Snapchat isn’t just for teens and college-age adults anymore. While still wildly popular among these younger demographic segments, the ephemeral photo and video sharing app is also rapidly growing its user base among older Millennials (Age 25-34) and those 35 years-and-older. Three years ago, Snapchat’s app was only being used by 5% of smartphone users age 25-34 and 2% of users age 35+, according to Comscore Mobile Metrix. Today its penetration among these two age demos is an impressive 38% and 14%, respectively.
At the same time, the app’s youngest adult users don’t seem to be deterred by the influx of older individuals, as the 18-24 year-old segment grew its smartphone penetration to an all-time high of 69% in April.
Back in 2014, we wrote about Snapchat's potential to go mainstream. Now as its smartphone penetration nears 15-20% among the age 35+ population, it appears that the social network is approaching the point at which critical mass is achieved within a particular audience segment that eventually propels it to much greater heights.
Snapchat’s growth has likely been fueled by the introduction of several popular product features over the past few years, which amplified its already powerful network effects. Most notable among those new product features was the launch of “Stories”, which allows a user’s “snaps” (i.e. photos or videos) to be viewed in a chronological order by their friends an unlimited number of times in a 24-hour period. The Stories feed also includes coverage of various live events or places, in which some of the best snaps from users engaging with that showcased event are curated into one story available to all users. And more recently, Snapchat began regularly adding innovative ways to express oneself, such as “Lenses,” the camera’s creative filter options which make simple photos and videos more fun and entertaining.
This has been one of the keys to Snapchat’s success: equipping users with the tools to create engaging content, which produces more content for others in the network to consume. And the more available content, the more potential it has to appeal to a broader audience with a wider array of interests. This may be one reason Snapchat is now getting meaningful traction from the 35+ crowd.
For more insights into Snapchat and other social networks’ audiences, you can download Comscore’s 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report.