From Newspapers to News Feeds: 4 Crucial Ways News Consumption is Changing, According to Gen Z

When Gen Zers are asked how and when they consume news, their answers are almost always the same: “I don’t read too much news, maybe five to 10 minutes in the morning or a quick glance at an email newsletter.I’ve set my phone to notify me of any important headlines throughout the day, but most of the time I’ll just check Twitter or Instagram and note any important trends or stories.”

Long gone are the days of sitting at the kitchen table in the morning and reading the newspaper with a nice cup of joe. Now, it’s all about fast-paced, to-the-point, and easily accessible news. At least according to Gen Z, a generation that has completely changed how news is both consumed and distributed. With their spending power on the rise, retailers are beginning to take notice and shift brand outreach strategies and marketing campaigns to reach this influential audience of buyers.

And there is good reason to be paying so much attention to Gen Z. Young students and professionals aged 10 to 25 command about $360 billion in disposable income in the United States—and that number continues to grow.An increasing number of young professionals are now accepting full-time offers after graduating from university or picking up side-hustles to further expand their income.

Gen Z has not made it easy for brands to breakthrough and earn their loyalty. These are the young individuals who experienced the 2008 recession at an impressionable age and are now entering the job market during a global pandemic. Such circumstances have seriously influenced how emerging consumers handle money—most prefer to save and invest. In today’s economic climate, Gen Z shoppers are motivated by a combination of value, exclusivity, and influencers. Unless brands can use these factors to their advantage, they’ll continue to miss out on Gen Z’s prudent yet powerful spending habits. Understanding how news consumption is changing can help companies more effectively capture this important audience. Here are four trends marketers should keep their eye on as Gen Z continues to command a large share of the market:

  1. Social media is taking over

An impressive 50% of Gen Zers report using social media networks as their primary source of news on a daily basis according to a Statista survey. This demographic is also significantly less likely to listen to the radio or watch TV for their news, compared to Millennials. Almost 60% claim that they never read the newspaper.

This data reflects a huge shift from big-name news publications and media outlets towards smaller and more interactive platforms that cater to the specific needs and desires of individual readers.

  1. Twitter is making a comeback

Twitter is sometimes considered an empty void for documenting random thoughts, posting funny memes, or conversing with strangers when watching ‘The Bachelor.’ However, the social media outlet has since advanced to become so much more than just a place to rant when having a bad day. It’s recently been described as “the new newspaper for Gen Z.”

Nearly half of all Tweets sent during 2021 in the US came from users aged 16 to 24.Moving forward, brands should be taking an integrated approach by engaging with their Gen Z audience through Twitter conversations to keep the talent and memes flowing, while boosting their overall presence within the influential app.

To maximize brand engagements on Twitter, keep your tweets short and sweet, only include the most important two or three hashtags that support your message, and try engaging with influential users who can elevate your brand to their audience.

  1. It’s all about the headlines

Informal field research among Gen Zers over the past month showed that few spend more than 10 minutes reading the news per day. A few outliers spend more time reading the news if they’re in a media-related industry and it’s a part of their job, if they’re bored and have nothing else to do, or if their parents have it playing on the TV in the background.

Gen Z values easily accessible and comprehensible news as opposed to long media segments or complex articles. Our smartphones have played a significant role in this phenomenon, consuming our attention with engaging advertisements and compelling headlines.

The bottom line is that headlines are more important than ever, and buzzwords are key in getting your story to the top of the trending list on social media platforms. You want your story to pop up within those 10 crucial minutes of social media surfing.

  1. It’s an Influencer’s world, we’re all just living in it

The occupation of ‘influencer’ has always been around in some shape or form, but they have recently become an even more popular tool for targeting consumers and raising brand awareness. The power that some of these influencers possess is almost ridiculous. One of the most famous influencers that has emerged over the past five years, Charli d’Amelio, recently turned 18 and has more than 48 million followers on Instagram. Her opinion and review of a product or service could make or break any given brand. All it takes is one bad review from a powerful influencer to essentially get ‘canceled.’If you’re taking this approach, proceed with caution.

What does all of this mean and why is it important?

Although the landscape of news consumption is changing rapidly and Gen Z is becoming a powerful player in the fight for brand retention and loyalty, there is still hope for brands and media outlets still adapting to these changes. Reporters, PR professionals, and communications experts must take an integrated approach when it comes to influencing Gen Z through social media. It’s also incredibly important to stay informed of these trends and communicate them with clients as efficiently and accurately as possible.

The ongoing evolution of social media has also raised ethical concerns around mental health and accurate information sharing. Biased and opinionated posts can construe one’s perceptions of what may be incredibly important news stories. A Statista survey taken in February 2022 showed that 58% of adults view social media as the least trusted source of news available. These contradicting ideas—that social media is both the most used form of news consumption and the least trusted source of news—create a delicate dance that brands must learn to stay relevant and trustworthy in the eyes of Gen Z.

All in all, the future of news consumption is bright… At least it will be if your screen brightness is turned up all of the way!

By Sarah Euto

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.