With more people of all ages online than ever before, marketers must create content that resonates with multiple generations. Successful marketers realize that each generation has unique expectations, values and experiences that influence consumer behaviors, and that offering your audience content that reflects their shared interests is a powerful way to connect with them and inspire them to take action.
We’re in the midst of a generational shift, with Millennials expected to surpass Baby Boomers in 2015 as the largest living generation. In order to be competitive, marketers need to realize where key distinctions and similarities lie in terms of how these different generations consume content and share it with with others.
To better understand the habits of each generation, BuzzStream and Fractl surveyed over 1,200 individuals and segmented their responses into three groups: Millennials (born between 1977–1995), Generation X (born between 1965–1976), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946–1964). [Eds note: The official breakdown for each group is as follows: Millennials (1981-1997), Generation X (1965-1980), and Boomers (1946-1964)]
Our survey asked them to identify their preferences for over 15 different content types while also noting their opinions on long-form versus short-form content and different genres (e.g., politics, technology, and entertainment).
We compared their responses and found similar habits and unique trends among all three generations.
Here’s our breakdown of the three key takeaways you can use to elevate your future campaigns:
1. Baby Boomers are consuming the most content
However, they have a tendency to enjoy it earlier in the day than Gen Xers and Millennials.
Although we found striking similarities between the younger generations, the oldest generation distinguished itself by consuming the most content. Over 25 percent of Baby Boomers consume 20 or more hours of content each week. Additional findings:
- Baby Boomers also hold a strong lead in the 15–20 hours bracket at 17 percent, edging out Gen Xers and Millennials at 12 and 11 percent, respectively
- A majority of Gen Xers and Millennials—just over 22 percent each—consume between 5 and 10 hours per week
- Less than 10 percent of Gen Xers consume less than five hours of content a week—the lowest of all three groups
We also compared the times of day that each generation enjoys consuming content. The results show that most of our respondents—over 30 percent— consume content between 8 p.m. and midnight. However, there are similar trends that distinguish the oldest generation from the younger ones:
- Baby Boomers consume a majority of their content in the morning. Nearly 40 percent of respondents are online between 5 a.m. and noon.
- The least popular time for most respondents to engage with content online is late at night, between midnight and 5 a.m., earning less than 10 percent from each generation
- Gen X is the only generation to dip below 10 percent in the three U.S. time zones: 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., 6 to 8 p.m., and midnight to 5 a.m.
When it comes to which device each generation uses to consume content, laptops are the most common, followed by desktops. The biggest distinction is in mobile usage: Over 50 percent of respondents who use their mobile as their primary device for content consumption are Millennials. Other results reveal:
- Not only do Baby Boomers use laptops the most (43 percent), but they also use their tablets the most. (40 percent of all primary tablet users are Baby Boomers).
- Over 25 percent of Millennials use a mobile device as their primary source for content
- Gen Xers are the least active tablet users, with less than 8 percent of respondents using it as their primary device