While Millennials may get the lion’s share of media attention as early adopters of technology, a new report from Deloitte reveals that the generation’s older kin are just as hip to digital evolution.
According to the 12th edition of the professional services firm’s Digital Media Trends survey, the mobile consumption behaviors of Generation X (ages 35–51) now closely mirror those of Generation Z (ages 14–20) and Millennials (ages 21–34). In fact, Deloitte has coined a term for the combined group—Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X—as the “MilleXZials.”
Its survey explores generational habits of U.S. consumers amid shifting attitudes and behaviors that involve entertainment devices, advertising, media consumption, social media and the Internet. “With the proliferation of mobile devices, wireless connectivity and alternative digital media platforms, one thing has become clear: Consumers are increasingly in control,” says the Digital Media Trends study.
And regarding those “MilleXZials,” Deloitte notes: “Perhaps the most startling revelation of our survey is the emergence of Generation X as cutting-edge adopters of digital media, on par with Gen Z and Millennials. Whether it’s ownership of smart devices or subscriptions to streaming services, Gen X respondents are matching—and in some cases surpassing—the digital media behaviors typically associated with their younger counterparts.”
Generation X’s emergence as part of the MilleXZial category presents new-age media and entertainment companies with an enticing opportunity, Deloitte advises. Citing its own statistics, net wealth in the U.S. will grow from about $72 trillion in 2015 to $120 trillion by 2030—and notably, Generation X will experience the highest increase in share of national wealth through the forecast period, growing from under 14% of total net wealth in 2015 to nearly 31% by 2030.
“This means Gen X now blends digital savviness with relatively high and rising levels of disposable income—a dream scenario for providers of media and entertainment solutions,” the survey explains. “On the other hand, because Gen X consumers are watching more streaming services and watching video on mobile devices, it may be more challenging for pay TV providers to keep them in the fold.”
MilleXZials are also driving streaming, according to the Digital Media Trends study. In 2017, 70% of Gen Z households had a streaming subscription, followed by Millennial (68%) and Gen X (64%) households. Each week, about 70% of Gen Z and Millennials stream movies (compared with 60% of Gen X), and 69% of Gen Z stream TV shows (compared with 66% of Millennials and 55% of Gen X).
The increased streaming behavior of this multi-generational demo is “largely driven by a desire for high-quality, original video content, along with the ability to view this content whenever and wherever they want”—which should sound familiar to radio broadcasters as they continue to provide programming not only over the air, but via streaming, online, mobile and smart speakers.
This group is also increasingly seeking content from sources other than pay TV, according to Deloitte. In 2017, fewer than 60% of Millennial and Gen X households had a pay TV connection—as consumption of long-form content, including TV shows and movies, has increased via mobile platforms. “Wider availability of unlimited data plans and the increased number of OTT platforms may also be fueling this phenomenon,” the study suggests.
MilleXZials’ binge-watching behavior also experienced a “precipitous rise” in 2017, with 91% of Gen Z, 86% of Millennials and 80% of Gen X saying they binge-watch TV shows. Each of these percentages is higher than the average across all age groups (75%).
And finally, MilleXZials show dramatically increased consumption behavior in the area of gaming, particularly on smartphones. Nearly one-half of Gen X respondents play video games frequently (at least once a week), which almost matches Gen Z and Millennial respondents. Gen X now leads all generations in the amount of time they spend playing games on their smartphones.