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Gen Z also point to diversity gap in creative content, according to new study by Ontario Creates and VICE

TORONTO, January 8, 2020 |Gen Z is redefining how cultural content – meaning music, film, television, art, lifestyle, gaming, and literature – is being discovered, consumed and shared, and they’re willing to pay for it, according to a study released by Ontario Creates, a provincial agency that facilitates economic development and investment in the creative industries. The research was conducted by VICE, the world’s largest independent youth media company. 

The study, titled “Gen Z: The Culture of Content Consumption”, surveyed those between 14 to 22 years old and found that they are willing to pay for the content they desire, with 90% reporting they pay for cultural content regularly. The survey also finds that Gen Z wants to see much more diversity in the stories and people they see, with one in two saying there is a gap in diversity of gender, sexual identity and ethnic representation in today’s cultural content. 

“VICE’s dedicated Insights team is able to offer partners unparalleled access to and expertise on youth and culture globally” said Amy Davies, VP of Strategy & Creative, Canada, VICE. “We leveraged a number of methodologies for this report to surface insights to help guide and inform the Canadian culture sector in their quest to capture Gen Z audiences. It has been a delight to partner with the Ontario Creates team.”

Key findings in the survey include: 

  • Music is by far the #1 form of cultural content consumed by Gen Z, with online videos, TV and video games rounding out their most frequent activities;
  • Seven out of ten respondents said they prefer physical books to e-books;
  • One in two favour printed magazines over digital ones;
  • 75%  of respondents say original content is important to them; 
  • Music, video streaming and video games (in all forms: console, PC and mobile) are the top paid services for Gen Z, with respondents paying for an average of four cultural content services;
  • The younger demographic are huge cord cutters: for Millennials, cable or satellite TV subscriptions are their #2 most popular paid services, while those didn’t even make the top 5 for Gen Z;
  • Gen Z is motivated by better quality (61%  said so), better experience (56%) and convenience (50% ) to pay for content, versus avoiding ads on free services (41%).
  • Gen Z is especially interested in internet culture/memes, humour and gaming.

“This Gen Z consumer research will be extremely valuable to Ontario’s content creators.”  said Karen Thorne-Stone, President & CEO of Ontario Creates. “Gen Z is the most diverse generation in Canadian history and they are changing the rules of engagement with creators. This research will help Ontario companies adapt their business models to connect more effectively with this big new market.”

The survey also finds Gen Z is:

  • More interested in being “entertained” by content than “being informed”;
  • Want ease of discovery, looking to social media channels like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok to find new content and to form relationships with the creators themselves.

The research was executed through VICE Insights, VICE’s arm dedicated to decoding youth behaviours and trends that are moving and shaping the culture that contextualizes youth lives. 

"With new voices and new platforms entering the media landscape by the minute, the competition for young people’s attention has never been greater” said Julie Arbit, Global SVP of Insights, VICE. “Combine that with a young generation that has never been hungrier for content or more savvy about how to access it, and you have a whole new approach to content consumption. Understanding this new mindset is essential for anyone who is trying to reach this young audience.” 


This project began by speaking with content creators across industries who identified the complex challenges and strategies for capturing Gen Z’s attention. Using these learnings, VICE Insights conducted an online survey among 650 VICE audience members in Ontario, Canada-500 people ages 14-22 (Gen Z) with an additional 150 people ages 23-39 (Millennials) for comparison. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.8%.


Ontario Creates (formerly OMDC) is a provincial agency that facilitates economic development, investment and collaboration in Ontario’s creative industries including the music, book, magazine, film, television and interactive digital media sectors. ontariocreates.ca


VICE Media Group is the world’s largest independent youth media company.  Launched in 1994, VICE has offices in 35 cities across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICELAND, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award-winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency with 21 offices around the world.  VICE's programming has been recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Peabodys, Sundance Film Festival, George Polk, Scripps Howard, PEN Center, Cannes Lions, Knight Foundation, American Society of Magazine Editors, LA Press Club, James Beard and Webbys, among others. VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women;  PULSE Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin;  i-D, a global digital and bimonthly magazine defining fashion and contemporary culture; and Garage, a digital platform and biannual publication converging the worlds of art and design.

For further information:

VICE |  Britt Aharoni, Manager, Communications, 647-716-5113, britt.aharoni@vice.com

Ontario Creates |  Bob Reid, Veritas Communications, 416-482-2308, reid@veritasinc.com