Generation Z Asian girl under umbrella

Successful Generation Z marketing strategies are adapting to this generation’s 8 second attention span and how they consume content, as well as their ideological differences. Explore how recent events are shaping Generation Z behaviors and attitudes around media, video content, brand relationships, lifestyles, beliefs and their future outlook from Horowitz’s State of Gen Z study, ViacomCBS’ latest global study across 15 countries, Beyond 2020 Global Youth Voices and Futures, and other leading sources.

Gen Z Research and Videos

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Horowitz’s Focus Generation Next provides a comprehensive look at Gen Z’s relationship and behaviors around video content (long form, user generated, eSports, etc.), entertainment, relationship with brands, and what brands needs to consider when looking to engage.

Who is Generation Z?

Gen Z girl blowing gum bubble

Generation Z (aka Gen Z, iGen, centennials, post-Millennials, or homeland generation), refers to the generation that was born between 1997-2012. This generation has been raised on the internet and social media, with some of the oldest finishing college by 2020 and entering the workforce.

Gen Z Purchasing Power:
  • Gen Z – which includes today’s teenagers and young 20-somethings – currently makes up 26% of the U.S. population and is expected to account for about 40% of all consumer markets. (Forbes)
  • This generation is starting to enter the workforce – and as their earning power increases, so will their buying power as they already represent $44B in annual U.S. purchasing power. (IBM Institute for Business Value study, 2020)
  • Gen Z also accounts for more than three-quarters (77%) of digital buyers with estimates to reach 85% (over 55M) by 2025 (e.Marketer, 2021)

Gen Z Statistics

Media & Entertainment:
  • Average Gen Z attention span = 8 seconds (Source: Sparks & Honey)
  • Gen Z uses 5 screens on average: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and IPod/IPad (Source: Sparks & Honey)
  • Gen Z use an average of 5.5 streaming services to stream TV content, fewer services than among adult streamers, who average 7.5 services used regularly. (Horowitz Gen Z Study)
  • 61% agree connections will be maintained by online connections in future (highest figures in Asia) (ViacomCBS)
  • Gaming: 95% of Gen Z self-identify as gamers with 79% who actively game on a daily basis (Magid)

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  • 83% expect to be able to watch what I want, where and when (ViacomCBS)
  • While Gen Z is more likely to stream video content to a smartphone, they still prefer a TV set for long-form content. (Horowitz)
  • Streaming: How Gen Zers (ages 13 – 24) watch long-form and short-form video content daily. (Horowitz)

Report streaming video to a smartphone

Report streaming video to a TV set

Report streaming video to a laptop

Report streaming video to a smart TV

Report streaming video to a gaming console

Report streaming video to a tablet

Report streaming video to handheld gaming consoles including VR

  • While Netflix is the most popular streaming service—with over three-quarters (78%) of Gen Z streamers using it regularly—other SVOD services, including Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max, are also heavily used, as are free services like YouTube (for TV content) and The Roku Channel. (Horowitz Gen Z Study)
  • Long-form content (46%) and short-form content (54%) are equally important for Gen Z. (Horowitz Gen Z Study)
  • Gen Z are most likely to stream short form content that are funny content and memes (60%), content that aligns with their values (50%), and political content (33%). (Horowitz Gen Z Study)
  • Amazon Watch Party (AWP) shows some interesting differences by demographic, showing there is room in the co-viewing space for different services targeting specific markets. Those age 35-54 (57%) are more likely to use AWP than co-viewers age 16-34 (37%), and men (52%) more likely to use AWP than women (31%). (Hub Entertainment Research)
  • Young co-viewers age 16-24 are less than half as likely to say they use Amazon Watch Party than adults 35-54 (24% vs 57%).  And a third (33%) of 16-24s use Discord, compared with a quarter (26%) of older viewers ages 35-74. (Hub Entertainment Research)

Source: 2021 Evolution of the TV Set Study, Hub Entertainment Research

  • 75% agree that watching TV shows and movies will continue to be an important part of their life (ViacomCBS)
  • Viewing Behaviors: Gen Z audiences prefer more engaging TV set experiences. (Horowitz)

66% occasionally text or direct message on social media about shows they are watching.

60% report watching TV shows simultaneously with peers in different households, virtually discussing the show through messaging, social media, or co-viewing online experiences.

56% are interested in co-viewing experiences like Netflix Party and Hulu Watch Party.

  • Sixty-seven percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers recall seeing out of home advertising on social media, and 91% Gen Zers and 82% of Millennials say they would reshare OOH ads on social. (OOH Media Opportunities: Consumer Insights and Intent Report)
  • A majority (82%) of both Gen Zers and Millennials say they are open to seeing some type of ad within VR or AR, and 72% of US adults in larger urban centers say the same. (OOH Media Opportunities: Consumer Insights and Intent Report)
Emotional State:
  • 46% (up from 38%) stressed and only 52% happy (down from 70%) (ViacomCBS)
  • 55% hopeful for a positive future (ViacomCBS)
Current Issues:
Gen Z consider it important to:

