Digital Media Is Trouncing Traditional Media Among Generation Y Consumers

Digital Media Is Trouncing Traditional Media Among Generation Y Consumers

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MediaPost writes today, summarizing a study from L2, that Generation Y is more prone to connect to brands digitally than any previous generation before it.  And while that may not be a surprise–gee, young people are more into social and digital media than older people, I’m completely shocked–the data suggests that the trend is even stronger than we previously thought.

Generation Y covers individuals from age 12 to 29, and for this study, they specifically talked to Gen Y members that “expect to earn $80,000 a year in the near future.”  So… in some ways, this study is about the rich kids–or at least… the kids that think they’ll be rich (which is probably most of them, come to think of it).  But there are important reasons why the study focused on those expecting to make a lot of money, not the least of which is the fact that those individuals tend to spend more as consumers.  Also, they act as trend setters for the rest of their generation, so brands are eager to win their approval.

So what does the report say?  Let’s find out…

Gen Y Loves Social Media

Another shocker–Gen Y kids love Facebook.  Gasp!  But even though I could have told you that without having read this report, I couldn’t have guessed exactly how important Facebook had become.  81% of those surveyed use the social network daily.  And that doubles the newspaper-reading segment, which sits at only 45%.  Heck, only 44% of respondents watch TV shows daily.  Here’s where I get to sound like an old man… In my day, we wasted our free time watching cartoons and various other television programs.  But kids today prefer to fritter the hours away online, connecting with friends via social media.  What is this world coming to?

45% of them read blogs every day.  Every day.  That should be a flashing red light to any brands that thought blogging was a trend whose time had come and gone.

Gen Y Loves Mobile

25% of those surveyed use mobile devices as their primary means of accessing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  That number is only going to climb as the mobile revolution continues and smart phones become the norm.  Also, 13% of respondents said they’d watched a video on a mobile device within the past 24 hours.

Gen Y Loves Video

Speaking of video, it’s a pretty popular type of content with this age bracket, as you might have guessed.  42% watch television shows online, and 27% watch movies online.  Pair those numbers with the 13% that watch video on a mobile device daily, and you have some serious reasons to be bullish on the future of online video–not that any of us were skeptical to begin with, but it’s nice to see some data confirming our suspicions.

Digital Versus Print

Print media isn’t dead with the Gen Y crowd, at least not yet.  Magazines, in particular, seem to be a big part of their involvement with print media, as 71% of them read print magazines.  On the flip side, only 24% read magazine content online.  Some of this might be explained by how difficult it has proven to be to recreate the print magazine experience online.  I’m sure some would suggest that the iPad is slowly changing this trend.

While people 12-29 still read newspapers, the vast majority of them do so online–66% to be exact.  Not really a surprise there, I think.  Online newspaper content is faster, more up-to-date, and can be consumed in multiple ways, even on the go.  Print news, sadly, is none of those things.  Stories don’t just break and then end anymore.  News stories today are a constant mash of updates, twists, new details, and opinion.  In the war between digital and print media (which digital has already won, by the way), print simply doesn’t have the firepower of flexibility it needs to keep up.


Brands aren’t solely focused on Generation Y.  Most of them are smart enough to cater to both older and younger generations as well, because we’re all consumers… no matter what our age.  But make no mistake: brands are definitely paying a lot more attention to what Generation Y is doing than they are to what my parents’ generation is doing… because only one of those groups is the future of consumer spending.  Gen Y are the ones who will be the parents and breadwinners for the next 30 years, reading the news, buying new family sedans, and dong the Christmas shopping.  And if this latest report is any indication, they’ll be doing all that digitally.


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