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Local Information Sources Vary by Age

In the “this is not a surprise but I still have to be reminded of it “ research category comes the latest findings by the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation called “How People Learn About Their Local Community“. In a nutshell, the study, which analyzes how people get their local information shows two rather distinct categories.

  • Young Internet consumers
  • Older “other media” consumers

While the lines blur in some areas it is pretty obvious that the digital divide is as much a function of age as it is economic. This first chart shows clearly the differences in how local information is taken in with regard to age group.

Once again, no real surprise but as a marketer in this era where you have equal parts those who have grown up on the Internet and those that have had it thrust upon them, it becomes critical to understand where different folks go for local data.

The rest of the report concentrates on breaking down different types of information and what outlets people use to get that information. This next chart shows where local TV coverage is the way to go. The categories where TV is the primary source for information tend to be the weightier ones of the day.

Turning our attention to what types of information are more Internet centric shows the lighter side of life.

Now a natural connection here would be that as people get older they pay attention to different things. That makes sense. What should be a shift we see in the next 20 or so years is the younger crowd turning their focus to more serious topics more (like politics) but still keeping the Internet as their primary vehicle for gathering this data.

We are living in a very transitional period of time with regard to information. Not since the advent of the television age has there been such a sea change with how information is disseminated. Many of today’s consumers (especially those with deep pockets due to their longer time in the work force) use what are being deemed more traditional methods of information consumption like TV and even, gulp, newspapers. It’s because of these consumption habits that it would be unwise for marketers to simply abandon “old school” media as a way to reach their markets.

There will come a time, however, when that group has moved on (ok, let’s just say it, they will die off) and marketers will have a more streamlined approach because the vast majority of people will be of the Internet Age and will not be using these older forms of media (at least not as much).

So where does this leave a marketer? Today, it’s in a pickle because budgets have to be split in many directions to appease the different groups habits as to where they gather and retrieve local information. There will be some relief as traditional media gives way to a wider Internet audience but by that time who knows what the latest and greatest way to get information will be? There will be something that comes along that will make today’s Internet look archaic. I have no idea what that might be but if there is one thing we can all count on as marketers it’s change.

What’s your favorite way to consume local information? Do you use different mediums for different types of information? Let us know with your comments!