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Snapchat is not just for millennials


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

February 28, 2017 | 3 min read

EMarketer finds that Snapchat’s growth has momentum in its favor, increasingly with generation X, with as much as 10% of its audience aged 45 and older, although Facebook-owned Instagram is likely to remain the larger of the two before 2021.


Snapchat's user growth before 2021 is expected to be fueled by those aged 35 and over

With Facebook well into its second decade, Snapchat is seemingly the social network of choice for the mobile-first generation, but that’s not necessarily a true reflection of its audience, according to research from eMarketer.

With Snapchat poised to make the biggest tech initial public offering (IPO) in years later this year, potential investors are analyzing just about every aspect of its key performance indicators (KIPs), with advertisers just as eager to learn more about its audience and projected growth.

Data released today (28 February) saw the Axel Springer-owned research house increase its earlier usage projections by more than 5%, forecasting that 70.4 million Americans will regularly use the platform this year.

US usage of the platform will jump 14.2% compared with last year, with growth continuing through to 2021 when its total user base is expected to hit 89.2 million, with users aged between 35 and 54 expected to provide the bulk of the growth during the forecast period (see chart immediately below).

Snapchat US user numbers

This year, 6.4% of Snapchat’s users will be between 45 and 54, more than the 4.2% previously projected, while projections for users up to age 24 have been decreased slightly, as competition from rival Instagram heats up.

In a post entitled Older Americans drive larger-than-expected Snapchat growth, eMarketer analyst Jaimie Chung said the usage trends are largely the result of a shift in the primary use case of Snapchat.

“Older groups are now more likely to tune in for content. The platform has multiple partnerships with television networks for mini episodes. Meanwhile, the younger groups are less likely to add Snapchat when Instagram Stories can fulfill their broadcasting needs,” added Chung.

Later in the post Chung, who specializes in developments with Instagram, went on to stipulate that more mature Instagram audiences are also pulling away, even if Snapchat close-in the gap between the two’s respective user base in 2016 (see chart immediately below).

eMarketer Instagram

“In 2016, Snapchat closed the gap considerably, lagging behind Instagram by just 6.8 million users,” wrote Chung.

“But eMarketer expects that gap to steadily widen through 2021, when Instagram will have 9.5 million more users than Snapchat. This year, Snapchat will capture 36.8% of US social network users, compared with Instagram’s 40.3%.”

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