By Alex Brown and Graham Richmond
We recently surveyed undergraduate business students to better understand their mobile and social media habits.
– Apple’s iPhone is the device of choice in this crowd. Smartphones provide increasingly ubiquitous access to the internet – students are spending more time on their device than they do watching traditional TV.
– Amazon stands out as the most important online retailer.
– Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, in terms of adoption, while Snapchat is accessed more frequently, with a more intimate set of friends.
The following data comes from a survey conducted to 130 undergraduate students, studying marketing, at the University of Delaware. We are planning a much larger study, this fall, that explores in more detail how people access information through their mobile device, when researching business schools.
In terms of how students gather their news, 58% stated that their primary source is “internet via a mobile device”. 26% noted that their primary source was “internet via a computer” while only 15% mentioned television as their primary source for current news. In terms of how this group gets its news from the internet, their social feed is their primary source (70%), versus a specific news site (23%) or a news aggregator (8.5%).
This data shows the increasing importance of the mobile device, no doubt as a result of it enabling ubiquitous access; it also illustrates the important role the social news feed is playing in terms of information consumption.
Smartphones: It’s all Apple
All the survey respondents, bar one, owns a smartphone. More interestingly, more than 90% own an iPhone. The first iPhone came out in 2007, a time when this group were in the market for their first smartphone. This was one of the first touchscreen smartphones, so no doubt Apple was able to gain good market share with this group early on. Clearly this group has stuck with the brand when upgrading to newer phones, a result of lock-in, despite other viable options entering the marketplace. Perhaps there is a third reason that this group is so enamored by the brand; the majority of their peers also use the brand.
58% of this group has more than 16 apps on their phone, yet 65% only use 4-6 apps on a daily basis. Despite the increasing time we spend consuming internet content via apps, the challenge is how to make sure your app content is part of the few apps that your target market actually uses.
Nearly 70% reported using their smartphone 16+ times a day to access the internet, while 18% report accessing the web from their phone more than 40 times a day. The smartphone has clearly given the internet the ‘legs’ it needed to go everywhere at any time.
The respondents also reported spending more time on their device accessing the internet (68% for 2+ hours, 5% less than 1 hour) versus watching a traditional TV, via a TV set (25% for 2+ hours, 38% less than 1 hour). While watching traditional TV, many reported being on a second device (26% always, 90% sometimes during programming). So TV is losing ground, and the TV watcher is becoming more distracted.
With the tremendous adoption of the smartphone, what appears to be lagging is its use for retail, for now. Only 66% reported making an online purchase from their smartphone, and only 67% had used their smartphone to aid in a traditional retail purchase. These percentages are high, but should get closer to 100% as this generation gets more adept in using their devices, and as retailers get more adept in understanding how to target this user. Apple’s recent announcement regarding the use of NFC in their next line of phones (via Apple Pay) may do a lot to speed up this process.
In terms of overall adoption, Facebook remains #1 with 120/122 reporting using the platform. Students also report more connections on Facebook (59% have more than 800 friends, 40% more than 1000 friends) than any other social media site. That being said, they reported accessing Facebook less frequently than other social media sites, other than LinkedIn, during the day (55% less than 5 times a day).
Surprisingly Snapchat has the next highest percentage of users (113/123, 92%), which is remarkable given the site was the most recent to launch (of those included in the survey), and its utility appears to be very niche focused (disappearing images). Students also reported that they had the least number of connections with this platform (other than LinkedIn), 70% reporting less than 100 connections. This platform appears to be a much more “intimate” platform, connecting closer friends together.
Instagram had a slightly higher adoption rate (81%) in this group than Twitter (75%). Students are on Instagram at about the same rate as they are on Twitter and Snapchat, per day (ten times a day).
LinkedIn only had 66% adoption within this group, with the lowest number of connections (less than 50 connections for 50%) and very little engagement (students access the site about once a week). This is likely due to the fact that LinkedIn seems to provide the greatest utility once a user has finished their undergraduate studies (or is nearly finished).
The web is 20 years old, Social media is 10 years old, touchscreen smartphones are 7 years old. Despite their youth, all three have had a profound impact on how this generation seeks information, undertakes commerce, and engages with each other.