Young adults are a crucial segment for businesses and advertisers. As the 18-24-year-old demographic expands faster than any other young age group, so does its viewing and purchasing power. Today’s 17-year-olds will play a significant role in the young adult segment of the future, which is why it’s crucial to get to know them now in order to better understand who they’ll be tomorrow.
Today’s teens and young adults are quite the multicultural bunch—with purchasing power to boot. In fact, the 12-17, 18-24 and 25-34 groups are almost identically multicultural, as 42 percent of each comprises Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. This is only the tip of the iceberg—U.S. Census data shows that African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics will generate the vast majority of the U.S. population growth over the next few decades.
Teens have serious purchase potential. In 2012, 29 percent of U.S. teens lived in high-income homes ($100k+), while only 25 percent of young adults lived in households within this same income bracket. There were also more teen households with middle incomes ($30k-$100k) than those of young adults. Finally, fewer teens lived in lower-income homes ($30k) than their slightly older counterparts.
Within teen households, smartphones and tablets are growing faster than any other device. From Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, smartphone penetration increased by 45 percent among teens, 32 percent among adults 18-24 and 22 percent among adults 25-34.
Laptop penetration increases as teens age into young adulthood, but begins to decline when young adults enter their late 20s. Laptop penetration is highest among young adults, but all three age groups (12-17, 18-24, 25-34) have increased their laptop ownership over the past year.
Though young adults view most content on television, they are increasing their video watching on other devices. According to Nielsen’s Fourth-Quarter 2012 Cross-Platform Report, all consumers under the age of 34 increased their video consumption via mobile and the Internet from Q4 2011 to Q4 2012.
While everyone under 34 is spending less time in front of the TV, viewing preferences aren’t consistent across the 12-17, 18-24 and 25-34 year old groups. For example, teens like to watch on mobile more than anyone else. In fact, they watched 18 percent more video on their mobile phones than persons 18-24 and 46 percent more than persons 25-34, in Q4 2012. While teens are watching more content on mobile devices, they watch less video online than young adults. In fact, persons 18-24 spent almost 3 times more time watching video on the Internet than teens 12-17 in Q4 2012.
So, do young consumers change their viewing habits as they age? While consumers may watch less mobile video after the age of 17, young adults 18-24 and 25-34 have increased their mobile video consumption over the course of the past year. The same can be said for internet video viewership among young adults past the age of 24.
Notably, adults 25-34 spent the most total combined time watching content on TV, online, and mobile in Q4 2012, viewing 19 hours and 30 minutes more content per month than ages 18-24 and 40 hours and 54 minutes more than ages 12-17 across all three devices. These combined trends suggest that teens will continue to view content on mobile and the internet as they age.
“Given their changing lifestyles, the resulting dynamic nature of teens affects their device ownership and usage,” says Peter Katsingris, Vice President Industry Insights. “As teens’ situations change and they leave the home or become more independent adults, they’ll likely go from using shared family devices to carrying personal devices with them, such as smartphones or laptops. As platforms become more pervasive, increased access and connectivity will surely affect the consumption behaviors of both teens and young adults in years to come.”