My dad + smartphone = confusion: Understanding how different generations use emerging media

Professional marketers know the importance of researching their target age group, cultural background and ethnicity. As such, it is essential to understand what technology is  used before developing a campaign in order to send a message via the appropriate medium. For example, a news paper advertisement would not be as successful compared to a campaign that utilizes social media for those under the age of 18. Pew Research Center has conducted several surveys to differentiate age group’s emerging media usage.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 46% of American adults have smartphones The population with the highest percentage of ownership are the 25-34 year olds at 71% and the lowest are seniors 65 or older at only 13%.

But smartphones are only a part of the emerging media cohort, which includes computers, tablets and game systems. A subsection of the Pew Internet and American Life Project titled Generations and their gadgets, digs deeper into which generation owns what.  Millennials , those between 18 and 34 years old have the highest ownership of cell phones, laptop computers and iPod/MP3 and tie with Generation X, those between 35 and 56 years old, for ownership of a game consoles. As a marketing professional, I would certainly design a campaign to reach the Millennial generation by using mobile media.

Whether it be on a laptop, desktop or iPhone, Internet usage is growing, even for those 65 and older. The Internet Adoption Over Time report from Pew Research illustrates that in 2000 only 12% of older Americans used the Internet. By 2011, however their usage has grown to 41%. Should a community marketing an activity for older Americans invest in a campaign using the Internet: Absolutely, if the socioeconomics of their target have Internet access. Would a campaign for the same message be as successful if it were done through mobile Internet such as smartphones: Probably not. At least not for my father whose idea of social media is the newspaper.

There are many factors in addition to age that marketers consider when designing a campaign. It requires a lot of research and hard work and a combination of different tactics. But knowing the generation’s usage of different emerging media is very important as I hope I have demonstrated. I know for myself that if a company trying to sell me something had an ad in the local newspaper I would completely miss it. But an ad online, through mobile media and in a game placement just might reach me.

What generation am I?

Dedicated to my dad: My hero.