Gen Z Current Issues, climate control, racism
  • 73% impacted by things other than COVID (racial injustice, politics, natural disasters, climate change, etc.) (ViacomCBS)
  • Number one priority for them is environment ahead of economy, systemic racism (ViacomCBS)
  • Areas where hopeful to see change (they have high hopes, but low expectations) include crime, violence, terrorism, wars around the world, and people’s mental health (ViacomCBS)
  • 83% expect brands to take stand against social injustice; 78% agree brands will take more of a stand against social injustice (ViacomCBS)
  • 84% agree both physical and mental health will be very important in future (ViacomCBS)
  • 75% agree mental health will be a problem in society in future; 83% agree there will be openness and acceptance of mental health (but not necessarily solutions) (ViacomCBS)mCBS)
Individual/Professional Growth and Prosperity:
  • Craving security and stability for themselves – stable job, keep loved ones safe, etc. (ViacomCBS)
  • 80% agree remote work will be the norm (ViacomCBS)
  • 79% believe AI and automation will replace jobs (ViacomCBS)
  • 60% feel they will struggle financially in the future (ViacomCBS)
  • 41% expect to see positive financial change in the next 10 years (ViacomCBS)
Leisure and Travel:
  • 84% agree spending time in person will be important – no substitute for IRL (ViacomCBS)
  • 72% agree they will travel as much as they did pre-COVID in future and that travel influences personal growth and understanding of others around the globe (ViacomCBS)
  • 72% will choose environmentally friendly vacations with 39% saying they won’t fly due to harm on environment (ViacomCBS)

Gen Z Resources

State of Gen Z Study

This study provides a comprehensive look at Gen Z’s relationship and behaviors around video content (long form, user generated, eSports, etc.), entertainment, relationship with brands, and what brands needs to consider when looking to engage these politically aware digital natives.


Download this infographic (PDF)
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Gen Z Insights Blog

Tap into insights from ViacomCBS’s global executives through this interactive blog on Generation Z and Millennials around the world.

Beyond 2020: Young People’s Priorities and Expectations for the Future
According to our new global study Beyond 2020, when 16- to 24-year-olds think about the future they crave stability, believe the environment needs urgent attention, predict that mental health will become more of a priority, and expect social justice to rise in importance.

In a Year Marked by Disruption, Young People Around the World Remain Optimistic
Our new global study, Beyond 2020, looks at how the chaos of this year is affecting 16- to 24-year-olds around the world.

Four Takeaways for Marketing to Gen Z

1 | Is Your Gen Z Strategy Mobile Only?

Mobile devices, factored into a marketing strategy, can deliver richer experiences.

  • About two-thirds (66% Gen Z’ers are often on more than one device at the same time. (IBM Institute for Business Value study, 2020)
  • As for smartphones, it is estimated that 83% of Gen Zers had one in 2020, up from the 50% it reported in 2013. (e.Marketer)


  • Brands with the ability to send out mobile push notifications will benefit from this to deliver a seamless experience, which will be more important than ever. (Agility PR Solutions)
  • And because this generation is more finicky, personalizing messages is also important. Brands that can leverage tailored lists, SMS, and produce ads on products recently visited will see bigger returns. (Agility PR Solutions)
  • Because of Gen Z’s short attention span, other social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram offer opportunities to share stories with Gen Zers. This young audience seeks convenience and platforms providing short answers to problems will also yield results. (Agility PR Solutions)
2 | Be Proactive: Gen Z Believes Brands Can Create Real Change

Gen Z is more tolerant of gender and race than any other generation causing brands to shift to match these ideals. They gravitate towards companies that make a statement and believe brands can create real change around social issues.

  • But beware, Gen Zers have no brand loyalty—52% said they will switch at once if they aren’t pleased. (National Retail Federation, 2020)
  • Apple – carbon neutral by 2030 (ViacomCBS)
  • Brewdog (Scottish brewer) – carbon negative in future, planting trees to off-set carbon output. Message – drink their beer for positive impact on environment (ViacomCBS)
  • Ben & Jerrys – “Justice remix’d” flavor with proceeds going to criminal justice reform to help people inside of prisons (ViacomCBS)
3 | Tap into Gen Z’s Need for Escapism

Provide an escape for young to let loose and have fun

  • MTV generation change – short videos to express desires (ViacomCBS)
  • Fortnite party royale – festival-fun, digital event (ViacomCBS)
  • Lady Gaga Fundrager – fundraiser and entertainment tied to album release (ViacomCBS)
4 | Inspire: Be Fun, Innovative and Authentic

Unlike earlier generations, Gen Zers aren’t as impressed with marketing. Their preference is for influencers who are closer in age to them, relatable and responsive. They even rank slightly higher than a recommendation from a friend.


  • Entrepreneur reported that 50% of Gen Zers “can’t live without YouTube”
    Brands can build additional engagement with their own channel on YouTube.

    • Lush Cosmetics went behind the scenes to show consumers how their products are made as well as how to use them creating much success in this digital space. (Agility PR Solutions)
  • Gen Zers are the next generation of entrepreneurs with 55% more likely to start a business than millennials (Small Business Trends). Brands that address, encourage and foster this innovative spirit will discover an audience that is loyal and follows them. (Agility PR Solutions)

Help young people explore their interest in travel, in culture, self-discovery (mental health improvements)

  • Window Swap – online site that shows a view of someone else’s window to have a view into their world (ViacomCBS)
  • Trippin – travel guides with celebrities to see other locales (ViacomCBS)
  • Coke – together tastes better campaign, emphasizing the importance of physically being together (ViacomCBS)