts, with 41% of this generation saying that they listen to at least one podcast a week, and almost one-third saying they listen to at least five podcasts a week.

Podcasts have proven to be a favourable media category for Millennials and podcasts saw the highest increase in usage, compared to other categories such as music streaming and broadcast tv, rising by almost 15%

A decline in traditional media

Whilst engagement with digital formats such as video games and podcasts rose during the pandemic, traditional formats such as broadcast TV continued to decline for Gen Z and Millennial audiences.

Millennials do still watch television at home but Gen Z are far less set on the idea, with only 10% of this group ranking this media format as their most popular entertainment activity. In fact across the 18-34 bracket, live TV viewership dropped by 23% year on year according to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report.

Even when Gen Z are sitting in front of their televisions, their full attention is rarely fully focused on it. Research by Decision Lab revealed that 70% of Gen Z say that they are ‘frequently’ or ‘always’ multitasking whilst watching the television. This is where media channels such as gaming reign supreme. The nature of a video game means that a player has to focus on the task at hand to succeed which demands their full attention. 

The way younger audiences interact with media is clearly evolving and with gaming becoming an increasingly central part of that, the future looks bright for in-game advertising.