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Media Consumption Across Generations

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Media Consumption Across Generations

Optimize your brand’s connection with consumers across generations by understanding where they consume media content, and why they’re going there to do so. Keep reading for key insights and a downloadable deck on social media, visual entertainment, and audio streaming.

Media is a major aspect of consumers’ everyday lives. Americans spend a significant amount of their time and attention consuming social media, visual entertainment, and audio streaming content. For brands and advertisers across industries to succeed, they need to understand where people are going to consume media content, and why they’re going there.

  • Are they following specific topics?
  • Are they following influencers?
  • Are they looking for products to purchase?
  • Are they just killing time?
  • Is it device dependent?
  • Does it depend on the race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender of the characters or hosts?

Collage Group’s 2021 Media Study answers these questions by providing granular insights across generations. Our research reveals the specific platforms American media users go to, and what they’re using them for. The data dives deep into content and platform drivers—spanning categories, passion points, and identity attributes.

Fill out the form to download an excerpt of our Media Consumption Across Generations presentation. Read below for key insights. 

Social Media

Key Insight: Influencers drive younger generations to social media just as much as keeping up with friends and family.

This is paramount to understanding Gen Z and Millennial behavior online. For instance, these generations tend to be much more commerce-focused on social media. This also unlocks insight on why specific sites are used. Instagram is the favored platform for keeping up with influencers, much more so than it’s being used to follow real life connections, like friends and family.

Gen Z Media Consumption Chart

Visual Media

Key Insight: “Single-show sign-ups” explain why younger generations, particularly Millennials, use so many platforms.

Gen Z and Millennials are especially particular about the content they consume. They know what they want, and they’ll go to greater lengths to get it. Even if it means subscribing to an entire streaming service just for one show. Movies and shows are a strong passion point for these generations, and their desire to be in-the-know on pop culture accelerates this behavior.

Streaming Service Subscription Chart

Audio Media

Key Insight: Millennials (the most enthusiastic podcast listeners) are busy with careers and kids, so they tune in while doing other tasks.

Almost three-quarters of Millennials listen to podcasts and radio shows while driving, studying, working, or doing chores. For them, it’s a way to use their time efficiently while also carving out some “me time” to listen to shows they like. In the car, AM/FM radio remains most common, with Spotify a strong runner-up. While multitasking generally, Millennials use a variety of platforms. Additions to their audio streaming repertoire include social media sites like YouTube and Pandora.

Audio Media Platform Preference Chart

Find the full set of research includes category-specific data across generations, as well as race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender, and searchable data on our Instant Insights tool–all available to members of Collage Group cultural intelligence platforms.

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Essentials of Millennial Consumers

Essentials of Millennial Consumers

Want to better connect with Millennials? Read on for five things your brand needs to know to authentically connect with the Millennial generational cohort.

Collage Group’s Essentials of Millennial consumers explores three areas of our consumer fundamentals research: demographics, identity, and Cultural Traits. Read below for several key insights and then download the sample research deck to dive deeper into our Millennial Cultural Traits.

1. It is clear: Younger American generations are more diverse than older generations.

The country is projected to reach Majority Minority status (where the white population dips below 50%) in about 30 years, but that demographic shift is being driven by young Americans now. Gen Xers saw the biggest increase in diversity from older generations, but Millennials saw even larger levels of diversity. Millennial’s intrinsic diversity means also that they have higher expectations for brands to go beyond simple inclusive representation in their marketing efforts to demonstrate true cultural nuance and understanding.

2. Due to shifts in society, including financial constraints, Millennials have delayed many life milestones. When it comes to marriage, Millennials have waited much longer than older generations to tie the knot.

 Compared to older Boomers, Millennials are now getting married nearly eight years later in life. Millennial women who marry are doing so around 28 years old (compared to Boomer women at just 21 years old) and Millennial men tend to be nearly 31 years old (compared to Boomer men at 23 years old) when they walk down the aisle.

3. Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say that their racial/ethnic identities feel more important today than ever.

This is even higher than the more diverse Gen Z generation. Gen X Americans share this sentiment with Millennials making this issue less about old vs. young and more about generational context. Boomers may not be reflecting on race in the same way as other generations due to their limited internal diversity. Gen Z may be more focused on intersections of race, sexuality, age, and class bypassing more generic demographic categories like race. Millennials and Gen X are more diverse than Boomers and have experienced a major shifting in how society views and engages with race and ethnicity. The result is a generation more focused on their own racial/ethnic identities.

