Stoop&Simon’s report intends to offer an exploratory qualitative overview of the state of youngsters mobile phone use in general and apps specifically. The aim is to provide a more solid base from which to examine the medium’s effects on youngsters and to help guide those who are proactively using (or intend to use) smartphones to inform and engage the younger generations. To do so, Stoop&Simon invited international students living in the Netherlands to talk about their insights on smartphones and their opinions on the direction the mobile phone industry is taking concerning the generalisation of app use. The group was formed by 19 to 22 year old students from France, Spain and the United States. Hereby, Stoop&Simon presents its findings.
iPhone is preferred over Android or BlackBerry, this last one devaluated for its low speed.
Social Networking apps continue to dominate the use, followed by games.
Unwillingness to pay for apps, unless they are highly useful.
Multi-tasking; a new way of consumption, a new challenge.
Privacy issues are not an issue… just yet.
Clear preference for app navigation over browsers.
Youngsters will increase their mobile video consumption in the following years.
Bright future for e-wallets.
When analysing the general penetration of Smartphone’s per age group, we can appreciate not only the growth the device has experienced in only a few years, but also the personal value it has acquired amongst the younger clusters of population. This leading facet is probably due to the new kind of lifestyle embraced by young people, based on the ideas of hedonism, visibility and open-mindedness. In today’s post-modern lifestyle, consumption is regarded as a means of self-expression, individual identity formation, creativity, or even art. In essence, Smartphone’s relate perfectly to this new form of consumption, as young people not only use their phones to stay connected, but also as a way of expressing their personality within the limits of the device. Mobile phones are literally a virtual extension of the young owner’s individuality. It is clear; the future generations are consuming technology in a whole different level than anybody could expect.
From the various new uses that can be given to mobile phones, Stoop&Simon found the majority of youngsters employ it for social networking and gaming. Other activities carried out in order of preference are listening to music, instant messages and taking photos and video. This contrasts infinitely with adults consumption, as most grownups use their smartphones to send emails, surf the internet, scan maps and GPS, picture messaging and accessing general news. This is why it seems that when the ever-changing unpredictable world of the younger generations is combined with the dynamic market of mobile marketing, many take the highway to panic. The lack of established patterns makes the already difficult task of reaching the target far more complex. Understanding the role these devices have in young people’s lives is essential for Stoop&Simon and all those concerned about the advertising shift that has risen due to the proliferation of the Internet
1. iPhone preferred over Android and BlackBerry.
Mobile/Tablet Operating System Market Share
Week of January 01, 2012
Operating System Total Market Share
Java ME 17,61%
Windows Phone 0,26%
Windows Mobile 0,12%
Statistics don’t lie; the i-Domination is still palpable. Half of the youngsters interviewed by Stoop&Simon had an iPhone in their pockets, while many of those that didn’t are planning on purchasing one in the near future. Most even consider owning a feature phone is like “living in the past”. On the other hand, BlackBerry is still found to be popular amongst youngsters due (mainly) to its affordable price. However, the BlackBerry respondents claimed apps for BlackBerry “aren’t that good”, and that the app experience is devaluated by the poor internet connexion offered by the server.
“I do use Skype, but not on my BlackBerry. It’s too slow.” French. Age 19.
Speed is important, especially to this technological generation. If a youngster has to wait for more than a minute for a content to load, they will simply move on to something else. They are impatient, and will rather open a magazine if a YouTube video takes more than two minutes to stream. They need to be able to access the content instantly, and this is the main reason why certain apps are still not that commonly used. The high importance for young people of fast internet navigation probably relies in the fact that speed is simply addictive. Once you experience it, once HD media is played instantly and web pages are loading fast, there is no way back. Youngsters can’t seem to remember the good old days of three-minutes-to-download websites. Thats why they won’t accept anything less than instantaneity.
“I use my phone because its handy, fast and easy. If its going to give me any problems, I will get my laptop.” Spanish. Age 21.
“We have shorter attention spans, so if its slow we’ll be like… Common! On to the next one!” American. Age 20.
Finally, when it comes to the Android minority, Stoop&Simon found users are happy with their purchase, but don’t seem to experience the strong brand connexion encountered amongst iPhone users. The reasons for their purchase over the leading Apple tend to be based on rational judgements (such as the software capabilities or the contract specifications), rather than emotional motives.
