Snapchat isn’t just for kids anymore: study

The platform is growing in popularity among every age demo in the U.S., with some groups catching on at higher rates than teens.
June 13, 2016

No one has to say it anymore: Snapchat is huge, it’s growing and fast becoming a must-have for brands looking to reach digital-native teenagers and young millennials who’ve traditionally flocked to the platform.

But new research from eMarketer has found that Snapchat is no longer just for kids. The platform — where photos, video and text last only 24 hours — is quickly gaining ground among every age demographic in the U.S., including (gasp) mom and dad.

Between 2015 and 2016, the biggest increase in adoption came from the 25 to 34-year-old crowd, with 4.5 million new users in that age demo joining the platform in the past year (a 39.8% increase).

However, the 45 to 45 age group saw the next biggest increase, up 600,000 (35.2%). Falling just behind, the 35 to 44 demo saw an increase of 1.1 million (29%).

Currently, 13.6 million million 12 to 17-year-olds and 20 million 18 to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, both up 20% from last year, according to the study.

In total, eMarketer estimates that Snapchat boasts 58.6 million users in the U.S.Snapchat Ages

The survey predicts consistent growth across all demographics over the next four years, with the 25 to 34 crowd eventually using the platform just as much as their peers age 18 to 24 (both at 25 million users by 2020).

Snapchat isn’t the first social network to skew older over time. Despite its early days as a college-only platform and its initial popularity among teens, Facebook has become more popular with Gen X and boomers in recent years. A 2015 report by Pew Research found that Facebook usage was fairly even among adults, with 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 years on the platform, 79% of those 30 to 49, 64% of those 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older.

Cathy Boyle, principal analyst at eMarketer, said the formula for Snapchat’s success is in the short-lived nature of the messages, the highly visual interface and the features that enable users to get creative with the images they share, and tailor them to specific locations or events.

“In a world in which there is an app for nearly everything, Snapchat has cut through the clutter by injecting fun back into social sharing,” she said in a statement.

The eMarketer survey also predicts that, by next year, Snapchat will have surpassed Twitter and Pinterest in popularity, and the gap between the respective platforms’ popularity will only widen over time.

The study, however, did not look at Snapchat in comparison to other video services such as YouTube, Instagram or Vine, but rather still regards Snapchat primarily as a messaging service.


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