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Most of Gen Z & Millennials’ Top 20 Hobbies Are Offline

What do young consumers actually want to be doing in their free time? Their favorite hobbies show their biggest passions…

A lot of attention is paid to how much time young consumers are spending on their screens—binge watching shows, scrolling through social media, posting videos online, etc. We devote a lot of ink to Gen Z and Millennials’ digital pastimes at YPulse as well, monitoring their social media use, media consumption, and online trends on the regular. After all, these are vital pieces of information for brands trying to reach them.

But focusing only on their online pursuits doesn’t paint a full picture of their lives, or their interests. To keep a balanced view of what it’s like to be young today, we also make sure to check in with these generations on the issues and pastimes that really matter to them—and what they really want to be doing in their free time. In our recent survey on their hobbies and passions, we asked 13-36-year-olds, “What is your biggest hobby?” Here are their top 20 responses:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of hobbies that young consumers are spending time on—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Are Their Biggest Hobbies?
      1. Music / Playing an instrument
      2. Sports
      3. Gaming
      4. Reading
      5. Cooking / Baking
      6. Fitness
      7. Art
      8. TV / Netflix
      9. Crafting
      10. Dance
      11. Writing
      12. Sewing / Knitting / Crochet
      13. Travel
      14. Running
      15. Outdoor activity
      16. Movies
      17. Walking / Hiking
      18. Photography
      19. Shopping
      20. Food

First, according to our qualitative responses, about 80% of Gen Z and Millennials have at least one hobby. The most popular? Music, or playing an instrument. With music a well-documented passion among young consumers, this is no surprise, and aligns with previous rankings we’ve published on this topic. In the same survey, 71% of 13-36-year-olds said they listen to music in their free time for pleasure, making it the top answer. Sports came in at number two on the list, including responses that mentioned both watching and playing them. Though creative pursuits fill the list, six of the top named hobbies are physical activities (sports, fitness, dance, running, outdoor activity, and walking/hiking), showing that young consumers aren’t spending all their time in front of screens. Instead, most of the hobbies that they report are offline.

Of course, not all of their declared hobbies are active, and older generations might question some of them—especially TV/Netflix, which comes in the top 10 on the ranking. We probably shouldn’t tell them that “watching videos on YouTube” was also named as a hobby by more than one respondent, as was “social media”. But don’t despair—most screen-based hobbies weren’t as popular as offline ones. In fact, reading was named as a top-five hobby among all age groups:

Reading is a top hobby for all groups here, becoming increasingly popular as they age up—and tying with cooking/baking among teens.

Of course, gaming also ranked as a top-five hobby among all age groups, underlining its importance to Gen Z and Millennials—a topic we explored in depth in our recent State of Gaming trend. Not only is gaming a massive, mainstream form of entertainment for these generations, it’s also acting as stress relief for many.


To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.