2. Social Networking apps continue to dominate, followed by games.
Social networks have become an essential part of young people’s daily life. Everyday, 310 million access Facebook, and the network is currently reaching an astonishing 25,8% of the global population aged 18-25, and a 20,6% of 13-17 year olds. If Facebook was a country, it would be the world’s third largest country after China and India. And that is just one social network. The statistics become even more relevant when other networks such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr or LinkedIn are added to the mix. In this sense, it is also important to include local social networks in the mash, such as Hyves(Netherlands) or Tuenti (Spain). Both have managed to acquired a relevant place in the market. Even though they are considered more childish when compared to Facebook, Hyves currently owns the fifteenth position in The Netherlands websites rank, while Tuenti has the eighteenth position in the Spanish rank ().
“Facebook is more grownup than Tuenti, so many of my friends are now switching.” Spanish. Age 20.
Although less powerful, national social networks have become relevant competitors for the bigger global networks. The interviewed students stated they own both a Facebook and a local network account in order to expand their network of friends, as some are only found on Facebook, whilst others (a few) are only found on the local network. The respondents use Facebook to stay in contact with their friends and family. With an average of 300 to 700 friends, they can spend hours jumping from profile to profile, sending messages, liking pages and uploading pictures. Twitter, on the other hand, presents itself as a simple and entertaining way of killing time, but is still far behind in popularity when compared to Facebook, as nearly half of the Twitter users claim that they either never or rarely check their account.
Furthermore, when Stoop&Simon asked why they use their phone to access the networks, the interviewed recall it is simply quicker than reaching for a conventional laptop. Most of the times they will check their notifications on their smartphone, even if they are at home.
“There is no point on using a PC… I just check Facebook on my iPhone. Its quicker.” Spanish. Age 21.
The different social sites keep innovating and developing to match the users most relevant requirements. Lately, location based services such as FourSquare have been gathering the attention of over 10 million users worldwide, and 175,000 in the Netherlands. However, it seems most youngsters are still reluctant to exploit the new functions, and leave the upcoming innovations to the technological leaders. Despite this, all of the interviewed knew someone that uses these facilities and this is increasing their general interest, as most appreciate them and consider they will employ them in the near future.
The availability of more free games is the number one factor driving the increase in mobile phone gaming. This has taken games to a second position in the usage rank of mobile phone applications. The most appreciated games are those that are easy and simple. Normally they are used as a killing time device while travelling on the train or bus, or waiting in a queue. The simpler, the better and thus more addictive. This explains the recent popularity of games such as Angry Birds and Restaurant Story. Another successful example is WordFeud, that currently owns more than 700,000 users. 95% have acquired the app for free, which is why most of its revenue comes from advertising. WordFeud is currently one of the most popular downloads in Dutch app stores, probably due to its similarity to Zynga’s WordsWithFriends, which also acquired quite a boost. The twist offered by this app is the ability to compete against other online players. In any case, there is no doubt; games, no matter how simple, are addictive.
“I don’t have any games on my iPhone yet, because I know that once I start playing, I won’t stop.” French. Age 20.
“I love Restaurant Story! It’s really simple and funny!” Spanish. Age 20.
3. Apps: Not free? No, thanks.
Over 300,000 mobile apps have been developed in the past years and downloads have overpassed the 10 billion figure. These numbers keep growing while the average price of a mobile app is falling rapidly. In 2011, nine in ten of all smartphone apps were downloaded for free. With so much offered without the need to purchase, the young have it clear; they won’t pay unless the content is really worth it. In all probability, charging upfront for an app is not the best way to access the younger population.
“I don’t usually go on the App Store… Only when I’m bored to check out any new free apps.” French. Age 21.
However, Stoop&Simon has spotted that if necessary, the key to pricing an app aimed at youngsters is to find the balance between the functionality of the content offered and the price users will find reasonable. This is why “useful” was an adjective mentioned several times when describing what kind of app would the interviewed pay for. Furthermore, when asked what apps they had actually purchased, most youngsters remained silent. The only application they remembered having paid for is WhatsApp for 0,69€. They claimed to have accepted the price due to the quicker nature of the communication when compared to Facebook messaging, and of course, because messages are sent for free. The uniqueness of the application is also based in the possibility of sending small pictures, videos and short voice recordings.
“WhatsApp is so handy, and so much quicker than Facebook”. American. 20.
The students did state that they would happily pay for music, but consider that charging more than 5€ for an app is excessive. Presumably, this is why Spotify is still struggling to convert the young to Premium users and why the Freemium Business Model has experienced such an increase in popularity in the last years. The model describes a new way of making business, where a company gives a core product away for free, and then sells premium product extensions. The success of the trend relies in the possibility of making money while keeping users happy. In most cases, the totally free accounts are supported by advertising revenues, while the premium accounts are supported by the user’s monthly fee.
