As Taylor continues to advance its knowledge and expertise in the esports space, the agency regularly monitors new studies coming out of the industry to determine what really drives the passion of this highly engaged audience of Gen Z gamers. Student Beans, a U.K.-based Gen Z marketing platform that works on brand campaigns internationally, recently released its 2020 U.S. shopping report that had tons of great insights across the entire demographic, including:
- 27% of Gen Z respondents have started supporting small businesses more than ever, and 86% of those people plan to continue their focus on small businesses after the pandemic
- 71% said they have changed their shopping habits due to Black Lives Matter, with 44% wanting to support more black-owned businesses and 40% trying not to buy from any brands linked to racism in the future
- Gen Z views recommendations by friends or family (54%) as the most trustworthy way to find a place to shop, while they view recommendations from celebs and influencers as the least trustworthy (17%)
- 97% of college students use social media, ranked below by what percentage uses it at least once per month:
- YouTube – 84%
- Instagram – 73%
- Snapchat – 63%
- TikTok – 48%
- Facebook – 42%
- Twitter – 38%
While the entire report goes into various verticals (fashion, entertainment, food & beverage, etc.), the area of greatest intrigue came from how popular gaming has become in the demographic. Around three quarters of 16–24-year-olds play a mobile, console or computer game monthly, which is higher than those who use music streaming services, video streaming services or watch cable TV. The pandemic has certainly fueled much of that growth, with more than half of respondents saying they are gaming more than usual, regardless of platform.
The key finding of why this growth is happening? Community. More of Gen Z belongs to a gaming community than any other passion area (music, their college, brands, shows, etc.), and that’s because they are seeking to stay connected with friends and make new ones wherever they are. This is where brands can lean in, as it provides a perfect opportunity to allow people to connect. We see that gaming fans welcome ads and sponsorships during streams if it helps support the titles and personalities they love, because they see the brand as keeping their community alive and thriving.
Mark Beal, Assistant Professor of Practice in Public Relations at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information, as well as former Taylor Managing Partner, recently conducted his own quarterly Gen Z survey. The results add another layer to what they want to see from brands. Not only do 43% of Gen Zers actively participate in communities of shared interests on Discord and 29% on Reddit, they also have become the “purpose generation.” Beal’s data revealed that nearly 86% of Gen Z will research a brand prior to purchase to see if it helps society, and if they learn it’s not purposeful, more than a quarter will purchase a competitor’s product, and just under that amount will share that research with friends.
Naturally, Gen Z is excited for the return of live events as well as 80% agree that the most effective way to engage them is via unique access, events and experiences. However, regardless of whether the event is on or offline, the way to authentically raise awareness among this audience is through community building and meaning making. It’s no longer enough to provide a useful product to Gen Z; brands have to be actively contributing to their current and future wellbeing.