Gender and Age Consumption Differs in Evolving Media Usage Patterns

According to a new consumer trend report from TargetCast tcm, among American adults between the ages of 18-64, the future of traditional media, particularly newspapers, magazines and radio, is challenged by the rapid migration of hard-to-reach consumer groups to digital alternatives. However, when it comes to purchase influence on consumers, traditional media remains more influential when compared to digital advertising.

The study reveals a divide between men and women in how each gender engages with traditional media, and illustrates how a generational divide is affecting purchase influence among adults.

Peter Sedlarcik, SVP, Director of Insights and Analytics at TargetCast tcm, says "... marketers must take into account the evolving media preferences of specific target audiences... yet, while many may declare print media is dead... findings show that marketing messages in newspapers and magazines still score well in terms of consumer attentiveness and purchase influence."

Key findings: 

  • Men and women are consuming media differently. Men are more likely than women to indicate that printed news is a less relevant source of news and information
  • Newspapers and magazines are not considered as relevant today and are easiest to eliminate from usage, yet score well in terms of attentiveness and purchase influence
  • The biggest usage declines were found among men and young adults 18-34 in newspapers, magazines and radio
  • TV and Internet, respectively, identified as most important media, though young adults 18-34 rank the internet as more important than TV

60% of consumers say newspapers need to change the most to stay relevant, compared to 30% for magazines and nearly 20% for radio. Fewer than 10% feel that TV or the Internet needs to change to stay relevant. Nevertheless, those ages 35+ still consider newspaper ads to be more influential in determining their purchase decisions.

The majority of adults 18-64 report that they are still using the same amount of each medium today as they were a year ago, however nearly a third say they are using less printed media (newspapers and magazines). Conversely, a third or more also report that they are using the Internet more as both a source of information and entertainment.

Compared to a year ago would you say you are currently using the following media more, about the same or less? (Adults 18-64)


Using More

About the Same


















Internet (information)




Internet (entertainment)




Source: TargetCast tcm, October 2009

The data reveals a split between men and women in terms of the way each gender engages with traditional media and embraces newer media. In general, men are more willing to adapt their usage habits to incorporate more digital and online platforms as replacements for traditional media. On the other hand, women are more likely to hold strong with the traditional media and are more hesitant to embrace newer media.

The study also indicated that there is a marked generational difference in attention to digital media between adults ages 18-34 and adults and those older than age 35:

  • Adults ages 18-34 are more likely to have replaced newspapers and magazines with internet content, while adults older than 25 are more likely to consider magazines and newspapers as valuable sources of information
  • Adults ages 18-24 are more likely to say radio is not as relevant and that they prefer reading magazines online. This age group also indicates they don't mind watching ads when watching TV programs online
  • Adults aged 18-34 are more likely than other consumer groups to consider advertising on the internet influential in their purchase decision

40% of Adults 18-64 say that they prefer the experience of reading printed newspapers over online news sources. Additionally, newspapers score well both in terms of ad attentiveness and purchase influence. However, when asked if they'd rather get news from online sources than from printed newspapers, the percentage of those who agreed vs. disagreed was about the same. And, people do not feel that newspapers are more trustworthy than online sources.

72% of consumers expect that sourcing the newspaper online should be free, and not willing to pay for an online newspaper subscription to replace their printed newspapers subscription.

A solid 57% say they prefer the experience of reading a printed magazine over reading a magazine on the Internet. An even stronger 71% would not be willing to pay for an online magazine subscription to replace their printed magazine subscription. Also, only 15% of respondents overall agree that they'd rather read magazines online. Additionally, printed magazines score well in terms of ad attentiveness and purchase influence.

41% of those surveyed indicate that radio is still relevant in today's media environment. According to respondents, radio provides a great venue to discover new music that cannot be experienced elsewhere. And, respondents overall prefer to listen to music through the radio station vs. Internet stations or on their mp3 player.

In summary, the report concludes that monitoring the pulse of consumer sentiment is a critical component of working toward a better understanding of the future of all media. Understanding the changing nature of how people now consume media may allow the media industry to reclaim the intimate relationship between the reader and their brands. The report notes that:

  • Newspapers have a legacy of breaking news and uncovering stories of historic proportion, yet they are losing ground to a generation of consumers embracing digital and mobile alternatives
  • Established magazines, often iconic brands, have begun to lose advertiser support after years of consistent readership and inspiring content
  • Over the past 100 years radio has been a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. However, after surviving the challenges of broadcast TV, the emergence of cable and the launch of the Internet, radio is slowly being tuned out by a generation addicted to personal, programmable MP3 players, iPods, iPhones and other multi-media devices
  • While many will continue to use traditional and new media as much as they have in the past, it is important to understand the shifting relationship between how men and women and different generations will consume media in the future so the industry can evolve these media in a way that is relevant and impactful to consumers

For more information about the study, please visit TargetCast here.

1 comment about "Gender and Age Consumption Differs in Evolving Media Usage Patterns".
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  1. Tim Holmes from Cardiff University, October 20, 2009 at 9:36 a.m.

    I'm not quite sure what this tells us, but it is certainly food for thought.

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