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Understanding Malaysia’s Gen Z… And How To Reach Them

3 minute read | May 2019

Malaysia’s true digital natives, Generation Z, is the generation that grew up with the internet for all of their lives. Generally referring to those born between 1995 and 2010, Gen Z makes up 26% of Malaysia’s population1 and has unique characteristics that set them apart from the Millenials and Baby Boomers, particularly in the way they consume content and relate to brands.

The oldest of the Gen Z demographic are now 24, and would have recently acquired spending power. Internet penetration among those aged 18-24 is high at 98%, while 99% own a smartphone. This is a generation that has a distinct ability to process and cut through large amounts of information, and seamlessly navigate between the online and offline worlds.

It is within this context that businesses need to understand the changing consumption behaviour of this hypercognitive, “always on” generation, in order to reach them efficiently and effectively.

Social media shaping news consumption

Ten years ago, when social media was in its relative infancy, more than half of Millennials (55%) – who were then 18-24 years old –  read the newspaper on a daily basis. Since then, mobile technology has advanced and internet penetration has soared. Yet, demand for news has not waned. Instead, Gen Z consumes news in a different way, with only a fraction of them reading the newspaper on a daily basis, the majority turning to social media for top breaking news.

As the platform for news consumption continues to evolve, it is more important than ever before for publishers to publish news content beyond news websites but also on social media, in order to reach and be at the top of Gen Z minds.


The proliferation of internet use has also sparked a growth in the e-commerce industry and Gen Zers are at the forefront of this change. Between 2016 and 2018, an increasing number of 18-24 year olds have turned to online shopping (+9%). One in five have shopped online in the past month, with the most popular items purchased being clothing & apparel (76%), digital electronics (29%) and cosmetics and fragrances (19%).

Just like the generations before them, Malaysian Gen Zs place importance on value for money. Before making a purchase online, 85% of online shoppers would compare prices at physical stores while 82% would take the shipping rate into consideration. Convenience also matters, with  four in five online shoppers considering delivery speed before purchasing an item online.

As such, to succeed in the e-commerce industry, online vendors would need to have a winning combination of both price and convenience in order to capture the Gen Z wallet.


The convenience offered by on-demand program viewing means that video on demand (VOD) services are fast becoming a part of Gen Zers’ lives, with 94% of them viewing/subscribing to streaming service providers such as Netflix, Iflix and Tonton in the past year. A shift towards the small screen can also be seen as among the 18-24 segment that watched TV program/movies online in the past month, about nine in 10 of them did it via their mobile phone.

Nonetheless, it’s not to say that the growth of convenience viewing has taken away the magic of the movie theater experience. Over the past decade, nearly two in five (17%) of Gen Z consumers are still visiting the cinema in the past month. As such, brands ought not to count cinema out when building their brand strategy. After all, while mobile phone streaming is convenient, cinema provides an immersive experience that online streaming can’t bring.

To learn more about the changing media consumption habits in Malaysia, check out our syndicated media studies.


1 Department of Statistics, Malaysia


The data published in this report were derived from:

  • Nielsen Consumer & Media View (CMV), January 2018 – December 2018
  • Base: All Malaysians aged 18 – 24 in Peninsular Malaysia

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