There is a generational split in how consumers look for brands and information on the internet using various devices and apps.

As technology evolves and ages, new users emerge, forever altering how advertising and marketers identify and approach individuals online.

According to a Forbes Advisory report issued Monday, there is a 30% decrease in the use of search engines to search for brand names among baby boomers (94% vs. Gen Z, 64%).

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Mobile device use effects search behaviors, with individuals who primarily access the internet via cellphones utilizing a search engine to discover brands at a slightly lower rate of 79%, compared to the average.

Consumers are increasingly discovering brands through social media rather than traditional search. On average, 10% of people start their brand searches on social media, then refine them on engines. This habit is more prevalent among Generation Z and millennials, at 21% and 14%, respectively. Approximately 4% of all respondents, including 11% of Generation Z, rely solely on social media platforms to discover and interact with brands, showing a trend toward more self-contained digital ecosystems within social media apps.

According to a Forbes Advisor online survey of 2,000 Americans performed by Talker Research between April 12 and April 22, 2024, 24% of individuals polled use social media exclusively or largely to search online for topics such as restaurants, fashion, and sports updates.

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46% of Generation Z uses social media to get information. Millennials follow suit, with 35% preferring social media over traditional search engines.

There is an interesting geographical shift. The Southwest has the greatest online search rate in the United States, with 29% of people using social media. This figure rises to 38% for people who only use mobile devices for internet access.

One in every five persons does not feel the need to utilize search engines because they may access websites via social media.

Some 18% use both social media apps and traditional search engines, alternating between the two depending on their needs. About 24% use social media for searches but mostly rely on search engines, whereas 34% only use traditional search engines.

One-third of people only use their cellphones to access the internet. When it comes to cell phone and internet use, Generation Z is one of the more interesting generations. Seventy-seven percent of Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2006, use YouTube, 77% use Instagram, 73% use TikTok, 65% use Google, and 59% use Snapchat.

On the opposite end of the scale, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are more likely to use Google’s app to access the internet. Seventy-six percent use Google’s app, 71% use Facebook, 66% use YouTube, 29% use Instagram, and 21% use Pinterest.

It is apparent that younger generations, who have never known a world without search engines like Google and Bing, rely on social media for connectivity and information. As technology evolves, data reveal a continual shift in how consumers utilize digital experiences, reinforcing the necessity for advertisers and marketers to create content for social media and search.