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August 18, 2016

Research Finds Large Gap Between Generations' App Usage

It’s no secret that millennials prefer texting and apps to actually picking up the phone and calling someone. They are constantly texting their friends, playing games or surfing social media. That’s why it’s no surprise that a recent study from Parks Associates found that 24 percent of millennials use mobile apps for calling a taxi or ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. This is significantly more than the13 percent of Gen Xers and 7 percent of Baby Boomers who use apps for the same purpose.

Millennials use mobile apps for more than just getting around, though. Research shows that more than 60 percent of millennials use mobile apps for banking or money management, compared to less than 50 percent of Gen Xers and one-third of Baby Boomers. Thirty-five percent of millennials also use mobile apps to book flights, hotels, or rental cars, while 38 percent order food and grocery deliveries via mobile apps. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m a millennial who is guilty of all of the above. Mobile apps just make all of these processes easier and quicker. There’s no waiting, no being put on hold and no having to rely on someone else to get your order right.

Some may argue that the difference in percentages is because older generations don’t use smartphones as often. Well, according to Connected CE, Apps, and Content Services: Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers, that’s actually not the case. It notes that 95 percent of millennials are smartphone owners, compared to 89 percent of Generation Xers and 74 percent of baby boomers.

So, since other generations do, in fact, use smartphones, the reason for this gap in mobile usage lies elsewhere. Perhaps it’s because millennials have a tendency to want what’s new, and subsequently grab hold of new technologies quickly. That’s what Harry Wang, senior director of research at Parks Associates, seems to think: “Millennials consistently adopt new technologies before their generational counterparts,” Wang said. “Currently, 41 percent of this group owns a streaming media player, compared to 39 percent of those in Generation X and only 26 percent of baby boomers. Further, 5 percent of millennials have purchased a virtual reality headset, while Generation Xers account for 2 percent of purchases and baby boomers account for only 1 percent.”

Whether millennials are more apt to use mobile for services because it’s the cool new thing to do or because it’s simply easier, the fact remains the same that there is a rather large gap between generations when it comes to mobile app usage. Millennials were the first generation to truly grow up surrounded by technology, and that was bound to affect the way they interact with the world. While there is something to be said for doing things the old fashioned way, the technology exists to make life easier, so why not use it?

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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