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Social media dominates as destination of choice as Millennials shape our future media habits

Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2016

15 August 2016: Social media is the dominant force across our media consumption behaviours, according to the fifth edition of Deloitte’s annual Media Consumer Survey. It is not only impacting our entertainment preferences and how we consume news, but for the first time social reviews and recommendations have outstripped TV advertising in terms of their influence on buying decisions.

Immersive formats and new technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), along with the ability to curate, stream and pay for content to avoid adverts, are also influencing our habits, seeing us more immersed and paying more attention.

The survey also looks at the Millennial effect - the distinct media consumption habits of younger age groups – and how this trailblazing demographic is paving the way.

The social hegemony is here, trending across all ages and aspects of our lives

Social is a media super power for all age groups in Australia, with 84% of us engaged with social media networks, two thirds of us interacting with social media every day and 27% of us checking our accounts four or more times a day.

Deloitte Consulting Digital Strategy Leader and co-author of the report, Niki Alcorn said: “Not only has social media become an entertainment activity in its own right, it is now our number one digital destination. We spend 21% of our digital entertainment time on social media - creating, reading or commenting on content, uploading photos and videos or writing reviews - with women spending slightly more time (25% of their digital entertainment time) in social domains than men (17%).”

Not all social networks are created equal

The fastest rise in usage of social media over the last five years has been amongst Boomers and Matures, but as they catch up the younger generations are moving on.

“92% of survey respondents are on Facebook. But as all age groups converge at this destination, Millennials are heading to newer, more mobile and image focused networks, such as Instagram and Snapchat. Snapchat is almost exclusively being used by Millenials, with usage dropping away significantly over the age of about 30. Disposability of content also plays a role in this shift, the younger generations are enjoying real-time shared moments with the benefit of more private content that doesn’t live on in perpetuity online,” Alcorn said.

News and views influenced by social

The proportion of survey respondents using social media as their primary source of news has doubled to almost 1 in 5 (up from 9% in 2015), now outstripping the frequency with which we use newspapers - both online and print. And among Millenials, social media is now the primary source of news.

Ms Alcorn noted that, while word of mouth remains the primary influencer on purchase decisions for three quarters of respondents, we have reached the tipping point for the digital equivalent.

“More respondents (58%) have ranked ‘reviews from people within their social media circles’ in their top three influencers for buying decisions than television adverts (55% of respondents),” she said.

“This is the first time this has happened - and notably the influence of advertising on purchase decisions has fallen for the first time in four years. Adverts on social media are also influencing us more than ever, with a 17% CAGR increase over the last four years in people’s perceptions of them having a high or medium influence on their purchasing decisions.”

Immersing ourselves in a virtual, curated, ad free future

It’s not just social media keeping us engaged. 2016 has seen an increase in the popularity and adoption of more immersive forms of content and technologies that enhance our media consumption experience – from going to the cinema to streaming, live video and VR.

TV still No.1 for viewing

Using the internet (up to 60% in 2016 from 47% in 2012) is on par with watching TV as our number one entertainment activity. But despite the plethora of devices, platforms and options available to us, live TV is still our preferred viewing method, accounting for 42% of total viewing time.

Deloitte Financial Advisory Leader Clare Harding said: “TV may still be number one, but streaming is hot on the heels of live programming, accounting for almost a quarter of our viewing time, up from 18% last year.”

Content – when paying, we’re paying attention

Subscription video on demand (SVOD) hit the Australian market in a big way with the introduction of three new services last year. This is reflected in the survey, with the number of people paying for SVOD almost doubling since 2015, up to 22%.

“It’s still early days for SVOD in Australia, with respondents experimenting with what these subscriptions have to offer. In order to access their desired content, 18% of SVOD subscribers have more than one service, with two-thirds of multi-subscribers expecting to maintain two or more services in the future,” said Harding.

Video is not the only content we’re willing to pay for in order to get what we want. The majority of us remain reluctant to pay for online news subscriptions – just 9% are willing to do so, which has been stable over the last three years. However, where consumers are willing to pay, it’s because they are looking for more in-depth news analysis (52%). This desire for more detail has increased significantly from 33% last year, replacing ‘trust and association with the brand’ as the most compelling reason to pay.

Harding also noted that while more of us are choosing to pay for the content we want, we’re still multi-tasking, in fact more than ever.

