When we hear about digital media consumer studies, we’re always focused on the growth in digital media and it’s impact on revenue and print. But to me, the more interesting story is usually buried under the headlines.
That was the case with IBM’s third annual Digital Media Consumer Study. The study is part of a research series that has surveyed nearly 10,000 consumers over the past three years. Like all consumer studies, it reveals that digital media use has grown at a staggering pace.
- Between 2007 and 2009, mobile music and video adoption increased fivefold.
- Online newspaper penetration more than tripled.
- 53% of surveyed users are regular users of social networking sites.
- 40% regularly read online newspaper.
To me, however, here’s the part that’s really interesting. This year’s research shows that growth in more established digital media services such as social networking and online newspapers sites is now being driven primarily by consumers older than age 45. That got my attention.
We think of older consumers as focused on print. We take older consumers for granted. Sure, tweens, teens, twenty- and thirty-somethings are focused on digital media, but — we tell ourselves — at least the more established pocketbooks and purchasing power still love print. At least they haven’t been lured by the siren of digital media.
Now they have.
So while IBM’s report talks about how the shift to lower-revenue digital media is creating a revenue shortfall, I’m stuck on the fact that we’re losing the 45+ age consumer to Facebook and Kindle. I actually had a conversation recently in which the last words I heard from this world-class, internationally known designer (over the age of 50) were, “Facebook me.”
In this industry, we talk a lot about multi-channel marketing. In reality, this is usually limited to direct mail to personalized URLs or a combination of email and print. “Multi-channel marketing” hasn’t yet really extended to online communities and other digital media.
If print is going to survive, it needs to. That means integrating print into the digital world in which consumers — including the 45+ consumers we’ve historically taken for granted — live. If you don’t know how to do that, you might want to bring someone on staff who does.