Marketers who simply view YouTube as a repository (for videos that they also publish in a multitude of other locations) are missing a huge opportunity to utilize the world’s second-largest search engine to reach audiences. Yes, optimizing for search on YouTube is important — but doing so is only half the battle. You must have content that its audiences want to consume.

Please note that when we say must what that actually means is this: nobody will see your videos if you don’t create content that your audiences really want to watch. Oh, and don’t rely on ad spend either. You don’t have enough money to buy yourself into YouTube relevancy. In other words, if you want to be successful on YouTube, you need to listen less to your executives and listen more to your audience. Then, you need to help your executives see why they need to listen to your audience, too.

The most successful content on YouTube is made for YouTube. Say it again with me. The most successful content on YouTube is made for YouTube. And in order to create this content, you first need to know who you intend to reach and how your target audiences use YouTube.

How to develop a YouTube strategy tailored to different generations.

How to develop a YouTube strategy tailored to different generations

So, what do you need to consider for each audience? What do they like? What do they search for? Why? Let us share with you some data, examples, and actionable insights you can learn from to determine how you can better reach the Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer audiences as you adapt your YouTube strategy.

  • Gen Z
  • Millennials
  • Gen X
  • Baby Boomers

Gen Z

Though some would have you believe Gen Z spends most of their time trash-talking millennials on TikTok, they do spend a lot of time on YouTube. Here are a few of the defining characteristics about the YouTube habits of Gen Z users.

What we know about Gen Z on YouTube

What we know about Gen Z on YouTube

  • According to a Pew Research study, 85 percent of Gen Z says they use YouTube — well above the 72 percent and 69 percent who say they use Instagram and Snapchat, respectively. Unsurprisingly, this number is light years beyond the 51 percent of Gen Z who say they use Facebook.
  • The Gen Z audience who watches content on YouTube says that spending time on the platform actually helps them build relationships. YouTube’s own research found that 70 percent of Gen Z on YouTube says watching videos makes them feel more connected.
  • Gen Z YouTube users recognize the value YouTube can bring for helping facilitate learning. A full four out of five teens say that YouTube has helped them learn something. Likewise, more than two-thirds of this audience says YouTube has helped them gain skills for the future.
  • Yes, everything mentioned above is true, but it also is true that teens simply use YouTube because it has fun content they want to consume. In YouTube’s study of Gen Z viewing habits, teens told researchers that YouTube is their favorite platform they turn to in order to relax or cheer up.
  • Gen Z likes to share YouTube content with older generations. A full 80 percent of teen YouTube users say they share content with parents and other adult family members.

What your organization should consider before developing content

  • You should always consider if Gen Z actually is a priority audience for you. Sure, you want to reach as many people as possible, but to reach Gen Z, you have to create YouTube content for Gen Z. In most instances, it can’t be the same thing you create for all audiences on other platforms.
  • If you truly are intent on reaching Gen Z, most of your marketing budget should be allocated toward developing content for YouTube. YouTube has proven it has lasting power for younger audiences. There are still many unknowns with newer platforms like TikTok.

What Gen Z watches

Companionship videos

Study guides




Turning to YouTube for entertainment and instruction is as natural for millennials as ordering avocado toast at their favorite bistro (sorry, millennials, just kidding). Here are a few of the defining characteristics about the YouTube habits of millennial users.

What we know about millennials on YouTube

  • Millennials would much rather learn to do something new by watching an instructional video on YouTube. In fact, millennials are 2.7x more likely to watch a YouTube video in these situations than read a book.
  • Not only do millennials learn on YouTube — they want to learn on YouTube. More than 2/3 of Millennial YouTube users watch content on the platform to learn how to do something new or to discover new information.
  • Millennials utilize YouTube as a comparison channel for their shopping ventures. Millennials are 150 percent more likely than boomers to comparison shop with videos.
  • ClearVoice survey of millennials found they were spending more than two hours per day on social media — with YouTube being the platform that takes up most of their time at 40 minutes per day.
  • When millennials were asked what content they most prefer to watch on YouTube, 79 percent responded “videos uploaded by people;” 74 percent responded “videos uploaded by brands;” 14 percent responded “movies;” 13 percent responded “previous season TV shows;” and 12 percent responded “current season TV shows.”
  • Millennials don’t just like to use YouTube, no, it goes much deeper than that. According to the MBLM Brand Intimacy Study in 2019, YouTube was ranked as the most intimate brand by millennials, beating out brands like Apple, Netflix, and Disney. Millennials use YouTube to connect.

