Consumers Are Watching More Short-Form, Fun Content According to New Research

Watching feel-good videos online is part of more than one in three Americans’ daily routine.

In a survey of more than 2,000 men and women ages 16-55 and over in the United States, new findings illustrate that Americans are preferring positive content. This research was conducted by TheSoul Publishing, an independent digital studio, to better understand how the pandemic has impacted the digital viewing preferences and habits of Americans.

Younger audiences have notoriously been drawn to short-form online videos, made famous by platforms like TikTok, a reiteration of the Vine videos that were wildly popular in 2014, but this new survey points out that the pandemic is pushing a wider swath of consumers to these quick bite-sized entertainment segments. A sizeable 84% of respondents said they spent more or the same amount of time watching these short-form style videos now, during the pandemic, than they did before. These quick videos serve as a distraction, participants said, helping them cope with the difficulties of living life during a pandemic.

  • 30% of Americans watch positive short-form videos to improve their mood
  • 26% of Americans watch to gain product ideas and inspiration
  • 19% of Americans watch to escape current news reports

Regardless of their reason for turning to quick, positive videos, 78% of participants believe feel-good digital content will become even more important and popular in the future.

“It’s interesting to see that it’s not just any short-form video that’s resonating with the American audience right now,” says Victor Potrel, Vice President of Platform Partnerships at TheSoul Publishing. “It’s really positive content that has taken the spotlight, becoming the popular form of escapism and a welcome source of entertainment. For content creators and brands looking to get in front of shoppers […] there’s a lot that can be learned about what is more likely to resonate and break through.”

The Takeaway

Short-form content with positive vibes or feel-good entertainment value is the next open marketplace in which the most important currency is attention. How can companies meet this new trend now? Creating brief, aesthetically pleasing product how-to’s or placing an emphasis on lighthearted content that is short and sweet will allow brands to meet consumers where they are, instead of chasing them down with marketing tactics that show their age. Brands that do this well will be met with a truly massive audience willing to give marketers a sizeable portion of their day.

  • Two-thirds of consumers (69%) spend 30 minutes to three hours watching short-form digital content daily
  • 32% of Gen Z viewers watch 2+ hours, of which 62% is comedy-related

For these views, mobile is king (56% of Americans say they plan to watch short-form content on their phones in 2021), but computers (18%) and tablets (11%) are still notable players. Regardless of device, share-ability is key, and consumers were very clear about what made content worthy of their contact list.

  • 38% shared videos they found interesting
  • 21% shared content because it was funny
  • 18% shared content they felt was relatable
  • 12% shared videos that were helpful to them

Americans are showing marketers with their clicks and viewing algorithms where they want to spend their time. Companies seeking to stay competitive with not only the up-and-coming generations of spenders, but with consumers of every age, would be wise to take note. The pandemic has transformed the viewing and digital recreation habits of Americans and is changing the boundaries for duration and entertainment value that consumers will expect from here forward.

Consumers want happiness, and in a pandemic, they’re finding it on screens. With many hobbies on hold, 86% of Americans use short-form content for crafting or DIY inspiration, and cooking and baking ranked among the top categories of content.

While the pandemic has created a surge in viewing habits, U.S. consumers do not expect to turn their attention away any time soon. More than three-fourths of Americans asked (83%) said they will continue to watch at least as much if not more short-form content in the new year. As consumers seek to boost their moods through feel-good videos, brands willing to invest in content that is short but sweet have an opportunity to build an escape for their customers—one that might lead them straight to filling their carts.