Thought Leadership

Know your Audience

*This article was provided by YouGov, a PRSA partner.

Data driven insight is one of the most powerful tools in the world of communications.  Research is simply the most effective way to discover who is using your brand, to understand just how they are using those products and services, and to decipher how they feel about your brand.

Research insights are also one of the most effective way to generate media headlines and to sustain effective thought-leadership programs.

Boomers and Millennials are still the two most powerful demographic cohorts and as an example of the types of insight that you can generate into your target consumer groups we launched a special YouGov Generational Survey, looking into the media consumption and attitudes of these key consumer demographics, especially for the PRSA 2016 conference.


This first generation of mass consumerism ruled the world in the 1960s, and were raised on a brand new diet of mass media, Woodstock and microwaves in suburbia.  They are now feeling left behind and sidelined, and this really does not feel so good.

Boomers are struggling with the realization that the media content they are consuming is no longer all about them.  58% of American Boomers feel that they are poorly represented in the media and 60% don’t recognize themselves in the ads they are consuming.  More than half (52%) of the Boomers who feel under-represented suspect that their age is a reason for it.

This generation has many years of media content and dare we say product consumption left to enjoy, and many have the kind of spending power that makes this a most attractive audience.  This once proud cohort of consumers is feeling decidedly overlooked.

Hot buttons for Boomers

As Boomers begin to hover around or attain retirement age they still feel extremely proud of their generation’s legacy but are becoming more than a little anxious.  Once kings and queens of the hill, now nearly half of Boomers (49%) feel that society has left them behind.

Feeling unjustly under-represented Boomers are still extremely proud of their contribution to society.  Asked to look back with some perspective, from one hundred years in the future, more than half (53%) think that the Boomer Generation (compared to Generations X, Y and Z) will have made the biggest contribution to music, compared to 24% of Millennials who think the same of their own generation.  47% of Boomers see their contribution to Humanity as the biggest among the generations, compared to only 20% of Millennials of their own Gen Y.

Unsurprisingly health is a greater concern to Boomers than Millennials (17% v 10%).  They are also more concerned about Immigration (9% v 2%) and terrorism (16% v 9%). A massive 65% of Boomers fear that America is headed off on the wrong track.

Boomers are keenly aware of what is happening in the world with 77% watching or reading about current events every single day; Millennials (41%) are much less interested. Boomers are still reading their news in printed copies of newspapers (41%) and are avid TV news watchers (78%).  They are also much more likely to use traditional media for sports coverage – 49% go to TV for sports, 26% read about their teams in print newspapers.


Millennials have already surpassed Boomers as the largest living generation in the US and recognize themselves as the target of much in the media.  Unlike the majority of Boomers only 39% of Millennials feel under-represented in the media, and 40% in advertising. Those who feel under-represented are more likely to attribute this to their socio-economic class (35%) or occupation (30%) than to their age (21%).

Media Consumption.

Much has been written about the digital generation, and this study confirms that Millennials are not constrained by traditional media.  More than one third (35%) of Millennials have never purchased a print copy of a newspaper.  Only 41% watch / read about current events daily and 59% rely on social media as a current events news source.

Millennials dominate streaming consumption with 32% consuming streaming content once a day or more compared to 12% of Boomers.

Hot Buttons for Millennials.

Money is the main concern for Millennials with a quarter (25%) citing financial worries as their biggest fear or concern. This compares to 17% of Boomers.

Millennials dream big, and dream wide. 43% admit to having dreamt of saving the world compared to only 21% of Boomers.  Nearly a quarter (24%) has dreamt of winning a talent contest TV show – again compared to a scant 8% of Boomers.

Millennials seem to be even more enamored of puppies and kittens than their Boomer counterparts. 42% check in for an update on cute pets and animals once a week or more (compared to 36% of Boomers).  50% have heard of Grumpy Cat (39% for Boomers) and 31% have heard about Harambe (only 7% of Boomers).

And finally a quarter (25%) of Millennials are still checking in to read Kardashian news once a week or more.  Boomers not so much (10%).

*This article was provided by YouGov, a PRSA partner.

Anne Gammon heads up the US Omnibus and Quick Turnaround research unit within YouGov. She has over 7 years of experience in both qualitative and quantitative market research. Prior to heading up the US Omnibus unit she specialized in non-profit consulting research in the UK.

About the author

Anne Gammon

1 Comment

Leave a Comment