Corporate Eye

The Generation Gap Among Digital Consumers Is Getting Bigger

smartphone digital consumerThe generation gap among digital consumers in the U.K. keeps getting bigger according to new research from Ofcom.

Every day, more people consume more digital media, content, and communications. The research found that the average U.K. adult spends over half of their waking hours engaged in some kind of media or communications activity. The use of multi-screen multi-tasking by 99% of U.K. adults enables them to conduct 11 hours of communications and media activities in less than nine hours each day. And U.K. adults’ media and communications consumption will continue to grow.

The Ofcam study found that U.K. adults spend an average of 3 hours and 52 minutes watching television each day and an average of 3 hours and 3 minutes listening to the radio each day. 97% of U.K. homes have digital TV and 48% of U.K. radio listeners have a DAB radio in their households.

Online and mobile content consumption continues to grow, too. The study found that 82% of U.K. households have Internet access and 93% of U.K. adults have mobile phones. 61% of mobile phone users have smartphones, and 16% of U.K. households are now mobile-only, meaning they no longer have landline telephones. The average mobile subscriber in the U.K. sends 169 text messages per month. On the other hand, the average residential consumer receives fewer than nine pieces of mail in the post each week and sends fewer than seven pieces per month.

Ofcam surveyed U.K. adults and children and found that the “Digital Day” is very different for adults over the age of 24 compared to young people under the age of 24. As you’d expect, younger people spend far less time listening to the radio each day than older adults and view less television each day than older adults.

Following are a few findings from the study about the digital consumer generation gap that brand marketers should be aware of as they develop their marketing initiatives:

  • Young people between the ages of 16-24 spend as much time engaging in text communications as they do watching television whereas older people spend more time watching television.
  • Young people spend half of their time “watching” media viewing live television (i.e., not viewed from a DVR), while older adults spend more than two-thirds of their “watching” time viewing live television.
  • Young people spend 65% more time using social media each day than older adults.
  • Young people spend 163% more time using their smartphones each day than older adults.
  • Young people are three times more likely to get their news online than older adults.

The digital consumer generation gap gets even bigger when you look at the habits of children. Ofcam found that smartphones are the most used device (after television sets) among children between the ages of 12 and 15, and tablets are the most used device (after television sets) among children between the ages of six and eleven.

Understanding the media habits of U.K. consumers is critical to ensuring your marketing campaigns get in front of the right audiences at the right times. Make sure you consider these digital media consumption trends before you invest in a marketing campaign that won’t drive the return on investment you need.

Image: Highways Agency licensed CC BY 2.0

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.