Gen Z - Why This Mobile-First Generation Is Different

Known as the mobile-first generation, Generation Z got their first smartphones much earlier than other generations. In fact, three-quarters got a smartphone before turning 18, compared to less than half of Millennials.

The mobile advertising and app-monetization company Tapjoy released its latest Modern Mobile Gamer report Thursday, focusing on the attitudes and behaviors of Generation Z when it comes to their mobile devices.

One important point to remember is that this generation doesn’t really know a world without smartphones, reminds us Lauren Baca, senior director of marketing at Tapjoy.

Tapjoy surveyed 7,103 U.S.-based residents between the ages of 18 and 24 in February.

This report is the first in a series of four Modern Mobile Gamer e-books featuring key insights on Gen Z, Millennials, Generation Y and Parents, scheduled for release later this year.

More than half of Gen Zers have discovered at least one new product while on their mobile devices through content such as short videos, memes and social posts.

Sorry, search marketers -- Tapjoy’s survey suggests they dislike search result ads and non-skippable video ads, and prefer to engage with rewarded ads in mobile apps.

In fact, Tapjoy discovered that more than half of this generation reports engaging with rewarded mobile game ads compared with 38% on Instagram, 23% on TikTok, 22% on Facebook, 17% on Twitter, and 16% on Google Shopping. Other insights include:

  • 68% shop on mobile up to four times weekly
  • 22% of Generation Z got their first smartphone at age 10 or younger, and 61% got theirs between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • Almost half replace smartphones every two to three years. Their favorite mobile activities are games, social media, and entertainment such as streaming apps like Netflix or Disney+
  • 86% use mobile devices as a gaming platform, compared with 42% who use console/handheld devices and 38% who play on a PC
  • 60% frequently purchase to-go food or delivery
  • 57% make frequent retail purchases on mobile, especially when rewarded in mobile games, and through Instagram ads

During 2020, 66% reported downloading more gaming apps, compared to 59% of Millennials and 56% of Generation X. Gen Z’s favorite games to play are Action/adventure, Role-Playing Games, and Puzzle/Match-3.

Those who are members of Gen Z are avid followers of retail brands on social media. Some 65% follow clothing and fashion brands, compared with 52% of Millennials and 40% of Gen X.

Gen Z are also the most likely generation to prefer humorous brand content. they show a strong preference for short videos, with 66% listing it as a preferred content type compared to 63% among Millennials and 59% for Gen X.

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