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Mobile Social Affects UK Millennials' Path to Purchase

UK smartphone penetration is the highest among this demographic

Millennials represent a huge proportion—nearly 23%—of the UK population. But while large in number, this age demographic is also under the greatest financial strain. Despite this, mobile phone—and particularly smartphone—ownership is considered almost compulsory. For many UK millennials, mobile devices function as something of a handheld personal assistant, and an indispensable one at that, performing a number of practical functions, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Millennials and Mobile: The Key Device in a Digitally Dominated Life.”

UK millennials have a much higher level of smartphone ownership and usage than any other age group in the country. Unsurprisingly, they also overindex on mobile internet usage. With their high mobile engagement, the demographic’s receptiveness to marketing via mobile, while not a given, is relatively high as well. In particular, this cohort is open to listening to brands via social media on their mobile phones, at least compared with their older counterparts. Indeed, in a good many cases, mobile social plays a role in the path to purchase among this younger group.

Smartphones are by far the most popular device UK millennials use for social media. July 2013 data from Kinetic Worldwide indicated that 54% of 18-to-34-year-old social users employed their smartphone as the main device to access social media; the PC ranked No. 2, at 38%.

As millennials are highly engaged with social media on their smartphones, they are open to marketing influence via such channels. In March 2013 polling by comScore MobiLens, the most cited mobile advertising activity among UK smartphone users was reading social network posts from organizations/brands/events, mentioned by 56.2% of 18- to 24-year-olds. And besides reading posts, many of these millennials were acting directly on advertising, with 26.7% stating they clicked on a social network ad and 25.3% receiving a coupon/offer/deal via social.

More than simply engaging with advertising via mobile social, findings suggest that social networks are playing a key role in the path to purchase among UK millennials.

June 2013 data from technology provider Vision Critical indicated a very strong link between social media and mobile purchasing among millennials across Canada, the US and the UK; 68% of those 18 to 34 had made social media-inspired purchases via mobile, compared with just 24% of those 35 to 54. While UK-specific results were not broken out, one would expect them to be broadly similar to the combined results.


The full report, “UK Millennials and Mobile: The Key Device in a Digitally Dominated Life,” also answers these key questions:

  • How big is the UK millennial market, and how significant is mobile in millennials’ day-to-day lives?
  • What types of mobile behaviors do UK millennials display, and how are they influenced by financial concerns?
  • What implications do these types of behaviors have for marketers?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.

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