Gen Z have been exposed to technology their whole lives. It’s no surprise they navigate online platforms like it’s second nature. This generation’s age bracket includes anyone born between 1997-2012; the oldest among them are now entering adulthood. They are the first true generation of digital natives, growing up in the age of smartphones and constant connectivity.

What Content is Gen Z Consuming? 

The social networks with the most monthly Gen Z users are Snapchat (44.5 million), TikTok (41.4 million), and Instagram (37.3 million). – Statista

Nearly all (95%) American teenagers aged 13 to 17 report using TikTok, with 16% saying they use it almost constantly. — Pew Research Center 

Three-quarters tend to spend their free time online, primarily texting and chatting. Twenty-five percent spend more than five hours on their mobile phones every day. They expect frictionless, fast interactions; 62% will not use an app or website that is hard to navigate, and 60% will not use an app or website that is too slow to load. – IBM Institute for Business Value

Fifty percent of Gen Z say they are “somewhat likely” to sign up for a Threads account. – CivicScience

They make heavy use of social networks to create connections, consume multimedia, play games, and share content. Gen Z spends an average of four hours on apps each day (excluding games), and 98% of them own a smartphone. – Business of Apps

75% of Gen Zers say their device of choice is their smartphone. – Forbes

“The unique thing about Gen Z is that while millennials have grown up with social media, Gen Z has grown up with video-first social media.” – Digiday

Related: Millennial Consumption Fact Sheet

Shopping and Purchasing Habits

In today’s digital, subscription-based economy, access often trumps ownership. What does Gen Z value enough to pay for? 61% would pay for better quality, 56% for a better experience, and 50% for convenience. – Vice + Ontario Creates

Related: 5 Signs Your Customer Experience Problem Is Really a Content Problem

While most Gen Z consumers (77%) expect prices to rise over the next 12 months, only 20% of these shoppers expect to spend less. – Square

In Gen Z, aged 15 to 22, 63% of respondents rank high-quality products among the most important factors that encourage them to spend more on a brand, while 45% said they spend more on a brand when a friend or someone they know shops there. – Bluestone PIM 

This generation is used to transacting within a social platform, without necessarily visiting a retailer’s website. “Gen Z has moved beyond the e-commerce favored by millennials and has become at home with social commerce — the practice of purchasing wholly within a social media platform.” – Forbes

Twenty-eight percent of Gen Zers aged 13 to 17 say social media influences their purchasing habits. Thirty-nine percent of Gen Zers aged 18-23 say social media influences their purchasing habits. – McKinsey

You’ll stand the best chance of capturing as many customers as possible if you follow an omnichannel strategy. Although this is true of all generations, it’s especially so when it comes to Gen Z. They use many different channels to shop (including social media), and they respond well to personalized experiences/messaging. – Talon.One 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to End-to-End Content

Gen Z shoppers expect businesses to use their data to create a level of familiarity that mimics the in-person shopping experience without being invasive or overbearing. 64% expect a more personalized experience on social media based on previous interactions. – Sprout Social

Gen Zers are cautious about sharing sensitive personal information online. Less than 30% are willing to share health and wellness, location, or payment information. – IBM Institute for Business Value

Related: Content Trends 2024: The Epic of Extremes Intensifies

Topics of Concern for Gen Z

Social change is a priority for Gen Z, who are often stereotyped as social justice warriors. – Nonprofit Pro 

40% of Gen Zers agree that it’s too late to fix climate change and that a brand’s environmental impact has and will influence their buying decisions. – Deloitte 

I think there’s a real authenticity to the Gen Z generation in saying they want to breathe new life into what corporate responsibility looks like. And one of the biggest elements that’s come out of the research in the last few years has been the focus on values. They’re looking beyond tangible products and actually trying to understand what is it that makes the company tick. What’s its mission? What’s its purpose? And what is it actually trying to build for us as a society? – McKinsey 

