eMarketer: Snapchat growth driven by older users, as usage among young adults declines

Snapchat has a reputation for being an app that’s confusing to the “olds” – something the company tried to address with a redesign just ahead of filing for its IPO. In addition, the app has expanded beyond its original use case, which focused on communication, and now includes short, easily digestible content from a number of sources, including media and entertainment properties. It seems these shifts may be paying off. According to a new report out today from eMarketer, much of Snapchat’s growth is now being driven by older Americans.

The analyst firm says that this year, 6.4 percent of Snapchat’s users will be between the ages of 45 and 54, which is up from the 4.2 percent previously projected. Of course, that’s still a small sliver of the pie for an app whose primary demographic is teens and young adults. But eMarketer says that all projections for those older than 45 have been adjusted upward, while projections for users 24 and younger have decreased slightly.

223741The latter is attributable to the increasing competition from Facebook-owned Instagram, the firm’s report says. This coincides with what TechCrunch’s Josh Constine recently reported, as well. That is, since the launch of Instagram’s own Snapchat-like Stories feature, Snapchat growth slowed by 82 percent. That slowdown might not be all Instagram’s doing – international competition from apps like Snow, as well as technical errors in the rollout of new products, could have also caused issues.

But eMarketer is now predicting the gap between Snapchat and Instagram will widen. The former closed out 2016, just 6.8 million users behind Instagram. By 2021, eMarketer believes Instagram will have grown to have 9.5 million more users than Snapchat. This year, Snapchat will capture 36.8 percent of the U.S. social network user base compared with Instagram’s 40.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Snapchat’s growth among older Americans has a lot to do with Snapchat’s content deals, which have more recently included those with the NFL, NBCUniversal, Turner, Hearst, and Disney along with others. Just this month, for example, Snapchat announced expansions in original programming with shows from A+E Networks and BBC’s Planet Earth II. 

“The usage trends are largely the result of a shift in the primary use case of Snapchat,” said eMarketer’s forecasting analyst Jaimie Chung, in the report. “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.”

Overall, eMarketer is still fairly bullish on Snapchat, having increased its U.S. projections by over 5 percent for 2017. It says 70.4 million U.S. users will be on Snapchat’s app this year, up from the 66.6 million it had forecast last June. Usage will increase 14.2 percent year-over-year in 2017, then slowing through 2021, the report said.