Media head­lines and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns have giv­en the Mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion (born between 1981 and 1996) atten­tion for years, but more recent­ly, there’s also been increased focus on the next youngest gen­er­a­tion, Gen­er­a­tion Z, which is made up of any­one born in 1997 and onwards.

And while both of these demo­graph­ic sub­sets are con­sid­ered the “younger gen­er­a­tions”, there are many key dif­fer­ences between Gen Z and Mil­len­ni­als, which is par­tic­u­lar­ly evi­dent in the con­tent that they con­sume. For exam­ple, Mil­len­ni­als are known for cut­ting the cord — in oth­er words, ditch­ing cable for online stream­ing ser­vices — but Gen Z was nev­er con­nect­ed to the cord to begin with. Instead, Gen Z users are attract­ed to social plat­forms, includ­ing YouTube, and new­com­er Tik­Tok, which has lead to com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent view­ing behav­iors and con­tent inter­ests, evolv­ing media con­sump­tion trends which are impor­tant to note.

So what is Gen Z watch­ing — and what does that mean for your mar­ket­ing efforts?

Here’s a look at some of the big video con­tent trends tak­ing hold among younger audi­ences.


Since YouTube has been a thing for basi­cal­ly all of their life (YouTube was found­ed in 2005), Gen Z has wide­ly adopt­ed the plat­form into their media con­sump­tion process, and it’s their top pre­ferred plat­form for con­sum­ing video con­tent.

In fact, 85% of teens now con­sume con­tent on YouTube, while the aver­age time kids spend watch­ing online videos has dou­bled in the last four years.

That shift away from tra­di­tion­al TV — and towards the short­er clip-style pre­sen­ta­tion of YouTube — has lead to a whole new approach to video con­tent, while it’s also seen the rise of ‘vlog­gers’, an entire­ly new cat­e­go­ry of celebri­ty.

Indeed, accord­ing to a study pub­lished last year, chil­dren are now 3x as like­ly to want to be a YouTube star, as opposed to an astro­naut, the past stan­dard for aspi­ra­tion. Here’s a basic overview of what Gen Z is watch­ing on the video plat­form.


Video blog­ging — or ‘vlog­ging’ — has risen to promi­nence on YouTube, and con­tin­ues to show signs of growth and pop­u­lar­i­ty. Online per­son­al­i­ties typ­i­cal­ly upload low-bud­get and high­ly per­son­al videos of them­selves, through which they con­nect with their audi­ence. Many vlog­gers have now built mas­sive careers out of their vlog­ging hob­by — the high­est-paid vlog­ger in 2019, Ryan Kaji, earned a whop­ping $26 mil­lion.

From a brand per­spec­tive, it’s impor­tant to note the role that vlog­gers are increas­ing­ly play­ing. Giv­en their pop­u­lar­i­ty, in the future, tra­di­tion­al TV adver­tis­ing may not be your best bet for out­reach and brand aware­ness, while endorse­ments by influ­encers are now also con­sid­ered to be more trust­wor­thy and authen­tic than those from celebri­ties and sports stars. This is a key trend to note.

Informative videos

But it’s not just enter­tain­ment that makes YouTube a hit with younger users — accord­ing to research, 80% of Gen Z teens say that the plat­form has helped them become more knowl­edge­able about some­thing, while 68% say that YouTube has helped them improve or gain skills that will bet­ter pre­pare them for the future.

YouTube has become a valu­able, and trust­ed, learn­ing resource. In fact, most stu­dents now pre­fer YouTube videos over text­books and many search­es for videos for DIY projects and how-tos.

The trend under­lines the expand­ing use of the plat­form, which has var­i­ous impli­ca­tions for how you can uti­lize videos to bet­ter con­nect with younger audi­ences.

Informative videos


Anoth­er key video trend of note among younger audi­ences is Snapchat, and par­tic­u­lar­ly, the rise of its ‘Snap Orig­i­nals’ pro­gram­ming.

Late last year, Snap report­ed that total dai­ly time spent watch­ing its Dis­cov­er con­tent had increased by 40% year-over-year, while more than 100 of its Dis­cov­er chan­nels now reach, on aver­age, audi­ences “in the dou­ble-dig­it mil­lions per month”.

Snap’s Dis­cov­er shows under­line a sig­nif­i­cant shift in video con­sump­tion habits. Snap Orig­i­nal shows are shot ver­ti­cal­ly, and episodes aver­age only five min­utes in length. The rise of this con­tent for­mat sig­nals a major shift in video expec­ta­tions among younger audi­ences, with con­tent that’s aligned to how they watch, as opposed to re-pur­pos­ing tra­di­tion­al video for­mats.

That’s a key trend of note — if you’re look­ing to con­nect with younger audi­ences, short­er, pur­pose-cre­at­ed con­tent may per­form bet­ter.

Which leads to the next plat­form of note:


Tik­Tok saw a sig­nif­i­cant rise in 2019, and the major­i­ty of its grow­ing audi­ence is with­in the Gen Z age range. The pop­u­lar­i­ty of its short-form video for­mat has brands tak­ing notice, which is now lead­ing to new approach­es designed to cater to this mar­ket — but what works on Tik­Tok is large­ly the same as sim­i­lar short-form pre­de­ces­sor Vine: quick, fun, DIY-style con­tent that aligns with trends and memes.

TikTok’s con­tent is much short­er than con­tent on YouTube, with a lim­it of 15-sec­ond per clip. The most pop­u­lar con­tent on Tik­Tok right now is lip syncs, viral dance crazes, and humor­ous skits.

Cre­ativ­i­ty with­in the medi­um is high­ly encour­aged by the Tik­Tok com­mu­ni­ty, who engage and fol­low lit­tle-known video cre­ators and turn them into Tik­Tok stars. As the plat­form evolves, we’re see­ing the rise of these Tik­Tok influ­encers who post orig­i­nal con­tent. The com­pa­ny now also has a cat­a­log of its own vet­ted influ­encers that brands can part­ner with.

Real­ly, there are two types of cre­ators on Tik­Tok at present — those with large fol­low­ings on oth­er plat­forms who are try­ing out the lat­est new thing, and unknown, new cre­ators who are find­ing an audi­ence with­in Tik­Tok first. Over time, these approach­es are lead­ing to a new, ded­i­cat­ed style that’s unique to the plat­form, which, giv­en its cur­rent pop­u­lar­i­ty, could lead to anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant shift in Gen Z video con­tent con­sump­tion, again aligned around short­er, ver­ti­cal­ly shot and pre­sent­ed clips.


The Changing Face of Video

No mat­ter how you look at it, video con­tent is chang­ing, and brands need to keep up with these rel­e­vant shifts in order to main­tain a con­nec­tion with younger audi­ences.

As Forbes puts it, the key to Gen Z is video con­tent which is “rel­e­vant, mean­ing­ful, and authen­tic”. Gen Zers are keen­ly aware when they are being sold to, so con­tent bom­bard­ed with cold mar­ket­ing and logos is going to fail with this gen­er­a­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, Gen Z is turn­ing to video con­tent to decom­press and to find a release from the increased social pres­sures and com­pe­ti­tion they’re fac­ing.

So long as you rec­og­nize such trends, and take the time to con­sid­er what Gen Z view­ers are grow­ing to expect in such, you’ll be able to see suc­cess with these dig­i­tal natives.

SOURCE: Social­Me­di­a­To­day