Mobile Millennials Leading the Way

Suddenly all the news about Millennials seems to be about mobile marketing! How many are mobile? What devices are they using?  What are they doing? And above all, will they accept ads on their mobile devices?  Here are some of the highlights of recent reports by Pew, Nielsen and others.

Cell phones are ubiquitous.

According to Forrester, 88% of Gen Y has a cell phone and 23% have a smart phone. Pew puts the figure even higher at 96% of 18-29 year olds.  Within smart phone owners, Comscore data shows RIM has a commanding lead overall (41.6%) followed by Apple (25.3%) and Microsoft (17.9%). Google Android ownership currently stands at just 5.2%.

This just in! Texting is up!

Texting is one of the most widespread mobile activities. According to the latest report by Nielsen (Oct 2010), the average teen (13-17 years) sends or receives 3,339 texts a month. That’s more than six per every hour they’re awake – an 8 percent jump from last year. Girls you won’t be surprised to learn text even more frequently than boys – over 4,000 a month!  18-24 year olds text about half as often, but that’s still a lot of texts.

Mobile means more than phone calls:

A survey of 36,000 college students  by the Educause Center for Applied Research) revealed that over 60% have an internet enabled mobile device and 11% more intend to buy one in the next year. “The proportion of the total sample who actually use their devices to browse the Internet (49 percent) and the percentage of that subset who do so daily (55 percent) are both up from last year.”

Phone calls? How intrusive!

All this data use and texting comes at the expense of voice. Nielsen reports teens are some of the lowest users of phone calls. Voice activity has decreased 14 percent among teens over the past year, who in Q2 2010 averaged just 646 minutes talking on the phone per month, the lowest of any group other than those 55 and over. While voice consumption rises among 18-24 year olds, it still lags that of people 25-44 years old.

Mobile devices are part of a 24/7 lifestyle

As Millennial, Josip Petrusa, observes in his post, A Day In the Life of A Millennial, the day of a Millennial is always started by the abrupt ringing of our mobile phones”….

But it doesn’t stop there. We take our mobile/smart phones everywhere with us – since we would be utterly lost without them. Mobile communications and technology has become the most personalized extension of our self’s. Even more personal than the brands we wear. Cancelling our voice, text and data plans would be the absolute last thing we would ever do. Even at our last resort, we would continue without paying our monthly bills until we could figure something out.”

“Not only are they cool, they are functional and efficient. They are both time savers and time wasters. They not only represent who we are, they allow us to be who we are. I can hardly think of a moment when my BlackBerry isn’t in arms reach.”

Apps Power a Life on the Go

According to Nielsen, teens with data plans use as much as 14 MB in Q2 2009 to 62 MB in Q2 2010, a fourfold increase. Males are consuming more data than females with 75 MB used vs. 53 MB for females.

Pew reports the rise of an “Apps Culture“, particularly among Millennials. 79% of 18-29 years-olds use the apps they have on their phones, with the average Millennial having 22 apps.

iPad Users Connect Differently

While iPad penetration is still low, the early results from Nielsen suggest ownership skews younger and more male. A survey of 400 iPad owners showed 65% were under the age of 35. Thirty-six percent ofiPad owners are under the age of 25. This is in contrast to ebook readers which skew older (and wealthier). Extensive research about the iPad, conducted by Conde Nast,  found that iPad owners use them more as household devices than as mobile devices

Ads? Sure, why not?

Nielsen found that 46% of iPhone users say ads are okay if it means free content. Twenty percent have viewed a full ad on their phone and 18%  even say they enjoy ads on their iPhone.

Global research by inMobi and Comscore suggest consumers are more comfortable with ads on the go than advertisers are. Sixty-three percent of U.S. smart phone users and 68% of EU smart phone users scored in the top two box on comfort with ads on their phones.  Even more revealing, 32% said they would accept ads in exchange for free apps, 50% said they would accept ads for 10% off their bill and a whopping 57% said they would say yes to ‘Ads Personalized for You’.

Intriguingly for marketers, iPad users seem even more receptive to advertising than smartphone users, according to data by Nielsen.

  • Thirty-nine percent of iPad owners say ads on their connected device are new and interesting, compared to 19% of all connected device owners.
  • 46% say they enjoy ads with interactive features compared to 27% of all connected device owners.

Phones Becoming A New Purchase Channel

According to Nielsen, thirteen percent of smart phone users have requested a coupon on their phone and 5% have made a purchase. Among connected device owners,  iPad owners are the most likely to have made a purchase as a result of seeing an ad.

What It Means

Taken together, the research suggests that mobile is not only coming to dominate the way we communicate, but it may also be the way advertisers communicate with customers in the future.  The personal nature of phones make customization of messaging — and even relevant to location — easy. And relevance is the key to customer acceptance. As with most trends, Millennials are leading the way.