What you need to know

Generation Z are driving the shift away from traditional TV viewing to streaming services and video-sharing websites. As such, 77% of this age group watch content from video-sharing websites more frequently than TV from a set-top box and 24% have a subscription to a video-sharing website like YouTube Premium. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for companies to reach Generation Z through TV advertising. Services such as YouTube TV could play an important role for advertisers in the future as a means of reaching Generation Z on a platform they use frequently.

The limited social interaction brought about by COVID-19 is having a significant effect on 16-23 year olds. Spending time with friends in-person is their favourite activity and more than half have struggled with loneliness since the lockdown. Video calling apps have been critical in this period and despite some of the frustrations with using it, 63% of Generation Z are more likely to video call in the future as a result of COVID-19.

One of the threats in relation to technology habits and Generation Z is digital addiction. Some 56% of Generation Z are concerned about the mental health implications of using technology devices too often. However, this also represents an opportunity for manufacturers to reach out to Gen Z to help them with these issues, for example with newsletters featuring recent news articles and resources/advice on the theme of digital addiction. This can be useful as a way of building relationships with a generation who are tech enthusiasts but also increasingly concerned about their relationship with the devices they use every day.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the technology habits of Generation Z including which technology products they have used more often as a result of the outbreak.

  • How the popularity of smart earbuds and smartwatches is impacting Generation Z’s purchasing intentions for the next year.

  • Which technology devices they use most often for specific activities including shopping, online banking and watching media content.

  • Generation Z’s preference for streaming services ahead of traditional TV, and subscriptions to video-sharing websites.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January, with a small number of cases in February. The government focused on the ‘contain’ stage of its strategy, with the country continuing to operate much as normal. As the case level rose, the government ordered the closure of non-essential stores on 20 March.

A wider lockdown requiring people to stay at home expect for essential shopping, exercise and work ‘if absolutely necessary’ followed on 23 March. Initially, a three-week timeframe was put on the measures, which was extended in mid-April for another three weeks.

The Health Protections Regulations 2020 came into effect on 15 June allowing the reopening of all non-essential stores in England as well as the mandatory use of face coverings on public transport. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers were able to reopen on 4 July, with many beauty businesses following on 13 July.

From 24 July, it became mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets.

On 9 September, new guidelines were announced in England as a reaction to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. The major change was a tightening of restrictions on social contact, with people only allowed to socialise with groups of up to six people who they don’t live with.

On 22 September, the government announced a further tightening of restrictions coming into effect from September 24, stipulating that pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm, while plans to allow fans to return to sporting events were paused. People were also told they should work from home wherever possible.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its July 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. The scenario suggests that UK GDP could fall by 12.4% in 2020, recovering 8.7% in 2021 and that unemployment will reach 11.9% by the end of 2020, falling to 8.8% by the end of 2021.

The current uncertainty means that there is wide variation on the range of forecasts, however, something reflected in the OBR’s own scenarios. In its upside scenario, economic activity returns to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q1 2021. The OBR’s more negative scenario, by contrast, would mean that GDP does not recover until Q3 2024.

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Generation Z has been defined as those aged 16-23 years old.

  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2004

  • Younger Millennials: Born 1990-96

  • Older Millennials: Born 1981-89

  • Generation X: Born 1965-80

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-64

  • Swing Generation: Born in 1945 or before.

Back to top