The study also reveals that the use of advertising isn’t necessarily a non-starter for Gen Z music consumers. “We are no longer in an era where an ad-free experience is an incentive to pay for content,” it concludes. “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.”
Indeed, 75 percent of respondents said original content was important to them. The top channels where they discover new cultural content are, in order of popularity, friends/family and social media; music streaming services; and on media publishers’ websites.
At a recent presentation of the findings at Vice’s Toronto headquarters, Ontario Creates president and CEO Karen Thorne-Stone said, “Our business intelligence activities aim to provide forward thinking, big picture information on emerging issues and trends that we ultimately hope will give Ontario companies an edge and marketplace.” Partnering with Vice allowed the agency to “take advantage of Vice's base and research capacity, but also their unprecedented access to Gen Z consumers,” she continued.
Why Gen Z? Vice Canada’s vp of strategy & creative Amy Davies said the generation is “growing in significance in the market. They’re coming out of their educational years; they’re entering the work force 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.”
In spearheading the study, Vice -- a youth-oriented, often cutting-edge content creator and the world's largest independent youth media company -- conducted an online survey last August of 500 of its media consumers between the ages of 14 and 22, the older end of Gen Z (born 1997 onwards). The survey was only offered to Ontarians. Another 150 people ages 23 to 39 (millennials) were also surveyed, with Davies noting they ran “a comparison to millennials so that we can truly understand some of the shifts.” Given that the study was limited to Vice consumers, the sample is not necessarily representative of all members of Gen Z or the millennial generation.
The study kicked off with a series of conversations with content creators across industries, who identified the complex challenges and strategies needed to capture Gen Z's attention. Some of those opinions are included in the final report.
“We certainly hope the findings on the culture of content consumption on Gen Z will help our Ontario content producers understand who this audience actually is, what motivates them, [and] what content they want to consume,” said Thorne-Stone. “And perhaps most importantly, what content they’re willing to pay for. So armed with that intelligence, Ontario companies will be better positioned to develop the critical business and content development strategies that they need to grow their businesses.”