The time is not far when your major user base will be Gen-Z (people born around year 2000), and other population groups will become corner cases. There are already products in the market that are being built by keeping only the Gen-Z population in mind.
Some of my cousins and juniors fall in the same category, and I’m happy to share their thoughts and views about a lot of things in life, especially about the kind of digital products that they use and why.
Generation-Z are different than everyone else. Not because they are born in the age when tech had dominated the world, and doing tough things, like talking to someone residing outside your country, was easy. I still remember the time when my father had an overseas business and he used to visit Dubai so frequently for it. We would think a hundred times before making an audio call, because at that time a call would cost ₹18 for outgoing and ₹9 for incoming, for one minute (₹18 was around $0.4 back in the year 2004).
It was a big amount at that time, because a one minute call could also turn into a ten minute call, and ₹18 would turn into ₹180 sooner than we could imagine! And not to forget the charges he had to pay for listening to the call. Many times my mom had to go days without hearing his voice, and now my parents video-call me and my husband every other day, while we are living in Europe and they’re living in India.
Basically — technology changed the times really fast. Not even 20 years have passed since 2004, and we can see each other everyday on a screen, for free.
The kids born after 2000, have turned 20 now. Most of them own a digital device, may it be a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone. Together they form a big market and potential users for tech-companies and a lot of new ideas.
Tik-Tok, The Ultimate Gen-Z Product
May it be TikTok or Houseparty, the apps are basically built on the mindsets of young population. My parents are still struggling with Facebook and WhatsApp, how would they understand the Houseparty or TikTok anyway?
And I feel I am too old for TikTok (or maybe I just feel that because I never felt the need to install TikTok), so the biggest chunk of population that’s using TikTok, are the people who are either young (school/college kids), or those who have too much free time at hand, or those who just want to enjoy the view (people who don’t create content but are just watching the videos).
As you can see in the screenshot above, more than 80% users using TikTok are below the age of 35.
Recently I got a chance to talk to some of my young cousins, and their friends who are active users of TikTok, and I asked them some questions.
Before I come to my analysis, I really want to share the actual screenshots of a short survey I conducted in my Instagram stories, asking people some quick questions about TikTok.
Why Instagram Stories?
Well, because the aim of this short and fun survey was to reach out to more and more Gen-Z, and get answers from the real users of TikTok, asking them to fill-up boring Google forms wouldn’t do justice to it, right? So, Instagram stories come to picture, targeting generation-Z, exactly where they are found!
Before you accuse me, that Instagram polls can’t help you get actual results, here are the real numbers of the participants! 186 story-viewers (not bad), and 87 participants, out of which 19 said that they ‘use TikTok’ and 68 said they don’t have it on their phones.
Well, that means 19 participants is what I’d have to work with for the rest of the survey now.
While most of the users of TikTok are only there to ‘see’ the content and not create it. They enjoy the short and fun-videos, and they get quick entertainment, rather than investing themselves in a movie or a series for hours and days! TikTok provides short-video content, where people can do anything — basically anything. They can either lip-sync to a popular song, or dance to it, or act in front of it, or create a story by involving characters, or try to make it funny by doing something stupid.
All in all, TikTok has unleashed creativity of people to create a short video that can go viral on the internet.
This happens, because majority of TikTok users think that creating content on the platform is absolutely easy!
While majority of people said that they only ‘enjoy’ seeing videos on TikTok, the content creators said that they love creating content for various reasons — for fun, entertainment, and for husband (didn’t expect the last one though)…
While passing-time or entertainment is the most common answer to why people want to continue using TikTok, there are also some other answers that I received. Coronavirus lockdown bored people to an extent that many of them have downloaded TikTok only for entertainment purposes.
Some said that they feel more close/connected to home, when they see TikTok videos from their country.
So, TikTok not only heals boredom and helps people enjoy themselves, have some laugh and lighten up — but it also helps them feel closer to home.
This survey cannot be said to be equal to a proper user-research for many reasons, but this was more of a fun-project that I did for myself, just to understand the mindset of different people.
Who would have thought that TikTok might make someone feel closer to home? So, unless you talk to people, you’ll never get to understand different mindsets.
The final analysis, about Generation-Z mindset is not just an outcome of some answers from these stories, but also after a discussion with some of my cousins and young followers on Instagram, that helped me understand the following things —
FoMo and Community: Generation-Z want to be a part of their own social community, their group, circle of friends, their school and college profiles. They don’t want to miss out on cool content or a viral video about the coolest girl of college, that’s why they want to be a part of TikTok. Some participants said that cool girls of college post videos on TikTok that they can’t miss out on, so they’re there! They follow them to keep themselves updated with what everyone in their college is posting.
Less time investment: Users don’t really need to remember what they saw in the previous episode, or watch things in continuation to build a story. They can skip from one video to the other real-quick, and not miss out on anything! The time-investment is low, the attention-span requirement is low, TikTok doesn’t need it’s users to be attentive all the time, not even for five minutes! That’s what people want. That’s what Generation-Z want.
TikTok is easy and fun: There is no debate in the fact that a higher percentage of people use TikTok for entertainment purposes only. There are more content viewers than content creators, as per the 1% rule for internet culture that states that there are only 1% content creators as compared to 100% of the content consumers (same is the case with every product, may it be Quora or Medium or Reddit or even social media).
And as per almost all the users who actively create content on TikTok, on-boarding and creating content is fairly easy, which makes the platform even more popular and engaging. The moment you introduce something difficult, or something where users have to learn something new, you are automatically driving a lot of user-traffic away.
Online Recognition: While online recognition or fame is not something new, but every new platform has scope for those people who couldn’t get that recognition on other platforms! If you try to become famous on YouTube in 2020, it’s harder than being famous when it had just started. Because now, there are millions of channels and billions of videos on YouTube. People have access to every sort of content, so unless you create something absolutely kickass, there are low chances that you’d make it big!
Collecting subscribers on YouTube is harder than collecting likes and views on TikTok. Although there is no comparison between YouTube and TikTok or the user-bases of the two platforms, but there are people who would rather create content on TikTok than YouTube.
This is my analysis after conducting a survey and talking to some people about TikTok. These are some of the Gen-Z requirements for a digital product — so next time you’re designing something, you can keep these things in mind! 😅