Talking To Generations

BDRC recently partnered with the School of Management and Communication at the Republic Polytechnic in Singapore to undertake extensive research to assess the media habits and preferences of Gen Z and Y consumers. From November 2018 to January 2019, we undertook five focus groups (with a diary survey) and 346 quantitative surveys to assess viewing habits, devices used, the role of TV today, genre preferences, attitudes to advertising, and video gaming behaviour. We report some of the key findings in our series Talking to Generations.


Generally, the main motives for consuming media are for entertainment, to fill time, as a form of relaxation, for general interest, and sometimes to aid education and studies.

Media consumption is increasing because of easy access via mobile devices, but also due to the increase in the variety and quality of productions from streaming services (as shown by the popularity of Netflix).

Some express concerns over the impact that media consumption is having on personal relationships and personal development. TV series in particular can result in media addiction and binge viewing, though some would argue that social media and constant access to news are equally damaging addictions.

But media can also spawn interest in other activities. Our research showed that TV documentaries can develop interest in hobbies such as photography or even media production itself.

Media forms part of our environment, and it is not all-consuming. It often complements other activities – based on BVA BDRC’s survey, 48% of media viewing occasions occur when we eat. We also see media as the background to housework, cooking, and even time spent in the bathroom.

Media also provides company while we travel. In fact, we’ve found that media habits change on leisure trips, with more demand for content such as music TV – again, forming a type of ‘background noise’ to our other activities. 

In fact, the results of our survey suggest that many media channels are missing opportunities in the travel market. Often, particular channels that consumers expect to find in hotel rooms are, in fact, missing. In the age of new media, TV has held its own. Our research suggests that 95% of households in Singapore have a TV, despite the fact that 99% own mobiles, 90% own PCs, and 60% own tablets that can all access media.

Despite this, the traditional role of TV is dying. Yes, around 80% of the people surveyed stated that they still watch TV with family and friends, but this activity is declining. A net 33% of consumers state that watching TV with friends and family has declined in the last two years, while watching media on other devices with others has held steady.

We have also seen a decline in the viewership of linear TV. Today, among households that have a TV, 24% of young adults surveyed said they do not watch any linear TV. This is higher among males and Generation Z (those under 22 years old).

But the TV is still a useful device, providing consumers with the viewing and audio pleasures of a bigger screen and home sound systems. We found that as many people use the TV to view content from their mobiles as a replacement for linear TV. People are also streaming directly to their smart TVs from subscription services. Similarly, around half of households have gaming consoles; this is despite the popularity of mobile gaming – again, it is about enhancing the gaming experience.

So, despite the influx of new media, the TV as an electronic device will remain on consumers’ shopping lists.

Looking ahead, some of those surveyed found that high-tech platforms like holograms have appeal. 3D TV, however, seems to have fallen out of favour, perhaps because it is simply much easier to use a mobile.

By Piers Lee, Managing Director of BVA BDRC Asia