Report: Millennials focus on mobile apps’ utility, despite the price

More than half of consumers’ digital media time is spent on mobile devices. Where is younger users’ attention? The answers might surprise you.


More and more, people are accessing information and marketing messages through smaller screens.

U.S. consumers spend 57 percent of their time on digital media through mobile apps on their smartphones and tablets. ComScore’s 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report revealed how that time was divided.

In terms of social media, Facebook came out as the overall winner. The platform captured 81 percent of consumer’s mobile app use. YouTube followed with 71 percent, then Facebook Messenger (68 percent), Instagram (50 percent) and Snapchat (50 percent).

However, Facebook doesn’t have as much of a stronghold on millennials as it does with older smartphone and tablet users. ComScore reported that it’s the No. 1 app overall, but Facebook ranks No. 3 among consumers ages 18 to 34.

Instead, millennial consumers are focusing on utility rather than entertainment.

Andrew Lipsman, senior vice president of marketing and insights for comScore, wrote in a blog post:

When asked to select which three apps are their most essential and would be most difficult to go without, the two most commonly selected responses would be considered more of utilities than social or entertainment apps. At the top of the list was Amazon, with 35% of 18-34 year-olds [sic] selecting that app, followed by Gmail (30%) and Facebook (29%). Nearly half of all Millennials have their Amazon app accessible on their home screen.

Business Insider reported:

“It speaks to a broader insight, which is that millennials seem to recognize the importance of the more functional apps, like Amazon, Gmail and Google Maps,” said Andrew Lipsman, the senior vice president of insights and marketing at comScore. “I’d imagine if you asked which apps they found to be the ‘most fun’ you’d probably see the social, video and music apps hit the top of the list.”

This is just the latest feather in Amazon’s cap. With Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods getting the green light, the retail giant is quickly becoming an unstoppable force, poised to take over not just retail but also the hardware and advertising businesses.

Millennials are willing to pay for apps, too.

Sixty-four percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 purchased at least one app in the past year, with 36 percent buying five or more apps within that period.

By comparison, 34 percent of consumers ages 15 to 54 bought at least one app in the past year, and only 20 percent of consumers ages 55 and older sprung for app purchases.

Speaking of millennial consumers, Lipsman wrote:

This is an age group that is not only very comfortable paying at least a few dollars for digital content, but are even willing to shell out more than nominal payments. 46% of Millennials had spent at least $5 on an app in the past year, compared to 25% among 35-54 year-olds [sic] and 15% among 55+ year-olds [sic]. And 17% of Millennials had spent at least $20 on an app, compared to just a few percent amongst the older age segments.

Though the news that younger consumers are willing to spring for apps with a price tag might bolster PR and marketing pros’ confidence, beware that an unpopular branding decision can end your consumer relationships.

ComScore reported that 21 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 have deleted apps because they didn’t like the look of the logos on their home screens.

Lipsman wrote:

… As we think about the value of brand identity among today’s younger adults, it’s important to remember that brand extends to something as simple as a logo and how good (or bad) it looks on someone’s smartphone screen. Any app that doesn’t meet this bar could get relegated to the trash bin by Millennials.

How does this information jibe with your online PR and marketing efforts?

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