For many, Google has long been considered the go-to for all things search.
But about 40% of Gen Zers prefer to discover information — such as how to plan a vacation, decide what skincare products work best, or pick a restaurant for a meal — on other platforms.
That’s according to data shared by Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, who at a Fortune Magazine event last week cited the company’s internal research that found nearly half of young people use TikTok or Instagram instead of Google Maps or Google Search. The ages of those surveyed range from 18 to 24, according to TechCrunch.
So what’s prompted the shift in search habits? When asked why they don’t use Google as much, the Gen Zers interviewed by NBC News had a simple answer: They prefer visual platforms.
“It’s one thing to read about what to do in this area or how this product works, but it’s another thing to see it,” Anne-Christine Fignole, 21, said. The Florida resident said she no longer uses Google for search.
Improvements to TikTok’s search tools — such as a predictive text feature that suggests common searches as a user is typing — have also limited the need for many to go off-platform.
“Me and my friends, all of us are around the same age group … we’re visual learners and with TikTok, it’s quick and easy to see a video on something I want to know more about,” Talia Magee, 24, said.
As Chelsea, a Las Vegas-based content creator, put it: “TikTok is my Google.”
“It’s how I search for product recommendations, how to do things, where to go, even apartment tours!” she wrote on Twitter. “TikTok is slowly changing into Google especially with their update that is coming soon.”
A spokesperson for Google directed NBC News to its blog post titled, “Our approach to competition in the US”
“We face robust competition from an array of sources, including general and specialized search engines, as well as dedicated apps,” the post reads.
“Our goal with Search is to provide people with the most relevant and useful information available,” according to the post. “People have more ways to search for information than ever before—and increasingly this is happening outside the context of only a search engine.”
According to Raghavan, Google is testing some newer features. The company recently announced more immersive types of maps.
“We all keep learning, over and over again, is that new internet users don’t have the expectations and the mindset that we have become accustomed to,” he said at the Fortune event last week.
“Younger people don’t come with preset expectations,” Raghavan said, adding that “the queries they ask are completely different.”
“The journey begins in different forms than before, in visually rich forms,” he said.
If Google doesn’t evolve, some believe TikTok will ultimately surpass it as the top search tool.
“Amongst my generation, I don’t want to say Google is fully dying out… maybe use it for, like, a school project or something,” Magee said. But “people don’t have time to sit down and watch the news or look at a newsfeed. TikTok is the fastest way to get information.”
“Google gave rise to institutions,” one Twitter user wrote. “TikTok gave rise to individuals. People want to hear from people — and there’s no place better for that than on TikTok.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism