Polygon and Vox Media today released a new survey on the rise of anime culture in the U.S. and the genre’s popularity with young consumers. To help brands and marketers understand anime’s cultural resonance with Gen Z and Millennial audiences, Polygon and Vox Media conducted a representative survey exploring how fans are discovering and engaging with anime, how it’s driving lifestyle choices as a commerce platform, and how it could serve as the next IP well for Hollywood.
Surveying over 4,000 U.S. adults in October 2023, Vox Media’s Insights & Innovation team partnered with The Circus, an insight and data storytelling consultancy, to find out how anime stacks up against other popular genres, how and where anime fans are engaging with the genre, and what additional expansions consumers are most excited about.
“For our young audience of entertainment enthusiasts, anime has been a fundamental part of their media diet,” says Polygon editor-in-chief Christopher Plante. “But we found explaining the colossal scale of anime to curious newcomers to be a challenge due to a near total lack of data in the US market. This survey proves something our readers have told us for years: anime is the future.”
Highlights from the study include:
- Gen Z is consuming more anime on a weekly basis than the NFL: With only one in six (17%) of American adults watching anime weekly, the genre can be easy to overlook and dismiss. However, anime’s American audience is highly bifurcated – when looking at consumption among younger audiences, 42% of Gen Z respondents reported watching anime weekly, while only 25% say they watch the NFL. 56% of Gen Z respondents and 41% of Millennial respondents say they watch anime at least once a month.
- The young U.S. anime audience is 2x more diverse than the U.S. population as a whole: While Black Americans make up 14% and Asian Americans make up 7% generally, within the Gen Z anime-watching audience, Black Americans make up 23% and Asian Americans are 13%.
- Anime has become Gen Z’s entertainment escape, serving as a form of comfort media: Over 3 in 4 Gen Z & Millennial anime viewers use anime as an escape when overwhelmed, angry or sad. Meanwhile, roughly half of Gen Z (46%) and Millennials (56%) have watched anime to “pump themselves up” before important events and 3 in 4 Gen Z and Millennial anime watchers have watched anime to cheer them up when they’re feeling down.
- Anime is quickly becoming the new Friends or Seinfeld for younger audiences: More than half (55 percent) of anime fans have returned to a show they’ve already seen in the last 12 months. They are also watching either new or missed episodes of series they’re familiar with.
- Collaborations on physical goods offer nearly an unlimited approach: Beyond the expected media crossovers, anime consumers celebrate their fandom with apparel, food, home decor, jewelry and more. Over 50% of respondents make at least one purchase a year in each of these categories.
“Anime is less a genre than it is a platform for genres,” says Vox Media’s SVP for Insights & Research Edwin Wong. “Anime’s success is in part due to its inability to be boxed into being about any one thing, and its ability to capitalize on the flexibility of the format with emotionally complex stories that allow it to subvert genres in ways that are unavailable in traditional forms of media across content, connection, and commerce.”
Polygon is Vox Media’s next-generation entertainment network, illuminating the entertainment world through the lens of those who grew up playing video games, reading comics, and obsessed with internet culture. As a leading industry voice, Polygon is a top source for smart, critical, and entertaining content surrounding cultural moments borne of gaming and the future of entertainment. Polygon truly understands these next-generation communities because they are the fans, and are embedded in YouTube, Twitch, and your favorite gaming communities.
About Vox Media
Vox Media is the leading modern media company, reaching audiences everywhere they are. Known for editorial properties including Vox, SB Nation, New York Magazine, The Dodo, and The Verge, the company’s portfolio features the most relevant, respected, and engaging editorial properties and voices. The company is also home to award-winning storytelling businesses such as Vox Media Studios and the Vox Media Podcast Network, as well as innovative technologies that support the entire media industry, including the Concert advertising marketplace. Vox Media proves that quality can scale.