Why Gen Z pay for news

To understand how Gen Z consume news, we interviewed 3 Gen Z News Lovers. (Yes, they exist as we discovered in part one!). In this part, we explore Gen Z’s attitudes towards paying for news and what this means for publishers. You can see the full video of our interviews below.

A quality information service

Gen Z have been brought up at a time when they are used to paying for services like Spotify and Netflix. For our Gen Z News Lovers, paying for news is no different. What is one thing these all have in common? Being able to provide a quality service.

I subscribe to The Economist because I love the quality of their information.

Clara Levi

By paying for a service, Gen Z expect to receive unrivalled expertise and information. This quality should be in all areas of the news, not just Gen Z’s interest areas. Being well informed in all areas is something that made Gen Z interviewees feel prepared for the day and able to have meaningful discussions with others. In Germany, 77% of 14-17 year olds highlighted the news as being important to have informed conversations with friends.

Importantly, Gen Z want to be able to trust this news that they read and feel informed about world events after consuming it.  A thirst for news is healthy for Gen Z. Thankfully providing high quality news is at the heart of publishers’ missions.

It’s important to be knowledgeable about the things you don’t necessarily like.

Dina Aassoum

Wide-ranging and specialist views

Inside the quality information a Gen Zer consumes, the authenticity of journalists remains a priority. Gen Z want to receive different perspectives on the news so that they are challenged intellectually and don’t find themselves inside a bubble. This comes through reading different titles, and also individual journalists at publishers as Gen Z feel they are just as able to provide these opinions.

Beyond the everyday news, niche news is fast becoming an area many people are turning to. We found that Gen Z are willing to pay for this. They like the idea of becoming experts in certain interest areas. Of our Gen Z News Lovers, Pierre paid for his film magazine subscriptions to receive quality information from experts. This was an important factor in differentiating his everyday news consumption from his love for film.

Provide Gen Z with quality and reliable information and if they deem it worthy, they will be willing to pay.

Something that made me paid for a news source is different opinions. It is good to read something that I don’t agree with but that is backed up with enough information to prove that it makes sense so that I can get a bigger and better perspective.

Pierre Valdivieso

A great newsreading experience

It is not just quality service and information that Gen Z will pay for, but also quality experiences. A quality user experience is vital for all publishers in the fight for subscriber revenue. Gen Z are digital natives. To attract them and win their attention from social media and other outlets, experiences have to be very well crafted. Newsreading experiences should provide Gen Z with the news that they want as easily as possible and as quickly as possible.

Sometimes when you go into a news application there’s a lot happening which can be a little bit overwhelming, so you don’t know which topic to tackle first.

Dina Aassoum

One thing that was important for Clara in a paid-for product was not having to scroll through a news app to find the news she was interested in. This product turn off was something she suggested could be easily fixed by having customised services which pop-up on her phone screen – essentially a form of personalised push notifications. This personal service removes the feeling of doomscrolling.

This news convenience through paid finite formats was echoed by Dina. She suggested publishers could solve this and get Gen Z to pay through newsletters tailored for Gen Z audience. These solutions would both give Gen Z the time to fit their news consumption into their busy lives and are certainly experiences Gen Z would pay for.

If you could do a newsletter tailored to the topics Gen Z are most interested in which is innovative and specific enough then that could be interesting.

Dina Aassoum

Gen Z are Generation Subscription

Gen Z are generation subscription. Growing up in a world of Netflix and Spotify, subscriptions are second nature for Gen Z. The WEF report “Understanding Value in Media” even found that those between 16-34 (albeit not explicitly Gen Z) are most likely to pay for content. Subscriptions are the frictionless model which helps Gen Z to avoid payment obstacles so that they can enjoy their experiences. Their consistent monthly price is something Gen Z can plan into their budget. So why go through the hassle of repeat manual payments when you can take out a subscription?

I have too many subscriptions.

Pierre Valdivieso

A hassle-free experience is great and feels like the correct payment option to attract Gen Z. But, it is important to remind Gen Z that they hold subscriptions with you. It is easy to get lost in a subscription world as Pierre mentioned. Therefore, rewarding loyalty or monitoring usage can help Gen Z to build respect with a brand.

Are there limits to the willingness to pay?

Gen Z like any generations in their younger years have some limits on their willingness to pay. Pricing is of course a key issue for Gen Z as they tend to lack the disposable income of older generations. Monthly budgets can often be tight so multiple subscriptions can prove difficult. So, publishers face the challenge of becoming a must-have subscription and the go-to information partner for Gen Z along with Netflix and Spotify. Some publishers do try this through offering student rates, having more than one of these can often be a challenge so those who do choose to subscribe have a choice to make.

Since I’m still a student I depend on my parents.

Clara Levi

Clara has a subscription for The Economist as it was recommended to her by professors. For other newspapers, she uses her parent’s subscriptions.

News subscriptions for Gen Z can also be for short term benefit. Dina had a 2-month subscription to the Washington Post so that she could access specific articles for her studies. In the world of academia where students are looking for the best possible resources, could publishers leverage these short term subscribers with other content which may eventually lead further down the subscription funnel?

Audio is seen as one of the most important formats for publishers going forwards, but Dina warned that this may not be a format Gen Z are willing to pay for. Gen Z already pay for audio providers like Spotify so would not be willing to pay to hear from specific podcasts, particularly on a Gen Z budget. With the huge selection of podcasts available on any given topic, it is also easy for Gen Z to move themselves across to a different, free competitor.

What does this mean for publishers?

  • Provide quality content: In exchange for payments, Gen Z want quality information which can help them feel well informed for the day ahead.
  • Dare to challenge assumptions: Gen Z want to be intellectually challenged through content and given new viewpoints. Don’t be afraid to go niche and into detail.
  • Make news easily accessible: Gen Z don’t have a lot of time on their hands so make your news fit into their lives as easily as possible. Don’t underestimate the role personalisation can play here.
  • Price carefully: Dare to build a close relationship with Gen Z. They are willing to pay through subscriptions for the right price. Make your content financially accessible. This way, they are in the funnel and can be converted when the time is right. Think of their lifetime value.
Matthew Lynes
Media Innovation Analyst @ Twipe

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