 Millennials score the highest of all generations in the Cultural Attributes of Adventurousness and Exceptionalism. Millennials also part ways with Gen Z by scoring significantly higher in Independence. Millennials’ Cultural Attributes highlight a generation that values new experiences, sees their worldview as unique, and are more likely than Gen Z to act independently from those around them.

5. Brands can better connect with Millennials by leveraging the cohort’s Group Traits.

Four key Group Traits for better engaging with Millennials include: Ambition, Go-with-the-Flow, Cosmopolitan, and Tuned-in. These traits can be used to create more authentic advertising, connect across cohorts through shared traits, and identify opportunities to better position your brand.

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Essentials of Gen X Consumers

Essentials of Gen X Consumers

Collage Group’s Essentials of Gen X consumers presentation explores three areas of our consumer fundamentals research: demographics and economic opportunity, identity related marketing expectations, and Cultural Traits.

Read below for several key insights and then download the presentation and recorded webinar to go deeper into our Gen X Cultural Traits.

Collage Group’s Essentials of Gen X consumers presentation explores three areas of our consumer fundamentals research: demographics and economic opportunity, identity related marketing expectations, and Cultural Traits. Read below for several key insights and then download the presentation and recorded webinar to go deeper into our Gen X Cultural Traits.

1. Gen X (aged between 42-56 years old in 2021) are less diverse than Millennials and Gen Z, but they’re significantly more diverse than the Baby Boomer cohort.

40% of the generation are people of color, much more than the 29% of Boomers. In fact, the rate of change in diversity between Baby Boomers and Gen X is much higher than from Gen X to Millennials or Millennials to Gen Z, showing how Gen X has led the way into the era of intrinsic generational diversity that exists today.

2. Despite being the smallest generation by population size, in 2019 Gen X was both the highest-earning and highest-spending generation of them all.

Due to their current life stage, Xers have reached the peak of their income potential in high-powered career positions and incur high costs for things like taking care of family and paying steep tuition prices for their college-bound kids. The Millennial and Gen X Segments Are Most Likely to Hold this View.

3. Gen Xers are most likely to go out of their way to support brands that are inclusive of people with physical disabilities, perhaps because they came of age during the fight for disability rights and the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

 Uniquely, Gen X was the only generation that included looking for brands that support Christians in their top five priorities, although this statistic was driven by white Gen Xers and is less prominent for multicultural Gen Xers.

4. As a smaller generation positioned between two larger cohorts, Gen X often finds themselves bridging gaps in society.

Growing up, they bridged the divide between analog and digital, and transitioned into the post-Cold War world. Gen X often feels caught in the middle and has been called the “sandwich” generation.

5. Brands can better connect with Gen X by leveraging the cohort’s Cultural Traits. Four important traits are: Self-Reliance, Enterprising, Optimism, and Traditional.

These traits can be used to create more authentic advertising, identify efficiencies to connect across cohorts through shared traits, and identify how to best position your brand.

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Four Group Traits That Best Characterize Millennial Consumers

Four Traits That Best Characterize Millennial Consumers

Our newly updated Millennial Cultural Traits provides powerful new insights into America’s largest generation and one of its most diverse.

One in five Americans are Millennials, the generation born from 1980 through 1996.

As of 2021, this segment is now ages 24-41, with the entire generation of working age, and many now entering parenthood. To capture the growing influence and expenditures of this consumer segment, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of Millennials.

Which Group Traits best characterize Millennials?

The four Group Traits which best characterize the Millennial segment are AmbitionGo-with-the-Flow, Cosmopolitan, and Tuned-in.

1. Ambition

People sharing the Group Trait of Ambition are driven to succeed, and to focus on the necessary steps towards achieving their goals.

These individuals are most attuned to the future impacts of their daily choices, especially when they know what might make or break their grand aspirations.

Millennials are a generation that’s been dealt a heavy hand. They’ve now lived through not one, but two economic recessions. Many came of age in a poor job market in the late 2000s, stunting their career. And on top of it all, they face rising costs such as tuition, healthcare, and housing. These circumstances have necessitated a “sink or swim” attitude, and Millennials responded by acting towards securing a better future for themselves. They’re the most educated generation to date, they’re borderline “workaholic,” and they take their side hustles seriously – all in pursuit of security.

Although Hispanic Americans firmly believe in keeping and cultivating their cultural heritage, they have had to adapt culturally as immigrants and minorities. As a result, duality is their reality—they seamlessly navigate both worlds with a cultural fluidity that is easy and authentic.

Millennials are always on the grind, so it’s important to offer them ways to be more efficient – to get even more accomplished with less time or effort.

