Knowledge Main Headline

Study delves into social media use of ‘Generation Z’ travellers

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese
Research involving IFTM Assistant Professor Dr. Frances Kong Weng Hang suggests ‘community’ values and ‘materialistic’ values strongly influence why ‘Generation Z’ individuals use social media when travelling

A recent study in Macao involving a scholar from IFTM saw researchers examine ‘Generation Z’ individuals, their personal values, and their use of social media during travel. ‘Community’ values and ‘materialistic’ values emerged as significant influences on the study participants’ social media usage when travelling. In contrast, ‘family’ values did not have a notable impact on their social media activity.

The work was conducted by IFTM Assistant Professor Dr. Frances Kong Weng Hang, in partnership with Dr. Donald Chang Tung-Zong and Dr. Angelica Bahl, both from the Department of Marketing at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, in Colorado, in the United States.

The research produced the academic paper “Personal values and travel social media use among Generation Z”. It was published last year in the scholarly journal Consumer Behavior in Tourism and Hospitality. (Click here for access to full paper.)

The study’s main aim was to explore how social media behaviour of Generation Z individuals, particularly during travel, was influenced by their personal values. Generation Z is a reference to people born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s.

“The importance of Generation Z cannot be ignored as about half of the world’s population is under 30 years of age,” the researchers wrote. It was expected this cohort would be “different” relative to other generations, “as they have grown up with a very different set of realities, e.g. the [2008] Great Recession, the [COVID-19] pandemic, climate changes, in addition to mobile technologies”.

The research findings were based on a survey involving responses from 177 students at a public higher education institution in Macao. The participants – defined as Chinese Generation Z – were asked about social media use when they travel. 

The researchers examined 2 distinct patterns of social media use: ‘connecting’ with others to maintain and nurture relationships, and ‘updating’ to allow others to keep track of what the user is doing or has been doing.

The study found that social media users who expressed a greater inclination towards materialistic values, i.e., those associated with fulfilling self-enhancement needs, exhibited a propensity for an ‘updating’ pattern in their use of social media during travel. Respondents reporting a stronger sense of community values – i.e., related to developing and maintaining ties with peers by sharing ideas and making contributions to community well-being – were more inclined when travelling to use social media for ‘connecting’ purposes.

According to the researchers, the study findings hold practical implications for travel destinations and related service providers looking to tailor their social media marketing strategies. Gaining understanding of the values that resonate with Generation Z travellers can enable tourist destinations to be more targeted and effective in their promotional efforts, the research team suggested.

Generation Z individuals have grown up surrounded by mobile devices and social media, the researchers said. Therefore, it is vital for destination marketers to align their approach to the personal values of the people in that cohort in order for campaigns to be successful, said the research team.