“I never pay but maybe for a music app I would, because YouTube is good, but still too slow.” French. Age 21.
Consequently, youngsters have learned to accept the advertising that comes along with the free content, mainly because they can easily ignore it and have almost become immune to it. They never click, and hardly ever realise it is there. The average consumer receives more or less 1,200 advertising impressions on a daily basis. From all of these adverts, at the end of the day only one or two brand are remembered. And believe us – it won’t be the one that appears in a small banner in a corner of the Angry Birds game. When Stoop&Simon asked if they retrieve to have seen specific brands in apps, the students remained silent. “A casino one?” Thats all we got.
“If its for free, you can’t complain about advertising. Its easy to ignore anyway.” Spanish. Age 21.
“You know there is an ad, but you don’t have to look.” French. Age 20.
So what is the best way for a brand to reach youngsters? The traditional concept of advertising is no longer useful in the online-mobile-world of young people. As a result of this change, a question pops-up in the mind of every company that wants to enter the mobile medium and engage youngsters: How do I do it? To begin, it is important to bear in mind that the younger generations need to know they are receiving something in exchange to their attention, and will not accept irrelevant information or useless content. Traditional advertising used to be all about pushing an idea through to the consumer, regardless whether the listener was interested in hearing that idea or not. Till this date, this form of brand communication is still found in most media platforms. Nonetheless, the current Internet and mobile revolution has changed the concept, as young people progressively consider the platform to be theirs – not the companies’. They are willing to let in only those brands that are worth it by offering relevant content created after a careful study of the target audience. The advertising model has dramatically shifted from push to pull. In other words; give them an appealing incentive that will bring the public to the brand through a satisfactory engagement. Give them something useful.
4. Multi-tasking; a new way of consumption.
Media multitasking is no longer a vague trend but rather a fact achieved through the followed example of the leading technological youngsters. Advertisers should take into account that most of the time, their youngest target may be splitting attention between two or even three screens. Youngsters multitask while reading, listening to music, browsing on their laptop and especially, while watching TV. In addition, according to Stoop&Simon’s respondents, the main activities carried out on their smartphone while multitasking include visiting social networks, instant messaging and playing games. Since multi-tasking has a distracting nature, it has the potential of affecting negatively advertising as we knew it. When youngsters try to pay attention to multiple media simultaneously, they tend to switch back a forth from one screen to another at an astonishing rate. Naturally, the same advert doesn’t have an equal effect on a fully concentrated viewer than on a multi-tasker.
What does this mean for advertising? To put it simple, one main thing: engagement needs to be the main priority. Advertisers have to start thinking about truly interesting content that will keep the viewer on the desired screen. To meet this end, it is best to grab the viewer’s eye-ball through interaction that focuses their attention and as a result increases the engagement. The message developed by the brand has to force a connection with the viewer that accomplishes active communication.
It is important to note that although tablet users are also consuming their devices daily while watching TV, Stoop&Simon wouldn’t consider youngsters to be part of this trend. Most of the young don’t own a personal tablet, and what’s more important; they don’t intend to do so. They feel they have enough with their smartphone and laptop, and that a tablet would be a totally unnecessary purchase.
“I wouldn’t buy a tablet now. It seems kind of silly…” American. Age 20.
“There is no need. Tablets aren’t very useful… It isn’t a laptop, but you can’t put it in your pocket.” French. Age 21.
5. Privacy issues are not an issue…yet.
Youngsters aren’t concerned with privacy issues. They won’t read the terms and conditions, and are willing to just give away all kind of information in exchange for services, especially if the company asking for the data sounds familiar. Although they seem carefree, and affirm to have no problem when it comes to sharing personal information, it appears most of this lack of concern lies in the fact that youngsters aren’t really conscious about the consequences of leaving certain information on the internet. They all upload personal photos on Facebook, but most didn’t know the network holds the ownership of those pictures. When Stoop&Simon informed the interviewed about a new face recognition software (), one of the respondents said;
“I didn’t even know they were allowed to do that… It’s so scary!” Spanish. Age 22.
There is a general growing concern to advise youngsters about the risks of leaving certain information on the internet, and this might change their current position in the next few years. They are slowly becoming more aware about the increasing power companies are achieving by knitting together pieces of information left behind by individuals on different sites. In any case, we can confidently state that youngsters are more willing to share their life with others than older generations. This aspect relates to the new post-modern form of consumption where public self-expression is taken for granted.
“If it was shorter (terms and conditions agreement), I would read it.” French. Age 20.
