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How Different Generations Consume Video.

Millennials have dominated the marketing focus of businesses and organizations for years, but as the youngest millennials start to hit their thirties (where has the time gone, right?) many marketers have shifted their focus to Generation Z.

While paying attention to trends and relevancy is important, knowing your audience and understanding their habits is the real key to success. If you’re posting daily TikToks but your target audience is baby boomers, you probably won’t get the results you’re looking for.

To help you land on the right platform, here’s a brief summary of the generations and how they consume video:

Generation Z • 1997-2012

Having grown up during the peak of technological innovation, Gen Z is the first generation of digital natives. This availability of the internet, social media, mobile phones, tablets, and more has produced an incredibly tech-savvy generation. They care deeply about their impact on the world, and they make informed purchases that support their beliefs. The group as a whole is diverse, inclusive, and keen on trends. Currently, Gen Z makes up about 20% of the American population.

Almost two-thirds report using social media several times a day—much higher than the average of 47% across all generations. So no matter where you post content, Gen Z is likely to be there; however, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are their favorite platforms. Over half of all American users on TikTok are Gen Z, which is no surprise considering TikTok has now surpassed Instagram in popularity among American Gen Z users. Overall, people in this generation are looking for entertainment in online video including comedy, music, and gaming content.

Millennials • 1981-1996

Also known as Generation Y, millennials are known for being tech savvy, curious, and great multitaskers. They value work-life balance, flexibility, authenticity, and instant gratification. Growing up alongside technology and the internet, they stay connected to others online and often look to their networks for advice and recommendations. Almost 22% of the American population are millennials.

As of 2022, millennials make up the largest portion of YouTube viewers, often preferring YouTube over traditional TV for entertainment and news. Millennials also use YouTube to learn about topics and products that interest them, turning to trusted content creators for information.

Generation X • 1965-1980

Growing up as “latch-key” kids with little or no parental supervision forced Gen Xers to become resourceful, adaptable, and fiercely independent. In adulthood, these traits have made Gen X comfortable with technology, but not quite to the same level as younger generations. They tend to be more educated and more skeptical than their predecessors, the baby boomers. In America, Gen X constitutes 19% of the population.

Gen Xers love all things nostalgic and go to YouTube to watch videos about past events, pop culture moments, music, and movies. They use Facebook—the favorite site among this generation—to stay up to date and informed on businesses they are interested in.

Baby boomers • 1946-1964

Work ethic and confidence mark this generation. Their competitiveness and drive took them far in their careers, and now they’re retiring and spending their hard-earned money. Being healthier and more active than their parents, boomers spend less time relaxing in retirement and more time traveling and doing all the activities they missed out on in their younger years. Also known as the “me generation,” baby boomers are said to be self-centered and individualistic. Baby boomers come in just a fraction of a percent below millenials, making up 21.4% of the American population.

Baby boomers prefer YouTube and Facebook over all other social media sites. Baby boomers use YouTube as a resource to save time, get help, or learn something new, often searching for how-to and instructional videos on a variety of topics.

You really have to know your target audience to reach them. Use the analytics provided by Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms to identify your existing audience and compare that to your target.

All generations interact with video differently. A given generational audience may choose to use one platform instead of another and prefer different types of videos compared to their older or younger counterparts. What do they have in common? All generations favor video content online.


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