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90% of Gen Z willing to pay for content, and other key insights from the VICE survey

90% of Gen Z are willing to pay for content they desire, according to a report by VICE Media and  Ontario Creates, a Canadian provincial agency. 

The report, Gen Z: The Culture of Content Consumption, is based on surveys of 14 to 22 year olds (Gen Z) from Ontario, conducted by VICE. Aside from this primary group of 500, an additional 150 individuals aged between 23-39 (Millennials) were also surveyed for comparison. 

When asked why they focused on Gen Z, Vice Canada’s VP of Strategy & Creative, Amy Davies told Billboard, the generation is “growing in significance in the market. They’re coming out of their educational years; they’re entering the workforce and they’ve also been proven to be making a lot of the purchasing decisions at home on behalf of the family. 

“So they are significant, and for anyone who wants to future-proof your business, you need to understand this demographic.”

The survey focused on how Gen Z discovers, consumes and shares cultural content, i.e., film and TV, art, lifestyle, gaming, music, and literature. 

With new voices and new platforms entering the media landscape by the minute, the competition for young people’s attention has never been greater. 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.

Julie Arbit, Global SVP of Insights, VICE

Here are key insights for publishers:

Gen Z prefers diverse, global content

Gen Z’s primary motivation for consuming content is entertainment. They prefer original cultural content including stories that have never been told, or a topic presented in a new way. They want to explore and engage with a wide variety of different voices and viewpoints, and desire much more diversity in the stories and people they see. 

Being digital natives, they are used to having prompt access to an extensive amount of information from around the world. This makes them open to, and expect their cultural content to come from anywhere and everywhere. They look for global content and stories. 

In comparison, Millennials are more likely to seek out local content. They also place knowledge above entertainment and are looking to be informed and inspired. The topics the Millennials are interested in tend to be more practical, like food, technology and health. 

78% of Gen Z use social media to discover cultural content

Personal recommendations from family and friends remain the most trusted source of discovery for Gen Z. At the same time,  media publishers have become an important channel for discovery. 88% of both groups (Millenials and Gen Z) said that YouTube was their go-to source. But the similarities end there, as can be seen in the chart below. 

Moreover, Gen Z are more likely to adopt new platforms like TikTok for content discovery.

Successfully engaging with this generation (Gen Z) requires constant innovation and experimentation on platforms, both old and new.

VICE report

“I think that social media will still be a means of how people [discover content] for a long time. TikTok is popping now…A lot of these records have blown up on TikTok. So that’s how people are actually discovering it,” comments Jay Devonish, Director of A&R Marketing, Music at Entertainment One.

What makes content worth paying for today

Probably one of the most welcoming findings of this research, for publishers, is that 90% of digital natives pay for cultural content regularly. And that’s not all, the average person is paying for four different content services. 

Gen Z finds value in frictionless, personalized experiences. They want to be able to easily find content curated for them, gravitating toward platforms that do much of the hard work of discovery for them. 

VICE report

“Better quality, better experience, and convenience are what make content worth paying for today. Quality to Gen Z means a distinct offering with content they can’t get elsewhere,” the report states.

The report concludes with the following pointers for content creators aiming to cater to Gen Z: 

Cultural content for this generation should

  1. Represent the entire spectrum of diverse individuals
  2. Entertain as well as inform
  3. Draw original content from across the globe
  4. Empower and support unique voices
  5. Put quality over quantity (and ad-free platforms)
  6. Enable discovery and engagement across platforms

The full report is available here
Gen Z: The Culture of Content Consumption