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In Mobile Payment Adoptions, Millennials Lead

April 24, 2015


Craig Wigginton
Vice Chairman and US Telecommunications Sector Leader
Deloitte & Touche

Millennials are the first generation to enter adulthood with smartphone ownership as the norm, and they are the ones who put online social networking on the map. Craig Wigginton, vice chairman and US telecom sector leader at Deloitte & Touche, spoke with eMarketer’s Lisa Barron about the ramifications for marketers.

eMarketer: Millennials are notorious for the amount of media multitasking they do. Does this leave them too distracted to absorb a marketer’s message effectively?

Craig Wigginton: From my experience with millennials, they do have the ability to pull in lots of different media in lots of different ways. I think they’ve got a distinct ability to multitask in an effective way.

They’ve always had high expectations on smartphone device usage. They continue to be a driving force in the full mobile market. And from everything we’ve seen, they really overindex in almost all categories of questions we’ve asked in the global mobile consumer surveys—so devices, apps, service, payments and IoT [the internet of things]. They’re always willing to try new things and experiment. They’re also willing to deal with a few hiccups along the way, which is always helpful, because every time you try something new there tends to be a couple of hiccups.

They seem less concerned with privacy and more willing to share info and insights. So that makes them prime candidates for some of these hotter and innovative services coming down the pike.

eMarketer: How concerned are they about privacy?

Wigginton: Overall, one of the most fascinating things I saw in this year’s survey with millennials is that we have in it what we would call our addicted-to-connectivity obsession or device obsession. Twenty-four percent of the millennials check their smartphone immediately upon waking, and that was excluding the alarm feature. That jumps to 52% within 5 minutes of waking. Almost half of the millennials—45%—check it more than 200 times a day.

Social is one of the most important mobile uses for millennials. Out of the top three activities that we asked about for what people are accessing first on their mobile device, millennials have social networks ranked in the top three. It’s ranked at No. 2, whereas most of the other generations had it ranked as three or four.

They show a much greater desire to use their mobile device as a payment mechanism vs. any other generation. Nearly half of the millennials—48%—indicate an interest in making payments. I think they are really going to be early adopters and help drive a lot more of the mobile payment penetration in the US.

eMarketer: In general, do millennials want to initiate contact with a brand via social media as opposed to having the brand reach out to them?

Wigginton: From my experience and some other research in the marketplace, I see them making the original contact with a brand. But, they are a little bit more flexible when it comes to doing something with advertising than some of the older generations. Which is a positive thing. Doing something shows that there is some flexibility with push ads.

“Twenty-four percent of the millennials check their smartphone immediately upon waking, and that was excluding the alarm feature. That jumps to 52% within 5 minutes of waking.”

eMarketer: What about online reviews of goods and services? How important are they for millennials?

Wigginton: They’re in that list as well, still pretty strong. Not as strong as the recommendations from someone they know through other social media means, but still gaining importance, particularly among millennials.

eMarketer: Millennials have gone through a lot of digital media and a lot of devices in a short time. Do you see their appetite for the next new thing waning at any point?

Wigginton: The younger generations always wants the new and hottest device. They want better features and functionality, they want the hottest thing, even just for a status symbol or a fashion statement. I don’t see any signs of that waning.

In our latest predictions report, we’re showing that there’s going to be over a billion smartphone upgrades this year. Those numbers are huge. So there really is no sign of that market deteriorating at all.

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