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Age is Just a Number: Media Usage

We all know the stereotype: millennials, bound to their phones, scrolling their Instagram feeds, snapping their friends and/or tweeting incessantly.

But a recent Nielsen report shows that Americans from 18 to 34 are less obsessed with social media than some of their older peers are. Surprising? Kinda. But, it’s an opportunity to truly win them over by understanding where and how to connect with them successfully.

Meet the brand and media advocates.

• Surprisingly, the heavy social media user group isn’t Millennials. In fact, Generation X (ages 35-49) spends the most time on social media: almost 7 hours per week versus Millennials, who come in second, spending just over 6 hours per week.
• They’re female, 25% of their time online is spent on social media (vs.19% of males), and they reach across cultures.

Social media is one of the biggest opportunities that companies across industries have to connect directly to consumers. And it turns out that social media users can be pretty receptive—especially heavy users, who spend over 3 hours per day on social media.

Again, there’s this continued belief that Millennials are the digital generation. This does hold true, with 48% consuming video-on-demand daily — but, the same study shows 26% of Boomers also watch video-on-demand at least once a day. Again, a bit enlightening…but also reinforcing why you can’t discount who is using media and how it impacts their life. [For more on the growing impact of video, check out our infographic].

About the Generations
Millennials are sometimes less trustful and brand loyal, as they seek brands and products that empower positive change. They will use media to learn for themselves, inform others, and make mindful decisions. Gen Xers are more receptive, want to hear trusted advice from peers, and willing to take a risk if they feel that the brand will help them achieve their goal. They rely heavily on media to make the best decisions. Boomers, often labelled as media laggards, are generally brand loyalists. They base their purchase decisions on trust, history, and heritage. But, things are changing with the increasing embrace of media.

Regarding media usage, there are variations but not enough to discount speaking directly (and differently) across generations. The above chart from Nielsen shows the media usage differences among the generations. It is critical for every brand to understand their audience and frame their messaging and media usage based on demographics, passions/interests, and consumer behaviors. Don’t make assumptions.

Remember: age is just a number.