Approaching someone under the age of 24, it’s common to instantly start feeling technologically inadequate and out of touch. However, Vizeum research should have you feeling reassured as there is huge commonality in consumption across age groups.
Our research focused on those under the age of 24, looking primarily at apps and app habits.
Smartphone penetration is now at approximately 53% and with these more sophisticated phones, it’s really interesting to see that communication has taken on a new definition for these younger consumers. Phones are no longer seen primarily as a means to make voice calls, but rather their central role has flipped; they are primarily viewed as a device for keeping in contact through text and data enabled apps. When asked, not one of the individuals we talked to wanted free calls, all preferring free texts or data.
Just like the rest of us, the apps of younger audiences can be segmented into; social networking, entertainment and functional. On the social front, the forerunners are Facebook and Twitter, with Instagram getting a strong look in. The likes of Hailo or AIB banking were at the fore of the functional category and from an information/entertainment point of view, the common entrants were the Daily Mail, Spin and a range of sporting apps for the young men.
As we get older, it’s common to get comfortable with the apps you already have on your phone, being content that they serve a function. Younger audiences though, appear to continuously make space for the untried and peer recommended. They are the early adopters in this consumption area. Outside of the stables mentioned above, what they are using is not as daunting as you would initially have thought. The newer or less well known apps include;
1) Snapchat: This is essentially sharing of photos with a ‘mission impossible’ twist. Once you send the image to a friend, upon receipt and after a set time elapses, the photo deletes from their phone. Personally, I’ve yet to appreciate the merits of this. If the photo is going to delete after 10 seconds why send it in the first place? However, for younger individuals, they like its ability to capture a brief moment in time or the essence of how they are feeling, however whimsical. Typically it’s used for sharing silly incidentals, selfies and sharing of pictures you know you really ought not to. For brands, this is certainly an interesting platform for teaser marketing campaigns.
2) Thumb: This is a spinoff of ‘hot or not’. You post ‘yes/no’ type questions into cyberspace and within minutes responses flood in. I posted a question on whether it was rude to be on your phone whilst dealing with someone at a checkout. Within 30 minutes, I had 57 responses. As a user you can also vote on other’s questions. It’s quite addictive.
3) Vine: Twitter owned, this is another social networking app, but rather than sharing pictures or 140 characters, vine focuses on the sharing of short video content (6 secs in a loop). There are some clear avenues for advertisers using vine from sharing content to integration into competitions mechanics. With Instagram video recently launching, which has an allowance of 15 sec, we believe Vine will be under threat.
4) Pheed: a newer social multimedia platform. It enables creation and sharing of just about everything; text, photos, videos, audio tracks and live broadcasts. It doesn’t have much traction in Ireland yet, but will be one to watch grow in popularity. Its one core difference is that there is scope for artists or other creative minds to retain copyrights and monetize their work across the platform; with obvious implications for struggling Irish artists. Pay per view broadcasts are also feasible with an in-app payment system.
5) iTube: Works with YouTube and primarily allows you to organise your YouTube videos into playlists. Its main competitor is Vevo.
6) Soundwave: This is a very new social music app which originated from Ireland. It allows users to see what their friends, or those they are following, are listening to. Discovery is the key word here. The premise of the app is that it helps you find new music but also uncover what other people are listening to as opposed to what they say they are listening to. All those people professing to listen to Kanye when really it was Westlife will be found out! The really popular aspect of the app is its mapping function. It allows you to zoom in on any global location to see what other Soundwave users are listening to, whether in the Bronx or Tokyo. Whilst this app has been endorsed by numerous celebrities, we believe it’s potentially a fad. We appreciate the essence of this app is all about discovery, but it is strongly hindered by the fact that you can’t create playlists and you can’t listen to whole tracks initially without calling from YouTube. After a while even the mapping function may get boring. Also it’s a killer on your battery as Soundwave remains in active status all the time.
7) Vevo: Definitely appealing to the younger end of the age spectrum. This app enables you to watch music videos, stream live concerts and discover artists for free. Three of the 4 biggest music distributors all contribute content. It also allows you to create playlists and has a nice interactive map feature, which allows exploration of popular content in other parts of the world. You’d think why wouldn’t you just use YouTube, but Vevo is much more streamlined and not overloaded with clips of absolutely everything the way YouTube is, which makes it easier to find what you want. In fact, YouTube calls a lot of content from Vevo in its algorithms. So why hasn’t Vevo infiltrated the older market? In a nutshell, the perception is that Vevo only contains mainstream music; not very appealing if you have broader tastes outside of chart music.
8) WhatsApp: This is an instant messenger sending texts and images. Nearly everyone we talked to mentioned this app. There are competitors to it, but its popularity seems to originate from its first to market status. It has an easy interface and especially popular are its easy to create groups. This allows you to disseminate your message out to multiple people at once; great for organising a night out.
9) Viber: Is also a messenger, giving you free calls, texts and photo sharing. It doesn’t allow for video calls however. Whilst popular, there is a perception that it isn’t stable for calls and tends to be a little more glitchy. Images also can’t be properly manipulated/pinched. Tendency seems to be to have both Viber and Whatsapp installed and usage depends on who you are contacting and what app they have.
From the Vizeum research, some clear insight and consideration also came through for marketeers considering creating a branded app.
- Free: Make the app free, or at minimum under €1. Overwhelmingly the consensus amongst this audience, is that majority of apps should be free. The view was that most apps have competitors so why pay for one, when with a little digging you can find an equally reputable free app. Unbeknownst to them, a value equation seems to be churning in their heads, balancing their more limited funds against knowing that the app will either disappoint or they will get bored of it. When pressed, up to a Euro for something really worthwhile would be acceptable.
- Purposeful:The common thread amongst all the apps that had traction were that they served a valuable function. They ranged from harnessing information typically in the form of entertainment or sport, from enabling connections with friends to making their life easier. Examples in the more functional space are AIB mobile banking, McDonald’s, Dublin Bus or Hailo. With limits on memory space, this audience are uncompromising and regularly purge their phones of apps which aren’t meeting their needs. Their boredom elasticity seems to peak around two weeks of frequent usage. Whilst you’d believe all apps targeting this audience should be games or tests of skill, that variant seems to be the most fleeting and hardest to gain a solid foothold in. Games, outside of the likes of ‘Temple Run’ and ‘Angry Birds’ were seldom mentioned spontaneously.
- Push: iTunes recommendations and word of mouth through friends offer your app the best chance of success. Hence to succeed, you need to infiltrate social spaces, engage bloggers and try to target the earliest of adopters through clever click to download media buys.
- Balance: With a short attention span and boredom levels high, it’s essential to balance production costs verses the potential lifespan of your app. If you do produce a simple branded game, you should expect this younger audience to tire of it relatively quickly. An acceptable value to production cost ratio needs to be set.
Overall, rather than be fearful of being left behind, embrace the above apps. They not only have implications for marketing campaigns but also in many cases are useful and some a lot of fun.