Who’s calling the shots on TikTok: Millennials or Gen Z?


Teens and young adults are using TikTok much more than Millennials, according to YPulse data. — AFP Relaxnews

Some recent media reports from the US may suggest that Millennials dominate TikTok. However, data from a YPulse survey paints an entirely different picture, where Millennials are far from being the driving force on TikTok, unlike Generation Z.

Some 72% of 13-17 year-olds and 71% of 18-24 year-olds are currently using TikTok, compared with only 45% of 25-39 year-olds, according to a recent report from YPulse. These figures suggest that Generation Z – representing the platform’s younger users – rules the app, in terms of usage, but also in terms of popularity and trends.

Teenagers aged 13 to 17 are the backbone of the TikTok community, having contributed to its exponential growth since 2019. Their behaviour on the app inspired the report “The TikTok Effect”, which explores how Generation Z uses the app compared to other platforms, and how it has become an essential part of their daily lives. This age group is also a driving force behind almost all the viral trends on TikTok.

Although 18-24 year-olds are often lumped together with Millennials, they are actually an integral part of Generation Z. For teens and young adults, TikTok is much more than just a social media platform: 48% of users aged 13-24 even say they are addicted to it.

Looking at TikTok use by true Millennials, the figures tell a different story. Only 45% of 25-39 year-olds use TikTok, which isn't even the majority. Among older Millennials, only 39% of 30-39 year-olds currently use the app.

So where does this misconception that TikTok users are predominantly Millennials come from? One reason could be the tendency to lump young adults and Millennials together, overlooking the distinct preferences and behaviors of young people at different stages of their lives. There is a marked difference between consumers in their early 20s and those aged 25-39, as YPulse data shows, and their use of TikTok is proof enough of why they shouldn't be lumped together.

The content ecosystem on TikTok is designed to cater to the preferences of its predominantly young user base. From viral dance challenges to sketch comedy and educational content, the platform offers a wide variety of content that resonates with younger audiences.

Millennial content exists, but Generation Z often puts its own spin on this. For example, young users are rediscovering older TV shows, bringing back into vogue series such as The Sopranos and movies from the 2000s. “So, just because Gen Z might enjoy the nostalgic vibe, it doesn’t mean they’re experiencing it the same way Millennials did,” explains the report.

The study also highlights the presence of influencers who belong to the Millennial generation on the Chinese platform, such as Emily Mariko and Jackie Aina, both followed by millions of users. But these “success stories” are not representative of all user preferences, the study points out.

Finally, it's worth mentioning tweens, aged 8 to 12. According to the YPulse report, 53% of them currently use TikTok, including 66% of 12-year-olds. The next generation is already well on the way to becoming TikTok's most active users. Although this age group uses YouTube more than any other social media platform, TikTok comes second. – AFP Relaxnews

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