Position your brand as a resource to help them overcome obstacles and achieve success. Celebrate Millennials’ intense dedication, something they probably don’t hear enough amidst the “lazy” and “entitled” stereotypes. And finally, remind them it’s okay to take a break, practice self-care, and treat themselves.

2. Go-with-the-Flow

People sharing the Group Trait of Go-with-the-Flow feel a resilience and contentment towards life.

These individuals are more likely to express a “ce’est la vie” attitude towards their personal situations, accepting that their fates are largely out of their own hands.

Millennials are keenly aware of the twists and turns of life. While many grew up during the booming 80s and 90s, they’ve now experienced several decades of rapid and dramatic change including the 9/11 attacks, the Great Recession of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession of 2020. Facing uncertainty is a defining factor of their lifetimes. These young Americans have learned to go with the flow of life and expect the unexpected. They’re resilient and take what life throws at them, while remaining staunchly optimistic.

At the core of it all, Millennials want empathy, so show sensitivity to their unique struggles.

Take a realistic tone when appealing to them. Encourage hope without discounting the realities of the world. And don’t be afraid to use humor to diffuse the tension – to them, this shows that you understand what they’re going through.

3. Cosmopolitan

People sharing the Group Trait of Cosmopolitan value spending time with people of diverse backgrounds and walks of life.

These individuals are more likely to seek out opportunities to engage with people from different cultural backgrounds than their own.

Millennials are an inherently diverse generation that craves novelty and wide-reaching experiences. Many Millennials seek to understand their own diverse heritage as a way to find meaning in a world that has proven unpredictable. And they welcome cultural and personal diversity in their social circles, hobbies, and activities as a way to experience the world in its full complexity.

There’s never been a better time to lean into diversity, and when you do, Millennials will be here for it!

Millennials are often known as the “experiences” generation, and much of what’s driving their thirst for adventure is a desire to experience other cultures. Whether through food, music, history, or more, give Millennials a reason to step outside the box of their everyday lives. Position your products as a way to learn about and experience other cultures.

4. Tuned-In

People sharing the Group Trait of Tuned-In want to keep up with the current cultural moment, especially when it comes to entertainment.

These individuals are more likely to seek out and participate in the latest of trends and popular culture, and to have little shame in going along with “mainstream” tastes.

Millennials—like previous generations their age—desire to be in-the-know when it comes to trends and pop culture. But unlike previous generations, Millennials grew up through the transition of unparalleled technological innovations, inciting a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and a need to keep up with their changing world. Along the way, technology offered them greater access to culture, trends, and news, spawning deep interests across a variety of topics.

Brands have ample opportunity to play in this space.

This can be as simple as building hype around brand or product news, even if it’s small, to give Millennials something to be excited about. Stay up to date on the pop culture trends Millennials are into so you can connect with them on topics they’re passionate about. And finally, repackage your content in multiple formats, like shows, podcasts, memes, and social media posts to reach Millennials through the multitude of channels they use to stay in-the-know.

Fill out the form below to learn how we can help your brand achieve Cultural Fluency.

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Four Group Traits That Best Characterize the Gen Z Consumer Segment

Four Group Traits That Best Characterize the Gen Z Consumer Segment

Our Gen Z Cultural Traits research provides powerful new insights into America’s youngest and still-emerging consumer demographic. Read on to discover the four essential traits you need to know about Gen Z consumers.

One in five Americans are members of Gen Z, the generation born from 1997 through 2012. As of 2020, this segment is now ages 8-23, with many now finishing their education and (attempting to) enter the workforce. To capture the growing influence and expenditures of this consumer segment, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of Gen Z.

Download an excerpt from our presentation, Appeal to Gen Z Cultural Traits:

Across the last several years, Collage Group has been developing powerful new tools to help brands become more Culturally Fluent. Our Cultural Traits are central to this effort. These data-driven tools provide measures of cultural variation that reveal insights into the similarities and differences across consumer segments.

Which Group Traits best characterize the Gen Z segment?

The four Group Traits which best characterize the Gen Z segment are Pressured, Skeptical, Recognition-Seeking, and Self-Expression.

1. Pressured

People sharing the Group Trait of Pressured tend to feel overwhelmed by their many obligations.

A major source of tension with these individuals is balancing the expectations of achieving external measures of success with the desire to live life the way they truly want to.

Gen Z faces a variety of life-stage pressures which manifest in ways no generation has seen before. Family pressures can be rather intense in the face of households navigating multiple economic disasters in the span of only a decade. Social pressures are more pronounced in the age of social media, where “fitting in” requires constant participation in the editing and filtering of one’s everyday life. And pressures to succeed academically and in the workforce have just recently hit a major roadblock in the combined recession and social distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst these pressures, it is important to remind Gen Z consumers that they need to take care of themselves. Despite “self-care” having youthful connotations, America’s youngest consumers are the least likely to prioritize their health – physical, mental, or otherwise. 

