LONDON: So-called digital natives are no more likely than other age groups to participate in a variety of key digital behaviours, according to new research.

An analysis of Kantar Media's TGI Clickstream – an in-depth study of consumer offline and online behaviour and characteristics – indicated that the widely-held assumption that 15-24 year olds lead the way in digital adoption, behaviour and spending is wide of the mark.

For example, just less than 30% of this age group have paid to download an app, similar to the proportion of 35-44 year olds who have done so, while the older age group is also significantly more likely to have bought a range of products or services online.

The study suggested that factors such as economic clout and cultural characteristics – a combination that Kantar dubbed Social DNA – are far better predictors of digital behaviour than age.

Thus when it comes to buying holidays or travel online, TGI Clickstream revealed that Digital Natives were actually 22% less likely to do so than the average internet user. Conversely, adults aged 35-64 with high Social DNA (meaning large amounts of cultural and economic capital) were 65% more likely than the average internet user to make such purchases online.

Nor was this simply a consequence of an older age group enjoying higher financial clout. Those 35-64 year olds showing a strong bias towards high cultural (not economic) capital were still 43% more likely to buy holidays and travel online than the average internet user.

The same pattern was evident when looking at online purchase of various goods and services. Digital Natives were only 8% more likely than the average internet user to buy music or videos online, whereas 35-64 year olds with high Social DNA were 52% more likely than the average to do so.

Anne Benoist, Director, TGI Insights and Integration, Kantar Media, warned that marketers were in danger of seeing little return on their targeting efforts if they simply assumed young adults were the most valuable digital consumers.

"To truly identify and leverage those consumers who are most engaged with digital and particularly lucrative in a digital environment, it is necessary to get away from notions of age and instead consider the key drivers dictating how consumers make decisions," she said.

Data sourced from Kantar Media; additional content by Warc staff