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Fox tops list
Fox, NBC and the Discovery Channel were named as the top three favorite TV networks of the group.
Conducted by the online marketing research firm InsightExpress of Stamford, Conn., the survey was conducted as part of this week's "TwentySomethings" special report published in the print edition of Advertising Age and here on AdAge.com (See .pdf downloads at left).
Straddle two groups
Demographically, twentysomethings (consumers aged 20 to 29) straddle two much-hyped generations -- their older members are part of Gen X and the younger set is in Gen Y. As a group, people in their 20s exhibit their own distinct attributes.
The AdAge/InsightExpress survey sought to poll a representative sample of 500 twentysomethings about a number of marketing issues, including their personal patterns of media usage. Among other things, particpants were asked to name their three favorite TV networks.
The ranking of top 10 networks that came out of this query included six cable networks and only two of the Big Three broadcasters that once dominated TV viewing: NBC and CBS. ABC did not make the top 10 but came in 11th. The top 10 favorites were:
|TWENTYSOMETHINGS' TOP RANKED TV NETWORKS|
|Percentages shown indicate how many individuals selected that network as one of their top three favorite networks.|
Unlike many in the marketing and advertising business, David Morrison, president of Twentysomething Inc., of Radnor, Pa., doesn't see this continuing media fragmentation as a negative as it relates to the twentysomethings target group.
"The fragmentation of cable is conducive to much more effective one-to-one marketing," he said, "and that's going to make brands more relevant, it's going to make your message ring much more true and it's going to provide a lot more opportunities for marketers to reach out and really create a relationship with their audience."
Demographic authorities also point out that twentysomethings have attributes ranging from an eagerness to adopt new technologies to a 9/11- and recession-bred concern for security. Add to that the influence of the Internet, cable TV and reality TV shows, this is group that cruises the fragmented media world with ease and doesn't mind being on either side of the camera lens.
"Everyone wants to be on camera. Everyone wants to be a celebrity. At the end of the day, that's what it is," said Doug Melville, the 26-year-old founder and CEO of URCute Entertainment, which stages college events then crams its urcute.com site with photos of attendees.
Reality TV impact
"Reality television changed everything because it said that being on the camera is the coolest thing you can do in the whole wide world. Everyone's doing it," said Mr. Melville, one of the twentysomething individuals featured in Ad Age's special report. Also, he noted, "since 9/11, everything that happens all the time is on video."
The U.S. Census Bureau reported there are 37.4 million Americans ages 20 to 29. For this group, Sept. 11 will remain a defining moment, the way Pearl Harbor was for their grandparents.
"Security is a big issue -- one of personal safety, one of what the future is going to hold," said
Mr. Morrison, the now 34-year-old president of Twentysomething Inc., founded his youth-market consultancy -- whose blue-chip clients have included McDonald's Corp., Conde Nast Publications and BBDO Worldwide -- in 1991 at the age of 22.
Twentysomethings are optimistic, but with a "hardened exterior," he said, and the war on terrorism has made them more receptive to Republican politicians, though these young people are still willing to listen to both parties.
"It's hard for them to not be bent toward Republicans," Mr. Morrison said. "Before 9/11 it was much more a liberal crowd that really didn't give that much thought to politics. They were very apolitical for the most part."
Along with that optimism, adults in their 20s seem to have plenty of money to spend. "The twentysomethings are unique in the sense that they have the discretionary income to try new things," Mr. Morrison said. "They're highly experimental at that point in time, and they have the freedom to do so."
In some cases, they have money to spend because of the dismal job market rather than despite it.
Moving back home
Consumers under age 30 spent $9,881 of their $30,811 in after-tax income on housing in 2001, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, those who lost their jobs and moved back in with the parents, while not drawing a salary, saved a bundle on housing.
Mr. Morrison cited 9/11 as another factor leading twentysomethings to move back in with the folks, as young people seek to live closer to family. This "boomerang effect" of moving back home doesn't have the same stigma as in the past, he said.
In its survey, InsightExpress found 25.3% of respondents said they live at home with parents; the next highest percentage, at 23.8%, was those who rent and live with roommates.