2. Skeptical

People sharing the Group Trait of Skeptical lack confidence in their own specific futures and life journeys. Not seeing much to be hopeful for in the world around them, these individuals are more likely to fear the worst and worry about whatever lies ahead.

From Gen Z’s perspective, it makes sense to be worried about the future. From the ever-looming existential threat of climate change to increasing awareness of racism, sexism, wealth inequality, and gun violence, much seems to stand in the way of young consumers living happy and fulfilling lives. Gen Z doesn’t have faith in many traditional institutions as they currently operate, and they are on the lookout for new and innovative solutions.

And Gen Z is very open to brands being part of these solutions. These young consumers are most likely to say that companies and organizations should play an active role in addressing social issues, even if there is no direct relation to their product or category. 

3. Recognition-Seeking

People sharing the Group Trait of Recognition-Seeking are proud of their accomplishments and want to receive external recognition for their good work. These consumers are therefore more receptive to positive reinforcement, through reminders of what they have already accomplished and what they still stand to achieve.

Amidst all of today’s challenges and uncertainties, Gen Z wants to know they are on the right track. Moreover, these young consumers know they will have to distinguish themselves to get ahead in an increasingly competitive and specialized workforce. As a result, Gen Z prizes being perceived as intelligent, interesting, and successful at what they do.

But these young consumers also recognize the essential contributions others have had in their success. In the digital age, there is a growing awareness of reliance on shared platforms for educational, professional, and personal achievement. 

4. Self-Expression

People sharing the Group Trait of Self-Expression have talent and creative potential they can’t wait to share with the world. These individuals know they have something special to offer, and they are therefore more likely to take whatever opportunities they can find to broadcast their craft and artistry.

For Gen Z, Self-Expression is an important means of exploring and refining their individual senses of identity. Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to describe themselves to others based on their hobbies and special interests. Expressing these interests through creative outlets – including social media – is therefore a more personal affair than it might be for older consumers. Brands have ample opportunity, then, to facilitate Gen Z’s exploration and expression of identity.

Fill out the form below to learn how we can help your brand achieve Cultural Fluency.

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The Self-Aware Generation: How Gen Z Consumers Choose to Self-Identify

The Self-Aware Generation: How Gen Z Consumers Choose to Self-Identify

From sexuality to star signs, Gen Z self-identifies in more ways than older consumers. Here’s what brands need to know to activate on the many ways America’s youngest consumers self-identify.

Gen Z has grown up in an increasingly diverse and polarized America. At the same time, social media continues to generate new universes of micro-communities, each creating new ways to self-identify. As a result, these young consumers embrace more and more what makes them different, as individuals, rather than what makes them the same as everyone around them.

Given the vast landscape of identities open to Gen Z, it is essential for brands to understand what, if anything, these young consumers do hold in common. Here are some key insights to get you started:

1. Gen Z is the most self-aware of its status as a “generation”.

All individuals born from 1997 through 2012 can claim membership in Generation Z. which follows Generation Y, or the “Millennial” Generation. While there is not yet final consensus on whether Gen Z will receive such a title, we see tremendous interest within the generation in using whatever words are available for self-identification. Almost half of Gen Z consumers use their generational identity to describe themselves to others, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. With phrases like “ok boomer” and “zoomer humor” ever-present in the Gen Z lexicon, generational identity is very real for these youngest of adult consumers.

2. Gen Z is most likely to think sexuality is important to identity.

Today’s young consumers live in a world which not only accepts sexual identity, but also encourages individuals to celebrate and explore their own sexualityGen Z is the most likely generation to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. And 1 in 5 Gen Z consumers say that sexuality is one of the most important aspects of their identities for self-description, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. Understanding the LGBTQ+ segment will only increase in importance for brands hoping to earn market share with this segment.

3. Gen Z continues the Millennial trend of embracing “alternative” sources of identity – astrology included!

While they’re not likely to be checking the morning papers for their daily horoscopes, roughly 2 in 5 Gen Z and Millennial consumers leverage the Western zodiac as a tool for self-identification. Apps and online resources allow consumers to gain hyper-personalized “insight” into their astrological identities through star charts and compatibility analysis with contacts who also use the same platforms. Additionally, the Gen Z meme ecosystem provides (often humorous) content which reinforces associations between star signs and individual personality. These webs of association also offer plenty of space for brands to make connections with their product offerings.

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