January 7, 2022 | Jayden Vernon

A Gen Z Perspective on Digital Media

As Generation Z becomes a growing buying power, we asked our own Gen Z team member, Media Coordinator Jayden Vernon, to share his perspectives on the digital habits of his generation. 

In addition to working full time at WS, I’m currently in school. At the time of writing this, December has just begun. As a student, the month of December means that classes are near the end, and exams and holidays begin, leaving me with a three-week study period until exams start before Christmas. 

These weeks are often challenging due to the constant battle between procrastination and studying, generating some of my most extensive time on digital media platforms.

To share insight into my digital habits, I sacrificed my weekly iPhone screen time data during this period for this article. Overall, I spent an average of 6 hours looking at the screen of my iPhone.

Time SpentCategoryPlatforms
2 hr 30 mEntertainmentYoutube, Dazn, Spotify, TSN, Apple Podcasts
1 hr 20 mSocial MediaTikTok, Twitter, Snapchat
51 mProductivity & FinanceGmail, Yahoo Finance
1 hShopping & FoodAmazon, Uber Eats

An Average Digital Day

Digital media is a part of my daily life, from when I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep. I use it to complete schoolwork, socialize, and stay informed on current events.

On an average Saturday, it is common for me to wake up, turn on my phone, and scroll through Twitter and Instagram instead of turning on the news. These platforms will be a continued source of information, as I follow and turn on the notifications of companies and events I wish to keep up with. Social media such as Twitter and Instagram also naturally keep me updated with the latest trends and breaking news. 

Next, I usually make breakfast and watch TV shows and Saturday morning sports on connected TV, using an Amazon Fire Stick. I can stream some of my favourite apps such as Dazn, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Youtube and Global. I will often socialize with friends throughout the day, by exchanging memes and videos through Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter. I also use Spotify or the Apple Podcast platform to listen to multiple podcasts during long drives. My personal experience with digital media is customized to what I choose to interact with daily. 

The Bigger Picture

While I know my experiences with digital media are anecdotal, emarketer reports on Gen Z media data tend to show that my experience is typical among my peers. 

Social media is the highest consumed digital media source among individuals ages 18-24. Millennials pioneered the platforms, and we have adopted them. Generation Z is mainly responsible for bringing popularity to new apps as well. 

For example, TikTok is one of the leading platforms, giving Gen Z a way to influence each other – and be influenced. We share information, bring awareness to important issues, and create trends. Organic and influencer marketing on the platform ensure we never miss a new product. And the algorithm keeps it all personalized to our preferences. 

What’s Trending?

When Gen Z goes shopping, we tend to ride the waves of trends.  Scrolling through our social media feeds, we’ll watch an influencer or brand recommend a product, leading us to look up the product online.

According to PWC’s 2021 Holiday Outlook survey, 80% of adults state that social media has one of the most significant impacts on the average Gen Z’s online purchases. This is no surprise, as following trends is one of the major forces behind our digital purchases. We depend on apps such as Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter to guide us to purchase the most popular trending items.

The Popeye’s chicken sandwich craze was a great example of how social media influenced many Gen Z’s to crave a product at once. Popeye’s released their chicken sandwich, going viral on social media to compete with other competing fast-food brands. Influencers participated in chicken sandwich taste test competitions and rating videos on Tik Tok and Instagram, leading to hysteria for the sandwich. 

Today, the urgent need for a chicken sandwich has now disappeared. As Gen Z, we spend most of our time on social media platforms allowing our community to move along with each trend as a group. 

What Does This Mean For Your Brand?

As trends continue to move over time, brands need to understand 3 rules. 

First, the Gen Z community values authenticity, brand action, and giving back. It is essential that your brand gives back to the community and its customers. 

Secondly, your brand is expected to be in tune with all social justice issues allowing consumers to understand where you stand – so that we can feel comfortable standing alongside you. 

Lastly, have fun with your brand. Make sure that you include individuals inspired by your products to represent them. Our culture values influencers in most of our purchases, so a good word goes a long way. 

Jayden Vernon

Jayden works with the media and communication team to ensure campaigns run smoothly, building the experience and knowledge he needs to run this place one day.