Carat, Maxim Identify New Species: Young Male Media Animals

by , Jul 26, 2004, 12:00 AM
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Younger men are downloading, gaming, and IM-ing constantly, consuming a more divergent media menu just as many marketers suspect. And while traditional media like good, old-fashioned TV still has a prominent place in their lives, the younger the men are, the stronger their bonds are with digital media. These were just a few of several interesting findings from a new spate of consumer media research released Monday by media shop Carat in conjunction with laddie magazine Maxim.

The study, dubbed, "Media Animals: Young Men's Usage of and Attitudes Toward Media," incorporated findings from two, 500-person panels (one composed of Maxim subscribers) and found that men 18 to 34 haven't given up traditional media despite the numerous new media options at their disposal.

And despite the group's celebrated passion for video games, 80 percent of respondents would choose to keep TV if they were forced to give up one or the other.

These guys even claim to rely on TV advertising. Seven in 10 men (69 percent) surveyed said a TV commercial would be their first choice in getting their attention for a new gadget, while other media scored much lower in this category (magazine ads were cited by just 21 percent of respondents, radio commercials by 17 percent, while newspaper ads, e-mails, banners, and text messages registered at less than 10 percent).

More than half (56 percent) consider network TV advertising to be a major source of staying informed, though they would rather not be interrupted (66 percent of respondents prefer a television show that has multiple product placements and no commercial breaks).

"TV is a very powerful medium," said Michelle S. Lynn vice president and associate director of consumer strategies, Carat Insight. "We should not be too quick to write off traditional media."

Last fall, TV executives panicked when ratings among younger men plummeted. At the time, many griped about Nielsen's methodology, though some claimed that the lack of programming directed at this group was causing the decline. Carat's study would appear to support the later theory - men will watch when catered to.

That dynamic seems to be a consistent thread in these young men's consumption habits - getting what they want, when they want it. It appears that young men do not consume traditional media as routinely as previous generations may have, but as an appointment. "Content is definitely driving media decisions," Lynn said. That means tuning in for a particular sporting event or reality show, or going online to seek something specific.

This behavior likely differs by age and life stage, for despite being fairly precise by Madison Avenue standards, the 18 to 34 demographic may be too broad to generalize about. Carat finds that the media habits of 18- to 24-year-olds are markedly different than the upper reaches of that demographic, driven by the prominence of technology for these men during their formative years.

"What is interesting about this age group is that it crosses over two generations: Generation X and Generation Y," Lynn said. "You can't really group them together. Their media habits are very different. As an industry we have to look closer."

This group is known for multitasking, particularly when consuming media (while surfing the Internet, 69 percent simultaneously engage in other media-related activities). But Lynn is unsure what this habit truly represents. "Are they splitting attention or doing things simultaneously?" she asks. "It will be interesting to see what strategies come out of this [from marketers]."

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