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How to Communicate with the App Generation?

May 2014
Soul & Mind Group Brand Design We have been accustomed to the fact that the emergence of the next generation of consumers usually resulted in new topics for marketing communication but generally it appeared in the same channels as usual – mass media. Since the launch of iPhone, we are living in the truly mobile era and a new generation, the so-called “App Generation” enters the market.

There must be an application for everything

Sociologists used to call them ‘Digital Natives’, ‘Y Generation’ or ‘Millennials’. But thanks to H. Gardner , Professor of Cognitive Sciences and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, we arrived at a new label: the App Generation . This young, first truly global generation growing up in the new millennium, deals with new technologies in a natural, innate way. Moreover, they perceive the world around them as a set of specific applications. Everything that’s important in the life of the App Generation, namely socializing, shopping, listening to the music or watching movies, has its own dedicated mobile application. If there’s no application for a specific reason, either someone will develop one or that ‘something’ is simply not important. Sometimes you can even get the impression that life is one big application ‘from cradle to grave'.

From now on, nothing will be as it used to be

From the effective brand communication perspective, the App Generation is important for three reasons. First of all, this generation is a living laboratory, where we can observe certain new forms of behavior which soon will be common for most of us. Just a few examples: five out of six Y Generation members fall asleep with their smartphone in hand; three out of five look at a smartphone screen whenever they got bored and there is nothing to do (just to kill the time). Besides, members of the Y Generation have more smartphones than laptops (USA), so most probably we are heading towards a generation favoring mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) over desktops and laptops. Secondly, the App Generation shops differently. According to the Social Diagnosis prepared by Professor Czapiński, every fourth Polish Millennial is a shopaholic. Millennials generally love to shop, they much appreciate the convenience and ease, which explains why Millennials in the West are twice as likely than their predecessors to shop in convenience stores. They are also incomparably more interested in mobile shopping, and when buying things, they often involve friends using smartphones (calling for advice, sending photos or searching for opinions about the brand on social networks).

Brand addicts want an application

Thirdly, Y Generation members are really passionate about brands. They are more inclined to declare brands’ importance, they prefer to share brand experience in social media (of course, using a dedicated mobile app). If you are launching a brand for the App Generation, remember that it must meet certain conditions: be responsible, work towards the welfare of underprivileged social groups and in particular, should not try to enter the world of Millennials using old techniques of ‘hard sell’. And yes, in many cases, the apps may be quite helpful. They might use the mechanism of a game, they might support the buyer (if she wants to compare prices, for example), or may facilitate the use of the product (tips for users, repair tips). It might be a lifestyle app (like Nike +), too. The range of possibilities is enormous.

Are these applications really so important?

Among the 100 most valuable brands in the BrandZ ranking, the application for clients offers nine out of ten. Just one company, Sony offers over 500 mobile applications associated with their products…


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