When It Comes To Leisure Time, Watch Out For The Generation Gap

When It Comes To Leisure Time, Watch Out For The Generation Gap A goal of any marketer or media planner is to reach the target audience where they live, being present in a part of their life where they'll see your marketing message. One popular approach is to reach consumers of any age while they are relaxed. At play. Not stuck in the daily grind. Receptive to fresh thoughts.

Marketing to Boomers, and all generations, while "at play" makes sense for many marketers. We thought we'd dig into current leisure time activities to see if we could uncover any similarities or differences.

As they say in London, mind the gap.

Twice a year, our strategic partner, BIGresearch of Worthington, Ohio, fields its Simultaneous Media Usage Study (SIMM Study) among 24,000 adults 18 and older. This syndicated study provides a tool for understanding the inter-relationships of consuming multiple media simultaneously (ever watch TV while on the computer, or reading a magazine?). The SIMM Study helps determine what works in your media mix to actually get someone's attention.

One of their set-up questions is "What are some of your favorite ways of spending your free, leisure time? (Check all that apply.)"

When sorted by generation, we see that the four dominant generations in the U.S. today are worlds apart when it comes to leisure time.

RankSilent 66-85 Boomers 47-65 Gen X 30-46 Millennials 18-29
1Watch TV Watch TV Watch TV Watch TV
2 Eat Out Eat Out Eat Out Go To Movies
3 Read Books Listen to Music Go to Movies Listen to Music
4 Read Magazines/
Newspapers
Read Books Surf the Internet Surf the Internet
5 Travel Surf the Internet Listen to Music Play Video Games
>50%  Travel Read Books Eat Out
>50%   Rent Movies Go Shopping
>50%    Rent Movies
>50%    Email/IM/Blog
Generational analysis of BIGresearch SIMM December 2010 by the Boomer Project, 2011

We simply ranked the top five answers by generation, and then included any others on the list that more than half of the respondents had selected.

Here are a half dozen takeaways for us:

1. TV is still king. You want to reach across all generations? Run TV ads. Now, you'll have to be selective where, but it remains the mass marketer's ideal venue.

2. Don't invest in any publishing stocks. The youngest generation isn't reading books for leisure -- print or digital. The future is not in smearing ink on pieces of dead trees.

3. Music still matters to Boomers. Tom Hanks was once about the role of TV in his formative years. He said, "TV? Let me tell you about TV: TV told us what time it was. Music, on the other hand, told us what to feel." Boomers at age 47 to 65 rank "listening to music" higher than Generation Xers.

4. Hollywood movies have succeeded in scaring away older viewers. "Go to Movies" is a top activity for both Millennials and Gen Xers. Hollywood asserts that's why it makes movies appealing to the 20something set. We assert it is the effect of Hollywood's movies, not the cause. Example: "Sideways." Boomers over 50 saw it in droves.

5. The Internet is a part of the leisure time landscape now and forever more. Keep in mind that the generations use it differently. For Boomers, it's more for research and planning than entertainment and socializing. The opposite is the case for younger generations.

6. Multitasking is a young person's game. Only five activities were mentioned by more than 50% of the Silent Generation. Only six for Boomers, seven for Gen Xers. But Millennials mentioned nine activities.

The Boomer Bottom Line: Connecting with any audience works best when you demonstrate you understand their lives and can offer empathy. Staying abreast of current leisure activity trends helps marketers reach any age.

Note: Boomers enjoy "cooking" and "socializing with friends" as much as the younger generations. And they outscore Gen Xers, who are now becoming homeowners and parents, when it comes to things like "home improvement projects" and "gardening."

Thanks to the recent unpleasantness in the economy, we're also not surprised that tapped-out Boomers score highest for "going to casinos for gambling."

C'mon, lucky seven!

Tags: baby boomers
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3 comments about "When It Comes To Leisure Time, Watch Out For The Generation Gap ".
  1. Stephan Little , May 9, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.

    Great stuff (as usual) Matt!

  2. Jim Thomas from Journal Broadcast Group , May 9, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.

    Great points, especially the emotional bonding. People continue to look for ways to connect and you've pointed out a great path, no matter the audience.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , May 9, 2011 at 1:48 p.m.

    Justified. And you know what happens to civilizations where its people do not read ?