Introducing Mobile Prodigies: A Fresh Look At 2 Generations Driving App Adoption and Usage

Gone are the days when young shoppers relied solely on TV commercials, sales associates, and aisle end-caps to help them search for new things to buy. The rise of Millennials and Gen Z consumers brings with it fundamental changes in the way mobile consumers approach the brands, products, and services that capture their attention … and their spend.

And spend they do. Millennials alone represent some $200 – 600 billion in annual buying power;Gen Z is reported to represent $200 billion annually when taking into account that their generation is influencing parental buying decisions.

Call them Mobile Prodigies. Many of them have never known a world without mobile devices and, by and large, they are quintessential experts in the mobile space. In our recent study, “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies,” we surveyed more than 3,000 people aged 14 - 29 and assembled a series of focus groups for qualitative clarity. The results are our window onto how both generations use their devices and interact with apps to explore, connect, shop, and ultimately buy.



For Mobile Prodigies, mobile experiences are app-focused (as are most of these interactions in 2016; Luxury Daily reports that 87% of mobile consumption happens in-app). Additionally, app browsing and discovery is nearly compulsive — 60% of Mobile Prodigies download one or more apps weekly (the equivalent of 3 - 5 new downloads per user, per month). 

Acquiring these apps is part of a multi-faceted process, from word-of-mouth to app-store browsing, but all of it is trending toward more downloads and more frequent and consistent usage than ever before. 

  • 84% of Mobile Prodigies said they discover apps through multiple sources, a combination of word of mouth, social media, and digital ads. 
  • 77% said, however, that app-store browsing is still a common and enjoyable way to discover new downloads.
  • 80% of Mobile Prodigies spend more time on mobile apps than they did one year ago; 74% report spending more time on mobile apps than they did six months ago.

If there’s a caveat to all this app-forward behavior, it’s that Mobile Prodigies will also stop using apps that fail to meet their expectations. “Nobody is afraid to leave behind followers or content,” blogs John Vieira, head writer at Nemo Design, an advertising agency in Portland, Ore.Especially among younger users, the tendency is to “go where there’s energy and getting there is as easy as downloading a free app.” 

And so, the onus is on brands and marketers to work together to fuse meaningful, memorable mobile-ad creative with moments of delivery that are contextual and relevant to Mobile Prodigies’ underlying content. When we succeed at this, Mobile Prodigies tell us that they value — and retain — the apps they use.

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