Gen Z:
A Look Inside Its Mobile-First Mindset

It's time to get to know Generation Z.

Millennials have captivated marketers attention for years, but here we shift the spotlight to 13- to 17-year-olds.

In partnership with Ipsos, we explored this generation’s behaviors, tastes, and wants—which all act as bellwethers of future consumer trends. We were surprised to uncover notable differences between ethnic groups. And we found a marked evolution in their digital behaviors.

Today's teens had phones when they were in elementary or middle school, compared to high school or college for their older counterparts. And that shift is already shaping behaviors. Teens are moving from texting to messaging apps and from shopping on desktop computers to shopping on their phones.

While millennials were mobile pioneers, teens are mobile natives. Yet teens are equal parts aware of and wary of their dependence on technology—meaning their online lives are both spontaneous and carefully curated. This report shares new insights to help marketers better understand Gen Z and its members’ behaviors. For additional insights, download our full reports.

Top 5 screens used

While teens have a reputation as gamers, laptops, TVs, and of course, smartphones still reign supreme.

% who use each device

All Teens
78%
69%
68%
62%
52%
  • Smartphones
  • Laptop
  • Television
  • Game Console
  • Tablet
87%
86%
66%
43%
41%
87%
80%
72%
56%
56%
81%
69%
60%
56%
55%
79%
68%
59%
59%
50%
Smartphone
Laptop
Television
Gaming Console
Tablet
All Teens
78%
69%
68%
62%
52%
87%
86%
66%
43%
41%
87%
80%
72%
56%
56%
81%
69%
60%
56%
55%
79%
68%
59%
59%
50%

One thing teens and adults have in common: They use their phone more than any other device. Choose a demographic to see where they differ.

Early mobile adoption

Across ethnicities, today's 13- to 17-year-olds got their first smartphone at an earlier age than their older counterparts.

Teens

Age
All Teens
Age
Hispanic
Age
Black

Other groups

Age
Age
Ages 18-24
Ages 25-34

Mobile is the new primetime

Teens are shifting from texting to messaging apps to communicate.

% who say they spend 3+ hours per day on this activity

All Teens
71%
Watching
videos online
52%
Using
messaging apps
51%
Social networking
65%
Watching
videos online
40%
Social networking
38%
Texting
69%
Watching
videos online
43%
Using
messaging apps
43%
Social networking
76%
Watching
videos online
51%
Listening to music
51%
Social networking
81%
Watching
videos online
59%
Listening to music
56%
Social networking

Watching mobile video is how teens spend a lot of their time. Select a demographic above to see how they differ.

Emerging online purchasing power

While the majority of teens make purchases online, Hispanic teens shop online closer to the rate of young adults and adults.

% who make purchases online

Teens

68%
All Teens
82%
Hispanic
66%
Black

Other Groups

88%
Ages 18-24
89%
Ages 25-34

A generation of mobile shoppers

Across ethnicities, teens mostly use their smartphones to make purchases.

% that mostly use smartphones to make online purchases

Teens

53%
All Teens
53%
Hispanic
52%
Black

Other Groups

30%
Ages 18-24
43%
Ages 25-34

The cool factor

Teens are the only age group that say ads influence their perception of "cool" products.

Top 3 aspects that make a product "cool"

All Teens
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If I see an
ad about it
3
If it's something personalized to me
1
If it's something personalized to me
2
If friends are
talking about it
3
If I see or hear something on social media
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If it's something
personalized to me
3
If I see or hear something on social media
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If it's something
personalized to me
3
If I see or hear about it from an expert
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If it's something
personalized to me
3
If I see or hear
something on social media
1
If it's something personalized to me
2
If friends are
talking about it
3
If I see or hear something on social media
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If it's something
personalized to me
3
If I see or hear something on social media
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If it's something
personalized to me
3
If I see or hear about it from an expert
1
If friends are
talking about it
2
If it's something
personalized to me
3
If I see or hear
something on social media
1
If it's something
personalized to me
2
If friends are
talking about it
3
If I see or hear
something on social media

Dive deeper on teens with the following reports:

Sources:
All quotes were collected via phone interviews with 11 teens, U.S., Dec. 2016.
Other data from Google/Ipsos, U.S., "The Mobile-First Mindset of Gen Z," all teens defined as 13- to 17-year-olds n=1,000, Hispanic teens n=996, Black teens n=1000, 18- to 24-year-olds n=1,009, 25- to 34-year-olds n=1,004, Aug. 2016.