Created in 1997, Netflix is a born and true Gen Zer. I know, right?
Like Gen Z, it inherited a barely alive digital world. The streaming giant started with an outdated DVD delivery system that was later innovated into a digital solution, birthing the streaming service we know today. It went through the growing pains of what to make of its character, depending on the popularity of other shows to bring into its platform (miss you, Friends). Ultimately, Netflix found its footing by creating original content. This move would eventually launch them into many award categories and become a staple in households all over thanks to gems such as Stranger Things and Squid Games. Not to mention, it gave life to the “Netflix & Chill” effect. Like Gen Z, Netflix created something so revolutionary others started
copying it being inspired by it.
Yet, it seems that, unlike Gen Zers, even though Netflix found ways to thrive during the pandemic with 16 million new sign-ups, it could not keep up with the Gen Z demand for creative success, and Gen Zers, as well as the rest of the stock market, were not shy to hide their disappointment.
The most popular streaming service in the world gave a surprising big flop in its first quarter when for the first time it lost an enormous amount of subscribers in over ten years. The loss was a mix result of Netflix’s struggle with keeping content from media companies, competing with other streaming services; and its questionable ability to create good shows and movies without canceling them early on, something Netflix tends to do and continues to receive a lot of backlash for. Going against the predicted success of what 2022 would bring in store for Netflix, the platform followed a similar pattern for its second quarter when it lost almost another million subscribers (more than twice the market share lost in its first).
You might be wondering, why compare a streaming giant to such a young generation in the first place?
For starters, Gen Z is the first “creator” generation of the digital economy; the Harris Poll found more than half identified themselves as creators. Gen Zers are digital natives often inspired to go beyond the boundaries of what technology limits them to. They cannot only make something famous or viral–looking at you, TikTok–but they can also find creativity in the past. That’s because Gen Z and the other generations jumping to live more on the digital side of the world believe there is always a better path forward.
And just like them, we at Digital Surgeons also think there is a better and more creative path forward. As super fans and users of Netflix ourselves, we couldn’t help but tap our team of Gen Z design thinkers and throw our hat in the ring to help propose ten tactics we think could drive tangible returns for Netflix–keeping it young, fresh, and creative.
CREATE A LOYAL AND TRUE INSIDER
There is nothing more that digital natives like Gen Z love than having first-hand access to information and content. People are willing to pay to know first, and more than others. Netflix has the opportunity to open the curtains to the back of the show and bring the viewer in closer than any other service in history has done.
10. Evolve Netflix’s New “Fast Laughs” Feature
Turn the new TikTok-like “Fast Laughs” feature into a curated set of behind-the-scenes/user-generated content for specific shows that viewers can pick. This feature can work off the user’s viewing history and even promote viewing of other shows with over a 95% fit. Since this version is available only on mobile, the platform can even include ads between swipes; this keeps viewers more engaged with the show beyond its episodes, and lets Netflix identify their interests.
9. Rethink the Content Page of Shows and Movies
Ending a season of anything worth it’s weight in cinematic gold can be emotionally chaotic for fans ; it leaves the viewers wanting more–something to grasp while they wait another year for a new season to drop. We discovered NetflixAwards.com and were mind-blown that this was not made mainstream or even accessible from the app itself!
We want more of that from Netflix; expand it into the content page of their show or film. Provide BTS content on the show’s page between season viewership to drive engagement and retention while they film new seasons. Imagine the value Netflix could add by giving viewers a sneak peek into their favorite actors getting their makeup and costumes put on–we are looking at you Vecna–or watch table reading reactions that will keep the viewers hooked. And, as we wait for new seasons to upload, post BTS content of everyone getting ready to film the new season. Netflix could become the platform where viewers can go to start piecing together easter eggs while they wait for the latest season to drop– how’s that for driving demand?
EXPAND THE NETFLIX COMMUNITY
According to research from Impero, 65% of Gen Z consumers feel more confident online when they use community-focused services like Twitch or Discord.
8. Bring Twitch Into the Mix
A Statista study found that 78% of Gen Zers subscribed to the service with 44% of them streaming more than three hours per day. Those same Gen Zers also split their streaming time using Twitch. The Amazon-owned platform has gathered an impressive audience over the years mainly in the Gen Z and Millennial age group with more than half of its users being between the 18 to 34 age group. Partnering with Twitch to do community based premiers/viewings for new content, be it recent seasons, new shows, or movies that are about to be released would provide Netflix with even more market-share time. Make this content exclusive for these channels by dropping it 24 to 48 hours before it hits Netflix; that way, it generates talk as others wait for it to drop on the app–Netflix can also monetize this content through Twitch. Netflix can’t sell tickets to a premier already happening on Netflix but it could sell tickets for early exclusive access that it could sell outside of its platform. And suppose Netflix is opposed to the premier tickets angle. In that case, it could raffle Twitch invites, empowering true fans of their shows and movies to reenact some of the fan-favorite scenes to repost on social media and tag creators as well as actors. The community can then pick the winners to watch the brand new content before anyone else. Hence generating further engagement for its new content.
