Digital Divergence: Opportunities for Marketers to Leverage Social Networking to Engage with Younger Adult Consumers

Social Networking Behaviours Vary Across Generations with Trailing Millennials Demonstrating Highest Levels of Brand Engagement

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Toronto, ON – FOMO, YOLO, ‘Shipping’ - with the introduction of newer technologies, media platforms, and a younger generation of consumers keen to use them, comes a new lexicon of language. These newly developed acronyms, phrases and slang can be used for socializing, entertainment or even dealing with brands. While we know Live TV is still part of the vocabulary of Trailing Millennials (those ages 18-24 years), it’s undeniable that this young cohort has developed a unique media diet, spending more time gaming (78 minutes, 20% of 6.3 media hours), browsing (60 minutes, 17% of 6.3 media hours), and social networking (48 minutes, 13% of 6.3 media hours) than any other generation. Ipsos’ Canadian Media Landscape study (a study designed to support marketers as they strive to connect with target consumers in the new media landscape), conducts an ongoing investigation of the media lives of Canadians across generations to capture a snapshot of current behaviours and provide marketers with a better understanding of how to reach their target audience.

The latest results from this syndicated study illustrate a divide in how generations, and even sub-segments of generations, choose to engage with various forms of media (watching, listening, reading, gaming, browsing and social networking). With regards to social networking overall, Trailing Millennials clock in at 13% (48 minutes) of their total daily media intake, while Leading Millennials (25-32 years) come in a close second at 11% (30 minutes). Gen Xers aren’t far behind, with 10% (30 minutes) of their total daily media interactions spent on Social Networking and Boomers trail behind at 6% (24 minutes).

“Similar to what we saw with Watching, we see clear, distinct patterns of media consumption behaviour between generations when it comes to Social Networking,” says Mary Beth Barbour, Senior Vice President with Ipsos Reid in Toronto. “When breaking down the generational groups even further, we see very specific Trailing Millennial engagement with social media that is in sharp differentiation to other generations – 60% more time spent with Social Networking compared to Leading Millennials and Gen Xers, and twice as much compared to Boomers. Understanding these distinctions can help marketers optimize their communication efforts by age group.”

And so while Trailing Millennials spend more time Social Networking than the other generations, it’s their specific behaviours related to social networking that highlight opportunities for marketers. The younger cohort spends more of their Social Networking occasions engaging with brands vs. any other generation, in fact 27% of their Social Networking occasions are spent reading posts made by brands or making posts to brands vs. 23% for Gen Xers and 20% for Boomers.

Barbour goes on to say, “And similar to what was observed with Watching, Leading Millennials are not only closer in their Social Networking behaviors to Gen Xers, they mirror it – it’s less about age, and more about stage. Indeed, for both cohorts, 71% of Social Networking occasions are spent reading or making posts and 23% of occasions are spent reading posts made by brands or making posts to brands. Every marketer we talk to is looking to get a handle on Millennials, but the data shows that marketers need to look at this as Trailing Millennials and Leading Millennials, with each group’s unique needs defined by their life stage.”

View this page to learn more about Ipsos’ Canadian Media Landscape:

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted from June – December 2014. This online survey of 11,300 Canadian adults (18+) was conducted via the Ipsos Online Panel, one of Ipsos Reid's national online panels. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/-1.1 percentage points had all Canadians adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Mary Beth Barbour
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Reid
(416) 572-4409

Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services
Ipsos in North America
(778) 373-5136

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada’s market intelligence leader, the country’s leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, health and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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Digital Divergence: Opportunities for Marketers to Leverage Social Networking to Engage with Younger Adult Consumers


Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America

Mary Beth Barbour
Senior Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Marketing