Freshwater’s London PR team look at how the generation gap between younger and older audiences is getting wider.
Social media and the evolution of technology has transformed the way people, particularly the younger generation, consume media. Millennials are unlikely to be out buying a newspaper every day. Instead, the 15-29 year old age bracket keep up to date with news via free access to social media or online media on their smartphones.
The combination of online media and smartphones has made the delivery of news considerably quicker. Nearly 80% of smartphone owners check messages and news within 15 minutes of it being uploaded. Many believe that this is a sign of things to come in the future, and it will no longer just be the younger generation using smartphones and social media to access the latest news. The Economist predicts that by 2020, 80% of the adult population will own a smartphone.
Could this mean increased access to online news outlets across all ages? And will this result in a decline in the professional journalism industry?
There is an argument that older generations aren’t willing or able to take up new media outlets, and that traditional media will never die. Many would not dream of changing their lifetime habits - continuing to purchase their daily newspaper and monthly magazines. This is about trust, a loyal relationship between the print brand and consumer. The older generation are more likely to want the news they read to be trustworthy and reliable, as well as feeling as though they are consuming quality information.
Younger generations do not seem to be as concerned about the source, and therefore the reliability, of their information. Although social media and online media outlets are considerably more convenient and cost-effective compared to buying printed media, some may argue these sources are less reliable.
But social media tends to connect the wider world, and mingles news with social connection, culture differences, global events, and entertainment. Through this media there is significant potential for leveraging partnerships between news, brands, causes and individuals. Rapidly growing social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, means that media consumption is reaching a younger age range, making our consumption much larger as a country and the younger generations more knowledgeable. The younger generation are also more drawn to news that they otherwise would have overlooked, and are more engaged in sharing and recommending news because of their social networks. They are also far more active on private networks such as group texts and instant messaging services like WhatsApp.
With mobile devices such as smartphones, news, entertainment, shopping and buying are all now at the tip of everybody’s fingers – but it seems the younger generation is much keener to make use of them.