Gen Z more engaged with politics in post-Trump and Brexit era

15/10/2019

The younger generation of 16-24 year olds globally are 40% more likely to engage in social issues than they were in 2016, and are more savvy when it comes to spotting sponsored content, with 34% of respondents able to identify branded posts, according to new research.

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The “Content Moments” study from Verizon Media looks at the motivations driving over 118,000 consumer interactions with online content from 60,000 people in 15 markets globally.
The study delves into the motivations and intentions behind consumer interactions with digital content, reveals the eight moments marketers should be aware of that are driving consumers’ consumption of online content.

Key findings:

• 16-24 year olds globally are 40% more likely to engage in social issues than they were in 2016

• Gen Z are also becoming more savvy when it comes to spotting sponsored content, with 34% of respondents able to identify branded posts

• Older generations are also seeking out more purpose from their online consumption

The study found notable changes in the type of content people are interested in. This is especially pronounced amongst the Gen Z audience (those aged between 16-24). This age group is significantly more likely to actively consume, respond to and share content related to politics, social issues and the environment than in 2016.

The change in attitudes is stark compared to just three years ago. Notably, the original study in 2016 was conducted prior to significant and polarising global events like the US presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the UK, both of which appear to have had an impact on how we behave online.

The research found that Gen Z was 45% more likely to consume political content, 40% more likely to consume content on social issues and 50% more likely to consume environmentally-led content online than when the research was first conducted in 2016. And perhaps more importantly, their motivation and intent has shifted significantly towards becoming more purposeful with online consumption. A greater proportion of 16-24s are going online to research something specific, get practical takeaways, learn something new/gain new ideas, or to stay updated on what’s going on than they were in 2016.

Older generations are also seeking out more purpose from their online consumption - but at a slower rate (this is significantly more pronounced amongst those aged 45+) than amongst younger audiences. The research illustrates that consumers who are motivated to actively engage with content are also more likely to actively engage with advertising appearing alongside, or within, that content.

The study found that when consumers have a purpose or strategy in mind (i.e. going online to research something specific or to compare and evaluate ideas) they are more open to interaction with brands. Consumers are 28% more likely to notice brand sponsorships, 26% more likely to share content, 43% more likely to interact with brands* and 54% more likely to purchase from the brand. These figures are even more pronounced amongst Gen Z; they are 47% more likely to notice brand sponsorships, 42% more likely to share content, 64% more likely to interact with brands* and 78% more likely to purchase the brand vs. the online population.

The expansive, global study of more than 60,000 respondents explored over 118,000 consumer interactions with online content in 15 markets: the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Hong Kong.

Participants were guided through recalling online moments they had. The data gathered was used to pinpoint eight universal motivations that drive consumers to engage with various types of digital content, topics and formats regardless of country or culture.

The motivations are defined as:

• Inspire: looking for fresh ideas or trying something new
• Delight: enjoying heart-warming moments that provide self-assurance
• Find: seeking an answer or researching a specific topic
• Connect: experiencing content with others
• Observe: observing others during downtime
• Entertain: looking for entertainment or a mental break
• Inform: staying updated on current affairs or gaining new perspectives
• Comfort: seeking support or reassurance

Key UK findings based on over 4,100 respondents:

At a local level, UK Gen Z audiences (between 16-24) follow the global pattern, being more likely to actively consume, respond with and share content related to politics, social issues and the environment than in 2016.

The study found that this age group were 17% more likely to consume political content, 29% more likely to consume content on social issues and 37% more likely to consume environmentally-led content online than when the research was first conducted in 2016.
UK online consumers overall have become more purposeful in their intent, the top 10 motivations show a 17% increase in likelihood to be practical in nature vs. 2016 - with practical motivations taking 3 of the top 5 spots:

Anita Caras, Research Director, Verizon Media, commented on the findings: “This research provides marketers with incredibly valuable insights as it illustrates that consumers are more actively seeking out digital content with the clear intent to engage with it and, as a consequence, also interact with advertising. We saw that when consumers have a purpose or strategy in mind they are more likely to notice brand sponsorships, share branded content, interact with brands* and purchase from them. They are also much more likely to seek out their information from reputable, quality sources; marketers should therefore be looking at premium, quality content opportunities that align with consumer expectation and intent to create a winning digital strategy.”

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