Gen Z most closely mirrors millennials on key social and political issues, but without much of the optimism; More US Gen Zers than any other generation (68%) feel the US is headed in the wrong direction. – Insider Intelligence 

While cost of living (29%) and climate change (24%) are the top concerns of both Gen Z and Millennials, Gen Z is much more concerned about mental health (19%) and sexual harassment (17%) than previous generations. Additionally, only 28% of Gen Z think their economic situation will improve within the next year. – Hootsuite 

More than nine in 10 Gen Z adults (91%) said they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom because of stress, such as feeling depressed or sad (58%) or lacking interest, motivation or energy (55%). Only half of all Gen Zers feel like they do enough to manage their stress. – American Psychological Association

Self-expression and identity are central to their beliefs/values. They (Gen Z) are constantly seeking out brands that match their values or help them express themselves better or become a better version of themselves. – YourStory

Diversity and inclusion is also important to Gen Z consumers; 76% of Gen Zers feel diversity and inclusion is an important topic for brands to address. And 51% would like to see brands include more diverse casting and imagery in their advertising and branding – Quantilope

Related: 3 Keys to Inclusive Health Content by March of Dimes’ Sr Director of Consumer Education

“Inclusive language is table stakes for Gen Z. As the most diverse generation yet, they will tune you out if your voice is not inclusive.” – Colleen Jones, Content Voice: Aligning + Scaling Your Voice Webinar 

Gen Zers are radically inclusive, not defining themselves through one stereotype but freely experimenting with different identities over time. In fact, 48% of Gen Zers value brands that don’t classify items as male or female. For most brands, that is truly new territory. – McKinsey

Sixty-six percent of the Gen Zers in our survey believe that communities are created by causes and interests, not by economic backgrounds or educational levels. – McKinsey

Additional Factors Influencing Gen Z 

Gen Z is said to be more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, as well as the most well educated. – Pew Research Center

Companies should be attuned to three implications for this generation: consumption as access rather than possession, consumption as an expression of individual identity, and consumption as a matter of ethical concern. – McKinsey

Media consumption by Generation Z is driven by the need to stay up to date to voice an opinion, either to be seen as an influencer or to contribute meaningfully in discussions. – Think With Google

Gen Z tend to follow individual content creators/influencers more than Millennials do. And they most often share content on an individual level – in person or by shooting a text message to their friends and family.  Personal recommendations from family and friends remain the most trusted source of discovery for cultural content. – Vice + Ontario Creates

Gen Z are more pragmatic and analytical about their decisions than members of previous generations were. 65% particularly value knowing what is going on around them and being in control. This generation of self-learners is also more comfortable absorbing knowledge online than in traditional institutions of learning. – McKinsey

Gen Z are 29% more likely than other generations to say they’re money driven and ambitious. – GWI 

Gen Z tend to be comfortable with collating and cross-referencing various sources of information. According to Google, 74% of Gen Z search for information online and 47% of those are looking to verify specific information. 

“Gen Zers want nuances in a world of bite-sized information. With so many people expressing opinions online and a pervasive cancel culture, Gen Z consults multiple sources to find out where online publications or platforms are getting their facts, as well as search for multiple perspectives to form their own opinion and be able to back it up.” – Think With Google

Related: Social Media and Content Marketing Certification with CSA


Gen Z is focused on individual expression and identity in their content consumption. They are more likely to advocate for specific causes that they have researched through online media platforms. And they are more open to discussion with others of differing values and belief systems. 

Gen Z places great emphasis on company ethics. They are more likely to purchase from a brand with trusted ethics and more likely to boycott brands they deem problematic. Gen Z also shows a strong aversion to causewashing, opting for brands they think are more genuine.  

Their habits will evolve as the generation ages, but for now, it’s safe to say that social media, music, and video games remain key ways to reach Gen Z.  The rise of Gen Z as a marketing demographic and a participant in the workforce have already had significant effects on content trends. 

The Author

Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

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