Survey Reveals Generational Gap in Content Consumption


Some outward differences between age groups are easily observed, such as hairstyle, clothing, and taste in cars and music.

But as tuned-in integrated marketers know, it’s the unseen differences–like values, preferences and online behaviors–that businesses need to be aware of.

Case in point: the recently revealed ‘generation gap’ in digital content consumption that exists between Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers. Researchers define the groups by the year in which they were born:

  • Millennials–1977-1995
  • GenXers–1965-1976
  • Baby Boomers–1946-1964

If you don’t know which content your customers enjoy (and ignore) the most, you’re pouring marketing resources down the proverbial drain.

Likes, Dislikes and Habits

Some interesting and instructive differences between the groups recently came to light in an eye-opening survey of 1200 adults from Fractl and BuzzStream. Key findings, summarized below, may help inform your content strategy, and fine-tune the production of future marketing resources:

Survey participants were asked to share opinions and preferences for 15 types of content, ranging from blog articles to white papers. Respondents also estimated how much time they typically spend engaging with different content. Here’s a taste of what their answers revealed:

Most and Least Loved Content

  • Content most favored by all three groups: blog articles, images, comments, and eBooks.
  • Content least favored by all three groups: webinars, quizzes, SlideShares and white papers. (Question for B2B marketers: how does this revelation square with your current content marketing strategy?)

Preferred Length

When it comes to content, it turns out the attention span for all three generations is roughly equal, with each group most preferring articles of about 300 words. Half of boomers polled like pieces that shorter than the 300 count, while 18 percent go for content totaling 200 words.

And here’s one you didn’t see coming: 20 percent GenXers prefer longer articles of 500 words or more.

Time Spent Engaging Online

Now, you might think that younger people spend more time with content. But you’d be wrong. Boomers lead handily in this stat: more than 25 percent screen-gaze for at least 20 hours weekly. By comparison, the largest percentage of both Millennials and GenXers (23 percent) only consume between five and 10 hours per week.

Stay Tuned. There’s More to Come.

We agree with experts who predict a breakout year for companies who market with content.
We also feel strongly in helping new and experienced practitioners maximize content effectiveness.

That’s why we’re planning a rare part-two follow-up to this post. Part Two will not only explain predicted trends may impact your business, it will also break down the latest recommended best practices, and provide access to a free downloadable content marketing checklist.

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