6. Clear preference for app navigation over browsers.
“I even have a Google App!” Spanish. Age 20.
Apps are considered to be the ultimate way of navigating through content on a smartphone. Stoop&Simon found the reason behind the success of apps is simple; they are quicker and easier to access than common browsers. What is more, due to the specific adaptation to each platform, apps navigation is clean and smooth. For this reason, youngsters love to download any apps that might help them to kill or save time, and will only delete if they don’t find it useful at all. By itself, the growing trend of app usage (proportionally inverse to browser usage) gives us a hint on how apps should be in essence.
“Apps are quicker and easier to use. Thats why the simple apps are the best ones.” French. Age 19.
First of all, apps need to open quickly. That is the first step. Although it might seem irrelevant, if the application takes too much time to initiate, the user will simply quit it and try somewhere else, reaching either for another app or their laptop. Secondly, apps should be intuitive. The interface design has to help the user navigate through the offered content and help reach the information that is being searched. What is more, apps should try and offer a little something-else when compared to browsers. Those customers that have downloaded the app should feel they have been prized somehow for pulling interaction. That extra-something can take the form of useful unique features or special offers, coupons, promotions… Finally, we can’t stress it enough; keep it simple. Users in general like to have specific apps for specific functionalities. Its important that the brand selects precisely what will be offered and sticks to their commitment.
7. Looking forward to video consumption.
Predictions come from every corner. We know it by now: online video is growing and will continue rising for at least the next three years. It is predicted that by 2015, 50% of ad campaigns will feature video ads that will be bought on a cost-per-view basis. Although it sounds extremely promising, Stoop&Simon decided it was best to look at the picture by questioning how do youngsters consume video, as understanding their intake now will set the basis for hereafter knowledge.
When talking about online video consumption, it is undeniable YouTube maintains its status as the main platform. All youngsters interviewed access YouTube on a daily or weekly basis to search all kinds of videos (mainly “amusing” content and music).
“YouTube is basic!” Spanish. Age 22.
“I use it all the time.” American. Age 21.
The platform is rarely used as a background playlist for music. Rather, youngsters will watch the video paying full attention. Their reasoning for this is the nuisance of having to actively initiate the next video. Sometimes, the platform is used as a search engine, especially when seeking tutorial or “How-To” videos. These are occasionally found through the YouTube app, but many times they are spotted by typing the search on Google and then accessing the video that appears integrated in the results.
Although youngsters are skeptical, critical and difficult to impress, when the detected insights are combined with the striking results of the new engaging skippable YouTube pre-roll video ads, the future of online video advertising looks promising. Still, brands need to bear in mind youngsters lose interest when a large amount of information is presented to them, and thus their messages should always be direct, coherent and summarized, all whilst offering extremely funny or shocking content. Furthermore, although mobile video consumption is still twiddling due to the low internet speed, all students interviewed claimed to be looking forward to rise their mobile video consumption as betterments are introduced in smartphones.
8. The future; “My phone is my wallet.”
Plastic and cash are still the way the vast majority of retailers do business. However, at Stoop&Simon we believe this will change over the next few years, as smartphone usage continues to increase and people are progressively growing in confidence with online payments. E-wallets are already being used in some countries, and so far the results prove this new way of acquiring products is working.
When this new notion was presented to the interviewed students, opinions were diverse depending on the nationality. On the one hand, Americans are already happy and confident to buy over the internet any kind of product. Spanish, on the other hand, seem to still have a way to go, as they still feel online payment is less secure, especially via mobile phone.
“I buy on the Internet all the time… Its easier and cheaper.” American. Age 20.
“I check the new stuff on Zara’s app. If I like anything, I’ll drop by the shop and buy it there.” Spanish. Age 20.
In any case, youngsters are impatiently awaiting this forthcoming innovation, as they can appreciate all the obvious benefits including the total integration into one unique dispositive and the increased rapidness this would involve when purchasing .
The vertiginous rate at which the mobile industry is moving seems to be confusing everyone. Everyone but youngsters. They are embracing every new innovation with enthusiasm and curiosity, sharing their knowledge amongst one another. Although they are growing in skepticism towards advertising, but still happily welcome those brands that have proved to listen to their demands. They search for useful and interesting content that will help them get their tasks done quicker, or kill that extra dead time on their way to school. They absolutely love their smartphones, and are now browsing the internet on these devices even when their laptop is at reach. They look at the future impatiently, knowing that what is coming will change their lives for better. They have a lot to say, and at Stoop&Simon, our job is to listen.