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Snapchat's interest in older users: Is it worth alienating the youth?

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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has his eyes on the older demographic in 2019, he says. According to Spiegel, he said that most of the incremental growth in markets such as US, UK and France come from older users and older users generate higher average revenue per user.Currently, eMarketer quotes Snapchat's core demographic as 18 to 24 year olds (93.5%), followed by 12-17 year olds (92.2%) in the US. This is followed by 25-34 year olds, seeing a sharp dip at 56.4%. In fact, according to eMarketer, in 2016, Snapchat surpassed Facebook as the most popular social network among US teens. The report said Snapchat will continue to add users ages 12 to 17, while Facebook will continue to lose users in that cohort. In fact, eMarketer actually estimated Snapchat will add 1.2 million new users in that age group by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million."Snapchat has been more popular than Instagram among US teens for years. In 2018, 16.4 million 12- to 17-year-olds will use Snapchat, compared with 12.8 million for Instagram. Snapchat will remain dominant among teen users through 2022," the report said.Keeping this in mind, Prashant Kumar, senior partner, Entropia, said by no means should Snap abandon its younger audience given its core product is designed for younger audience.No, to the older demographic"I don't think Snapchat should target older age group," he said, adding:Young people don’t want to use a platform designed for older people. And older people love to use platform designed for young.He added, "Entropia insights show that people below 18 years of age, want to get to around 18. And people older than 18 or so want to stay 18. So there is an acceleration of maturity and a postponement of maturity. 18 is the epicentre of youth."He added that the platform should not suddenly shift all of its focus on to an older demographic. Rather, it should look to include older people in terms of value proposition.Include, don’t focus.What the platform needs to do to target the older demographic is essentially extend its core value proposition and make it relevant to their lives. But a balance needs to be struck so as not to become irrelevant to its core. "Lifestage expansion of catchment area is one way to expand, but not the only way. It could also work on expanding relevance to more and more occasions in the young people’s lives. Ideally, it should move from connections to content to commerce," he added.  Yes, to the older demographicJan Mascarina, senior internal marketer, Construct Digital said that with this new direction, Snapchat could look to target those 35 and above - historically its weakest demographic. He added that this demographic values segmentation of sponsored and influencer feeds from that of their friends - instead of something more integrated such as Facebook or Instagram. They also prefer user-friendly straightforward apps that are more intuitive, over gimmicky and or fancy UX.Given that these are moves that Snapchat has been making on its app in the last few updates, moving to segment what users see, and how they experience the app, the group could be an ideal choice for Snap.Mascarina added that layout or UX changes "are the ire of the internet" and every time a major app or platform changes how users use or interact with the app, more often than not, there is a furor of people decrying the move.  The older generation is not exempt from this. This is why instead of major updates, behemoths such as Facebook tend to make frequent but small incremental updates so as not to 'shock' the user with something drastically different, he explained."The same holds true for Snapchat. Whether or not it chooses to change its layout, it has to do so treading carefully between regular and learned user behaviour - and their own organisational objectives," he added. But while this could be a potential growth avenue for Snapchat, the platform will be faced with insurmountable challenges such as re-education to a segment who may still remember and reduce Snapchat as the youth's app.Speaking to Marketing, head of social media & outreach, Lion and Lion, Niniek Sugiarti said that to attract older users, Snapchat has to advance the platform by adding beauty filters which can be shared outside of the app, as well as integrate e-commerce and content.However, also addressing that Snapchat's redesign compromised its core value, Sugiarti said that the app could use buttons for navigation on its app compared to its "slide and swipe" function. Calling the move one that is challenging, Sugiarti said Snap needs to be ready for the fact that older target audiences have a slower adoption rate compared to the younger audience.(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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