7. The Netflix Film Festival
Netflix should host a film festival to drive content creators into the ecosystem and even use it as a way to monetize strategy. Not only helping themselves, but also the communities where they host their festival. Film festivals create jobs and are beneficial to the hospitality sector. It creates exposure for everyone involved, and becomes a testing ground for new movies, creators, and students alike. Cannes film festival gets over 80,000 festival goers, more than 4000 journalists with over 89 countries represented, a community ripe for harvesting positive returns. Here are a few way they could do this:
- Invite celebrities NOT on Netflix to drive traffic beyond their platform
- Stream the Film Festival’s red carpet and other special content
- Create an awards reception at the end of the festival, where not only do they judge Netflix content but also content from other streaming services
- Invite indie filmmakers to show their content in the festival for a chance to be shown on Netflix
- Partner with Masterclass teaching about filmmaking followed by feature panel discussions
6. Let Someone Else Direct
Netflix should leverage TikTok in a smarter way, it’s the home of the trends and challenges, yet we barely see the streaming giant truly capitalize on that. Leverage show-based challenges to create UGC where people put themselves in scenes or recut stuff for fun. Where the viewer gets to become the “director” and can pick what would fit best, Then while they are at it, maybe make it a contest to meet the actual directors/actors of the show.
FRESHEN UP (GEN Z CLEAN GIRL AESTHETIC)
5. Small UX Wins to Make the Experience Even More User Friendly
This one is so simple that we are honestly surprised Netflix has not fixed it yet because we know that when it comes to UX, every interaction counts for building a gratuitous experience that keeps users engaged and in the app longer. For example, getting to the edge of the screen faster without having to scroll through all the shows that one just went through would be a great place to start. While we’re at it, we’d also recommend evolving how we can access our watchlist; it should be a fixed element on the side menu, because, just like the above, the endless scrolling makes it difficult to go back to it.
BRING BACK OLD-SCHOOL TRENDS
If Gen Z can bring those 2000s, 90s, and even 80s trends back–I really hope low-waisted jeans don’t fully return–then so can Netflix. Capitalize on that Nostalgia.
4. Themed Nights
I remember loving summer movie nights as a kid. Disney channel would put on a movie during the summer that would start around 7 or 8 pm. I remember all of us rushing back to make sure we had popcorn ready, comfy clothes were changed into, and we would all tune in to watch Smart House or Camp Rock. Netflix could take inspiration from this and put on themed movie nights. It can be coordinated across ALL of Netflix so viewers can talk/tweet/post about it. They can even Incorporate a commercial-like break while we are at it, a 5-minute break for grabbing snacks or ordering some of that great UberEats food. This can also be a time to invite the actors of the movies to do a mini break livestream where they share BTS insights and generate some hype.
3. Get Rid of Choice Paralysis
I have watched some of my favorite movies for the first time, not because I intentionally chose to, but because they happened to be playing. No way would I have sat and picked an over two-hour movie such as Forrest Gump if it had not been playing on the channel right after a show I watched. Yet I have since rewatched it over twenty times. A lot of us here at Digital Surgeons have a similar experience. Netflix already has category pages for shows and movies, where one scrolls endlessly, while trying to pick something before they go back to their comfort show. Choice paralysis is nothing new to streaming customers, who are often presented with too many choices to reach a decision. Users take an average of 7 minutes to decide what to watch yet studies show that 21% will give up watching if they are unable to make a choice. As a way to battle this we suggest Netflix should already have a movie playing in the category pages. The user can choose to continue watching or pick something else. That way, as we scroll through the options, we can see what’s playing and hear it in the background as we look for what to watch. This strategy creates a healthy rotation of films that don’t get much exposure, revive some that did, and expose new age groups of Netflix to cult classics from generations before.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
2. Watch Mode vs. Listening Mode
We loved seeing Netflix partner with Spotify for some Upside Down Playlist creations. We even saw how Spotify leveraged Netflix’s popularity and launched its own Netflix Hub in the app. A centralized place for finding the official soundtracks, playlist and podcasts for some of Netflix’s top shows and movies. Being the content creator that Netflix is, they could do much more than a hub partnership. We recommend Netflix to take some of that market-share and in-app time from Spotify and create their own music hub on the app that capitalizes on movie scores, playlists and even show podcasts. Where one can tap on a custom playlist for the characters, listen to a themed playlist for a specific show/movie, or listen to the season’s playlist on repeat while they wait for new seasons to drop, allowing the user to switch from a watch mode to a listening mode.
1. Edible Cinema
This is our favorite idea yet. Paid show sponsorships are so over and boring. Yes, we see the Coca-Cola on screen or that bag of Doritos that the character can’t seem to drop. But our attention span of the product ends the minute it’s out of the frame. Some things that don’t lose our attention, whatever food is being eaten, especially if it’s pizza. If the character got a burrito and it looks like the ones we get from Chipotle. Yes, that’s the good stuff. It keeps us thinking about it long enough that some of us may even Grubhub it.
That’s why we’d suggest a small QR code to appear at the bottom of the screen whenever there is a sponsorship of a product, where the viewer can scan it and activate a discount code they can use on a delivery service app. If it is Doritos, get a coupon code to use on GoPuff to get some Doritos to your door in 30 minutes. If the people on the show are eating pizza, another little QR code pops up and it sends you to UberEats partnered Pizza business offering a discount for it. Eat what you are watching and in the meantime get as close to enjoying the show as if you were really there. And if we may go a little further, in the states where cannabis is legalized for delivery. Get some goods delivered your way with Weedmaps when the characters start partaking dare we say… greener, recreational activities. That would really take Netflix and Chill to brand new heights.
Although this is only a small handful of thought starters that came to mind with limited access to any real data sets, we feel pretty confident that these ideas could certainly help drive ALL THE METRICS or prove interesting experiments to help make Netflix the leader of creativeness again. (Bringing it back to its Gen Z roots.) What do you think? Like our thinking? Know someone at Netflix we could go pitch this to? Either way, if you’re interested in hearing more about how our team solves hard ass problems through a Gen Z lens or need help solving yours, hit us up. We’d love to chat.