“88% of us are multi-tasking whilst watching TV, up from 60% in 2012. Having said that, either because we’re more immersed in the content or because the smartphone does so much for us, we are using fewer devices when multi-tasking – down from two to one this year.

“Our increased comfort in paying for video content, as illustrated by the uptake of SVOD subscriptions, may also be influencing our multi-tasking behaviours – 70% of respondents believe they pay closer attention to content that they have paid to watch.”

VR: about to get real

Deloitte’s 2016 TMT Predictions report highlighted that VR would enjoy its first billion dollar year globally in 2016. This year’s Media Consumer Survey revealed that with only 4% of respondents in Australia owning a VR headset there is still a long way to go. But this could be all set to change, with the majority of respondents (58%) believing VR will enhance media experiences and 10% intending to buy a headset in the coming year.

“We’re seeing more and more applications of VR hit the market, both in the commercial space and in-home entertainment, and the recent phenomenom of Augmented Reality game Pokemon Go illustrates the desire to adopt these new technologies. Stated purchase intent for VR is around the same level as it was for fitbands and smartwatches when they first became available, which are now at penetration rates of 21% and 11% respectively,” said Harding.

Advertising, interrupted

Another facet of our desire to immerse ourselves in entertainment, is our willingness to pay for content in exchange for not being interrupted by adverts.

“People not only want the freedom to choose the content they watch, they are willing to pay for it to enjoy an advert free viewing experience. Almost half of us (48%) would pay to watch movies in exchange for not being exposed to adverts, whilst 43% would pay for TV shows to avoid them,” said Harding.

“When it comes to streaming services, respondents’ willingness to view adverts is diminishing (50% in 2016 down from 58% in 2015), even if it significantly reduced the cost of the subscription. And in the digital domain, ad blockers are giving consumers the power to shut out ‘interruptions,’ with 28% of respondents now using ad blocking software.”

Advertising remains a key influencer of our buying decisions, although the channels of influence are changing.

“For the first time in four years TV advertisements have fallen in the rankings, with 55% of respondents this year compared to 63% last year, perceiving them to have a high or medium influence on buying decisions.

“And in the growing digital advertising market, social platforms for the first time are seen as being as influential as search, with 40% of respondents identifying these among digital advertising channels as having the greatest influence on their purchasing decisions,” said Harding.

Millennials are shaping future media consumption behaviours

Looking to where our preferences may head, all eyes are firmly on Australia’s largest demographic - Millennials.

“Millennials are traditionally early adopters when it comes to technology, which in turn shapes their media consumption behaviours. We’re definitely seeing this reflected in this year’s survey, with higher rates of bingeing, multi-tasking and moving to devices other than the TV to consume content,” said Deloitte Telecommunications, Media and Technology Leader, Stuart Johnston.

Millennials are leading the social media revolution, their use outstripping all other age groups, with 84% of Leading Millennials (27-32) and 77% Trailing Millennials (14-26) being daily users of social networks.

“29% of Millennials use social media as their primary source of news, compared to only 12% of other respondents. But we’re now seeing this trend play out among other generations, with 20% of Gen Xers using social as their primary news source this year, compared to just 6% in 2015.”

Millennials are also leading the uptake of SVOD services, with 35% subscribing to a streaming service compared to 14% of other respondents. Across the board a higher proportion of bingeing occurs amongst those with SVOD subscriptions, with 74% of Millennials bingeing compared to 50% of other respondents.

“If other age groups continue to follow Millennials’ lead we will find ourselves being entertained more on the internet – already the number one entertainment activity for Millennials. And when we are watching TV content it will more likely be via a streaming service than live programming, with 32% of Millennials preferring this method compared to 16% of other age groups,” said Johnston.

About the survey

  • The Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2016 provides a snapshot of the way consumers interact with media, entertainment, technologies and information across 5 categories: Entertainment; Devices: Social; Books, Magazines and News; and Advertising.
  • The demographics of the five groups surveyed are Millennials (trailing and leading 14-26; 27-32); Xers (33-49); Boomers (50-68); and Matures (69+).
  • Using self-reported survey data, the research was undertaken by an independent organisation between March and April 2016.
  • The online survey was delivered in Australia, the USA and Norway, with more than 2000 consumers surveyed in Australia.
  • Where provided, growth rates reflect compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) over time.
  • Deloitte’s telecommunications, media and technology experts, who work every day with leading Australian companies, added their insights and analysis to the report.

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