Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, understanding your audience is the key to not only tailoring your messaging but also determining the channels through which you deliver that story. Generational differences play a large role in how your audience is consuming media online and should be taken into account as you develop your messaging strategy.
As we dug into a number of different studies on digital behavior within the different generations, Baby Boomers had a few surprises. First, we found that Baby Boomers spend an average of 20 hours a week consuming content online. That’s two times as much time as Millennials and Generation X. And if you think Baby Boomers aren’t on social media, you’re wrong. At least 75% of all Boomers are on social media. Not only that, but Boomers are actually 19% more likely to actually share content on Facebook compared to any other generation!
While Gen Xers share a lot of traits with both Baby Boomers and Millennials, they are much more similar with Millennials and Gen Z. They share nearly identical online media consumption statistics with Gen Z and Millennials as well as new media like OOT (streaming services like Hulu) and video game usage. More traditionally, however, only 46% were considered digitally savvy in a study that tested generational ability to adapt and use mobile and online applications, navigate specific websites, and identify common web iconography. Generation X is also 45% more likely to research online and purchase in store than the younger generations and favor a mix of traditional and digital messaging.
Millennials have spent most of their life with technology and likely grew up as technology and the internet was evolving at an incredible rate. Because of this, they are the first generation to lead in mobile usage as a primary device when compared to Baby Boomers and Gen X. They’re also likely to use multiple digital channels in the research process. Perhaps a result of the combination of digital savviness and tendency to utilize a number of digital channels, Millennials are also much more likely to be affected by online review sites.
Social Media Usage by Generation
Based on a Sprout Social consumer survey, Facebook is still the clear leader as primary social network across all generations. While Baby Boomers are very heavily weighted towards Facebook, they also lead the growth rate in Instagram (up 59% since 2016), and both Generation X and Baby Boomers favored YouTube as the second most popular platform.
Millennials spread their preferences much more evenly across all platforms. It’s also very interesting to note that Millennials are the only generation that is actually slowing down their social media usage. This could be a sign that Millennials may be seeking more real-life experiences and better engagement from the brands they follow online, compared to passive scrolling.
Digital Behavior is Converging
As technology becomes more accessible, the younger generations are showing similar behavior when it comes to digital. Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z (digital natives) are showing very similar numbers when it comes to hours spent consuming online media, as well as how they are engaging with online brands. This shows the importance in keeping your marketing efforts diverse and not working off of assumptions based on your audience’s generation. As age demographics become less valuable when informing targeting and channel choices, behavioral targeting becomes much more important. It’s important to remember that, with all the generalized data out there, your audience is still comprised of very unique people.