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Over Half of Young Europeans Are Often Researching to Learn Something New – Here’s How

Young Europeans have redefined education. Here are four stats that show how they prefer to learn today…


We’ve long told you that Gen Z and Millennials are natural-born researchers, and YPulse’s recent WE Self-Taught trend report dove deep into how young Europeans’ early access to digital resources has made exploring, analyzing, and fact-finding an element of their everyday online lives. In fact, more than half of 13-39-year-olds now say they’re often doing research to learn about something new, and the vast majority enjoy learning. But more than that, education is no longer relegated to the confines of the classroom, and Gen Z and Millennials have redefined where they can learn—and from whom. Here are four stats that show how young Europeans prefer to learn today:

Nearly three-quarters of 13-39-year-olds are turning to social media to learn something new.

Social media has been more than a place to connect and share with friends for a long time now, becoming one of the top ways young consumers are entertaining themselves, discovering new music, and even shopping. But now, it’s also one of the main ways they’re educating themselves. When we asked 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe, “If you wanted to learn something new, what resources would you use?” 73% said social media, YouTube, or online influencers. While that came second to the internet / online resources, when broken down into individual resources, YouTube edged out Google for the top platform they’re turning to in order to learn something new. YouTube has been populated with DIY videos for years now, and young consumers have grown up using the platform to learn everything from makeup skills to home renovation projects. But the pandemic solidified YouTube’s place as a top resource for education. YouTube’s Trend Council identified a 600% increase in daily views of #WithMe videos in March 2020 as young users quarantined at home sought connection and new ways to pass the time. The platform’s #WithMe campaign tapped this trend, highlighting creators posting videos teaching viewers how to homeschool, give an at-home haircut, make homemade hand sanitizer, sew masks, and more. And certainly part of the reason young Europeans are flocking to YouTube is that…

Video is by far their preferred method of learning.

Less than two in ten 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe say they prefer learning via text instead of video, making it clear that video-based learning is the way of the future, especially for Gen Z. The true YouTube generation, 84% of Gen Z say they prefer video learning over text compared to 79% of Millennials. Though it’s likely been young consumers’ preferred method of learning for some time now, the pandemic made video-based learning a necessity, pushing it into the mainstream even within the formal (albeit virtual) classroom. While the majority of young consumers in each of the five Western European countries surveyed all say they prefer video, their enthusiasm is not matched across borders. Young Britons are the least enthusiastic about video learning, with 76% saying they prefer it over text. Meanwhile, young people in Germany and Spain prefer it the most, with 84% in each country choosing video over text.

The majority have taken a course outside of school to learn something new.

Though they prefer learning through social media and YouTube—places known for mindless scrolling—their learning is anything but passive. A full 72% say they’ve taken a course outside of school to learn something new on their own, and even more among Millennials. Again, the pandemic certainly pushed this trend along—global online learning platform Udemy saw major surges in enrollment throughout the pandemic, increasing 320% in Italy and 280% in Spain, as quarantined young Europeans sought entertainment by learning new skills. But Gen Z and Millennials’ interest in learning isn’t all about the convenience of online learning. Though 42% of those who say they’ve taken a course outside of school did so online, 30% attended a course in person. What’s more, half paid for their course, highlighting the growing potential of the online education industry.

They’re learning about brands, too.

As instinctual researchers, young Europeans aren’t just seeking out new skills and DIY tutorials; they want to know about brands, too—and they’re already doing their research. Eighty-six percent of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe say they’ve done research on a brand they’ve purchased from, and the majority are doing this research before they purchase a product, highlighting how important it is for brands to keep young consumers informed about everything from product how-tos to environmental impact to social causes they support. While Google is by far the top place they’re turning to look for brand information, Gen Z and Millennials are also checking out brands’ websites, making a brand’s online home an important informational hub to give young consumers the information they’re seeking. What’s more, the vast majority of young consumers trust brands to teach them about a number of topics, presenting a huge opportunity for brands to reach young Europeans through their hunger for knowledge.


YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Self-Taught trend report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.