March 13, 2017

Who’s on Snapchat: The Changing Age Demographics

Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., recently filed an IPO which has led to a lot of news about the company and its future. After a splash of a debut, investors became concerned about Snapchat’s growth relative to its competitors.

Demographics play a huge part in this. Snapchat is often dubbed the social network of choice for teenagers, but it’s easy to forget that there are other age groups also snapping.

Just who is on Snapchat?

Who’s Not on Snapchat

Let’s first start off with the demographics that aren’t really present. Unsurprisingly, marketers definitely shouldn’t focus their efforts on Snapchat if their audience is Generation X or the Baby Boomers. According to Hootsuite, in 2016 only 12% of Snapchat users were ages 35-54, and those older than that were a single digit percentage.

No surprise here. Snapchat isn’t going to become part of the daily social routines of older generations.

When you look at the demographics aged 34 and younger (the Millennials), then things get interesting. To start, more than half of new users are actually over 25 years old. In fact, this segment is growing twice as fast as users under 25. If you thought Generation Z was where the growth was happening, it’s actually the Millennials.

The Millennials

Similarly to Generation Z, Millennials primarily use the app to share stories and to send snaps to their closest friends and family. Variety surveyed Millennials on their snap habits, and most said they sent an average of 2-5 snaps per day. 73% of them sent snaps and stories among their closest peers, while 69% said they used the chat feature regularly.

For brands to note, only 54% of these users followed celebrities, 50% followed people they’d never met (e.g. influencers), and only 47% said they followed brands.

Business Insider also interviewed 18-26 year-olds about Snapchat. Interestingly, they all said they discovered and downloaded the app by word-of-mouth from their friends and family. They unanimously didn’t trust or plan to use Snapcash in preference of Venmo, and many said they were beginning to snap with their moms.

Millennial moms using Snapchat can be interesting for the future of Snapchat’s user makeup. Will Generation Z start to leave in droves as Mom starts sending them snaps and watching their stories? Without a doubt, marketers seeking to reach “cool moms” should see an opportunity here. This is a big change for Snapchat — its demographics are beginning to skew older.

Generation Z

While their growth may be stagnating, Generation Z (or “the teens”) still account for a majority of Snapchat users, but their habits and behaviors can be different from their Millennial counterparts. Marketers are definitely paying attention to this demo, as they account for $44 billion to the U.S. economy.

While Millennials grew up with the birth of the Internet, Generation Z grew up with the birth of social media. Despite a common misconception, Facebook is still the primary platform teens go to for family and friend communication, but Snapchat and Instagram are where they maintain their close relationships.

Snapchat drives life sharing from Generation Z, and FOMO (the “fear of missing out) is what fuels it. Most teens are snapping, sharing, and chatting with exclusive members of their social circles on the app. Things are casual on Snapchat (while behavior on Instagram tends to lean more toward emotional). Experts believe that the app virtually mimics face-to-face interaction, but users are not pressured to present a “perfect” version of themselves.

If teens are talking to their closest friends on the network, then where do brands come in?

Brands need to interact in order to be successful. They need to consume and create content similar to an actual Snapchat user. For example, running video ads among stories should feel like an integration and not an interruption.

Generation Z grew up with instant access to news and information, and exposure to world corruption, the recession, and global crises have molded their views and goals. They want to make the world a better place, and brands that can tune in to that internal desire to do good can strike a chord with this demographic.

In terms of medium, video consumption is important to teens. They’re still watching TV, but they watch internet video 2.5 times more. YouTube still dominates here (e.g. the popularity of YouTuber personalities), but Snapchat is definitely another platform for brands to get on board with.

Millennials and teens both present huge opportunities for marketers on Snapchat. While Snap Inc. may be under the microscope of the media for its decisions, it is important for marketers to plan and execute for this new wave of a changing Snapchat user base.


Tags: Data & Analytics, Snapchat, Trends

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