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Mobile millennials aren’t big on using their devices for purchases. In a June 2015 study by MocoSpace and Social Lens Research, nearly two-thirds of US millennial mobile phone users said they did not make purchases on their phones. Just 23% used the mobile internet to buy via such devices, and fewer than a fifth used apps to do so.
While it’s certainly true, then, that millennials aren’t really buying on mobile, this isn’t actually more true of this group than of anyone else. For the most part, mobile shopping remains an upper-funnel affair for the masses.
Despite low mobile purchasing, millennials are actually more keen on smartphone apps than older users. In Q4 2014 research by King Retail Solutions, 61% of US millennial smartphone owners had downloaded at least one shopping-related app. While this still highlights plenty of room for adoption among this cohort, older age groups were less likely to have downloaded apps: Just over half of Gen Xers and four in 10 boomers had done so.
While millennials may have the reputation of being more mobile-savvy, they still struggle with some aspects when it comes to shopping: 35% polled by MocoSpace and Social Lens Research said they would like to buy more on their phones but that it was too hard. Similarly, in a January 2015 study by Fluent, 36.4% of US smartphone users ages 18 to 24 said mobile shopping was only easy some of the time or never easy, as did 38.7% of those ages 25 to 44. However, these figures weren’t all that different from respondents in older age groups: Around 48% of those ages 45 to 64 and 65 and older said the same.
Relatability could help companies convert the young cohort into mobile buyers. When Social Lens Research and MocoSpace asked millennial mobile phone users why they were more likely to buy from certain companies, one-third said it was because they had ads they could relate to. Similarly, ads that understood millennials’ values and priorities, respected their culture or invested in their community and favorite charities were each cited by more than a fifth of respondents. However, even if companies include these traits in their mobile efforts, they shouldn’t hold their breath: 35% of respondents said none of the reasons provided would boost their purchase intent.
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