What your organization should consider before developing content

  • Though YouTube has apps that connect to smart TVs, millennials overwhelmingly prefer to watch YouTube content on smartphones rather than on TV. Always keep in mind how your content appears on a mobile device when developing YouTube videos.
  • Your ability to reach millennials with YouTube ads may be greater than you think. Nearly 30 percent of millennials have reported watching YouTube ads from beginning to end.

What millennials watch

Unboxing videos

Feel-good stories


Gen X didn’t grow up with YouTube, so they don’t have the same sort of intimacy with it that Gen Z and millennials do, but Gen X has easily adapted to the digital world around them and YouTube has become a tremendously popular tool for this generation. Here are a few of the defining characteristics about the YouTube habits among Gen X users.

What we know about Gen X on YouTube

  • Gen X uses YouTube when they are looking to connect to events, products, or people from the past. YouTube says that 75 percent of Gen X YouTube users use the platform for this very reason.
  • More than 2/3 of Gen X YouTube users utilize the platform to stay apprised of news and pop culture information. Gen X users say they turn to YouTube for this information for the following three reasons:
    1. To keep up to date on their children’s world.
    2. To connect with their own children.
    3. To know for themselves of things going on in the world.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Gen X YouTube users utilize the platform for the purpose of learning how to do something. DIY content is tremendously popular among Gen X users for this reason. According to YouTube, the top 5 “how to” content categories for Gen Xers are:
    1. Home repair and home improvement
    2. Cooking
    3. Using and repairing technology
    4. Making arts and crafts
    5. Personal care and beauty
  • A full 75 percent of Gen Xers use YouTube at least monthly. Likewise, nearly 2/3 of Gen Xers have purchased a service or product that they saw in a YouTube video while learning to do something.
  • If Gen Xers want to share videos of themselves, they are more likely to first share on Facebook, though YouTube comes in at a close second.

What your organization should consider before developing content

  • If you have a product or service you are trying to promote, perhaps the best way of packaging it would be to include it in a “how-to” video. Your product or service doesn’t need to be the star of the video. The more you can do to show utility, the more your video will be viewed. The more your video is viewed, the more likely the mention (or mentions) of your product or service are to be seen.
  • Use nostalgia to your advantage. If the Gen X audience wants to “feel” something, you have an opportunity to build brand affinity by providing them with content that allows them to feel it.

What Gen X watches



How-to videos

Baby boomers

For baby boomers, YouTube has been a revelation compared to how things were when they grew up. Compared to the television programming they watched in their younger years, YouTube is much more flexible and accommodating to their schedules and their needs and they appreciate this new opportunity. Here are a few of the defining characteristics about the YouTube habits among baby boomers.

What we know about baby boomers on YouTube

  • The number of baby boomers who have a paid television subscription service has been continually decreasing in recent years. About 81 percent of baby boomers have a paid TV subscription, compared to 87 percent in 2014. This audience is turning more to platforms like YouTube for its information and entertainment needs.
  • Baby boomers use YouTube to save time. In a survey performed by YouTube, baby boomer respondents shared the sentiment that YouTube better allows them to spend short bursts of time watching content rather than needing to devote large amounts of time on longer content.
  • About 1 in 3 baby boomers come to YouTube to learn more about a product or service. Basic tutorials about how to use newer technologies are among some of the popular pieces of content for this audience.
  • About 2/3 of baby boomers say they come to YouTube to be entertained. In fact, boomers are much like younger audiences in that they find YouTube to be a valuable location for entertainment as well as information and news.
  • Individuals older than 50 are responsible for more than 51 percent of all spending. Effectively including content about products and services on YouTube will allow a large group of consumers to be exposed to your brand.

What your organization should consider before developing content

  • Keep in mind that although baby boomers do use YouTube, they don’t use it at the same rate that younger generations do. If you are targeting baby boomers with your content, consider which other channels may be as — or more — effective than YouTube for that audience.
  • The products and industries that have the highest view rate of content targeted to baby boomers on YouTube include household appliances, telecommunications, entertainment, and travel. Also keep in mind that if your intent is to have a baby boomer click-through on a YouTube ad, they are more likely to do this on a mobile device.

What baby boomers watch

Automobile reviews

Shopping guides

Technology advice