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Strategic insights
Tapping into the Younger Demographic

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Written by on April 11, 2014

There is no question that the future depends on the younger generations, and this is especially true for the media industry. But we have a bit of a problem. As I wrote about in "The Generational Divide", the current audience of most media publications are very different from the younger and future audience.

The younger generations don't read the newspaper. To them, news is something that is continually flowing and, whenever something truly important happens, the stream thickens towards that topic. The older generations want news to function as a tool while the younger generations want it to be a companion.

You can't design it as a 'newspaper' because a 'package of news' is not a companion.

This has caused many media companies to try to reinvent themselves by creating 'something' that would appeal to young people, which is a good idea. But many traditional publishers seem to have an odd view about what young people are really like, what they want, and what they need.

There is a fundamental disconnect in targeting younger demographics, which is based on several critical misconceptions.

Specifically, traditional media people often define the younger demographic as the kind of socially snacking, shallow, superficial, celebrity-focused, share-minded audience... who are only looking for a quick viral fix.

And it seems the more shallow and pointless you make something, the more they think it will appeal to the younger demographic. But this is not what young people are like at all, and in this article we will explore why. We'll look at what's going on, and why young people behave differently than the older generations.

Note: I'm going to focus mostly on the media industry (newspapers, TV, magazines), but the same principles apply to brands.

ABC Social Square

Before we go into the real nature of the younger demographic, I want to show how bad it can get when old media companies don't understand their younger audience. There are plenty of examples to choose from, but Good Morning America's new Social Square is one the worst.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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