How Can Brands Deal With This Digital Divide?

Looking across the globe, the average millennial (aged 16 - 30) with Internet access spends 3.2 hours a day on their mobile devices - the equivalent of 22.4 hours - almost a whole day - every week. That's 1,168 hours or 49 days over the course of a year.

In India it is 2.2 hours a day, where digital access is becoming mobile - driven; 85% of the weekly internet millennial population in india now own a smartphone, according to connected life, a study of over 60,000 internet users worldwide from global research consultancy TNS.

Millennial's prioritize social over other forms of media, with 43 per cent using social media daily, or watching online video (42 per cent). This age group are also the most likely to adopt new buying methods such as mobile payments (11 per cent of millennial's in India do this weekly).

However, focusing on how to use new channels to engage millennial's can be an expensive distraction. By constantly trying to keep up with the most digitally advanced consumers, brands risk leaving behind other consumers who are also shifting their patterns of behavior, albeit at a slower pace.

Parijat Chakraborty, Executive Director, TNS India comments, "About half of the time spent on mobile is on social media, true for all three segments in India. This poses further challenges for brands to create relevant contents for different segments, communicate in meaningful manner to each using the same media channels and engage them with the brand." He adds, "While the segments have similar pattern of consuming traditional media, it is the watching online video on which these segments differ significantly." This dual pace in consumer adoption rates is creating a growing 'digital divide' that is most evident in Western markets, particularly the US, UK, Germany and France, leaving many businesses struggling with how they can tailor content for different audiences.

Barclays is one example of a company that is successfully bridging this gap, reaching young people through social media and instant messaging, while targeting 'silver surfers' through bespoke training courses and downloadable guides to help them with online banking and other digital platforms. Joseph Webb, Global Director of Connected Life, said: "Brands need to be wary of making sweeping assumptions about the digital habits of different age groups. While millennial's are clearly an important demographic, Generation X (aged 31-45) and the baby boomers (aged 46- 65) generally have higher disposable incomes, established buying patterns and are spending increasingly more time online.

Brands are often too focused on the need to market to their most advanced digital consumer, when actually a tiered strategy, reflecting where the spending power actually sits, may be more appropriate." In today's fragmented media landscape, millennial's are using even more platforms across IM, social and traditional channels. More than one in 10 (14%) of 16-30 year olds use instant messaging every day, while almost two hours a day are spent watching video ondemand and TV shows on the internet.

Webb continued: "As brands race to catch up with consumers and stay up-to-date on the newest platforms, they need to address two challenges. Firstly, they need to make sure they are focusing on the content - driven, shareable campaigns that really cut through with this user group. Secondly they need to not to fall into the trap of assuming that older customers can be easily targeted solely through traditional media. Patterns of behavior are also shifting among these groups and their higher spending power means tailored messaging and media plans are essential."

What does it means?

  • 1) By constantly trying to keep up with the most digitally advanced consumers, brands risk leaving behind other consumers who are also shifting their patterns of behavior, albeit at a slower pace.
  • 2) Brands need to be wary of making sweeping assumptions about the digital habits of different age groups.
  • 3) Brands are often too focused on the need to market to their most advanced digital consumer, when actually a tiered strategy, reacting where the spending power actually sits, may be more appropriate.

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