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Vox Media and Carat Present: The Duality of Media

Media moves at the speed of culture, and culture seems to be changing faster than ever before. In 2023, Vox Media and Carat teamed up on a mission to define a new cultural framework based on this duality. We wanted to understand the role that media and culture play in consumers’ lives, the forces that shape how culture is consumed and spread, and how brands can harness culture to create deeper consumer connections.

Through a joint research study, we uncovered a dueling need for culture to satisfy both niche and mass connections. Advancements in media and tech over recent years have enabled consumers to develop and indulge their individual identities and passions — but an over-reliance on algorithms has left us feeling isolated and disconnected from each other. Ready to regain control of their lives, consumers are seeking a greater balance between niche passions and mass cultural moments that make them feel part of the collective. This desire for balance is reshaping media and culture in fundamental ways.

Download the full report here to explore key insights including:

  • Dueling desires for self-actualization and connection are shaping media consumption: Nearly 2 in 3 consumers feel in control of the media they consume. For the most part, social media, online video sites, and music top daily overall media usage. Where we start to see nuance is in the role these channels play in making consumers feel connected.
  • Social media is skewing “too niche”: 1 in 3 surveyed believe social feeds are starting to become too specific. As a result, half are sharing less on social media platforms than they once were, and a third of consumers see less engagement. While consumers are spending a ton of time online, only 44% agree that their digital connections are also their “real friends in real life” and only 39% trust the content they consume.
  • We want media that brings us together: If marketers align with platforms that are too fragmented, it can be difficult to scale the connection that we know consumers are craving. Today’s preferred media is about bringing people you know physically closer, creating connection/learning, and ultimately forming much tighter and more meaningful bonds.