4 App Habits of a Millennial

Millennials and their $200 billion of yearly buying power have brands searching high and low for ways to earn their attention. It has been an uphill battle thus far, as traditional marketing tactics don’t seem to resonate too well with these young consumers.

They grew up using DVRs to skip 30-second TV spots, they can’t be troubled to crane their necks and squint their eyes at billboard copy, and they’re the reason ad blocking exists.

With so much buying power at stake, I went straight to the source to try and crack the Millennial marketing code: an app called Yik Yak.

What Millennials Are ‘Yak-ing’ About

Yik Yak is a Millennial hotbed that allows users to send out thoughts — kind of like a tweet — and then encourages others to comment and vote “up” or “down” depending on whether they agree with the sentiments.

I posed a simple question to Yik Yakkers: “What do you expect from an app’s user experience?” Their responses will help marketers better utilize apps to connect to this demographic.

Here’s what I learned:

“I Do It for the Likes”

On the surface, a like might seem like a simple, mindless feature. However, recent studies reveal a deeper story behind this act of digital appreciation.

One study in particular describes how likes activate the brain’s reward center (known as the nucleus accumbens) — an area that is also stimulated by things like food, money, and social acceptance. Another study finds that browsing Facebook can evoke what is called a “flow state,” which is the feeling you get when you’re totally engrossed in a project or new skill.

All of these powerful and highly addictive feelings come instantly from just the click of a button, so it’s little wonder that Millennials have such a strong affinity for likes. This user experience (UX) feature has evolved into the social currency that validates a Millennial’s digital presence. Marketers who incorporate something similar to a like into their apps gain large psychological advantages.

“Can You Keep a Secret?”

Millennials are increasingly concerned about their social image and the damaging effects it can have on their future educational and employment opportunities. However, that doesn’t mean they want to constantly conduct themselves as if they’re being vetted by HR.

That’s why impermanence is such a popular UX feature for this demographic. Being able to express themselves authentically (without worrying about a public relations disaster) is paramount for Millennials. The fact that Snapchat automatically deletes images is a major reason for the app’s success — and you can achieve similar results by keeping your young users’ secrets under lock and key.

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“Where Are All of My Friends?”

Millennials will happily try just about any app that promises interconnectivity, community, and sharing opportunities. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram are hitting home runs in this area.

From location-based filters to Snapchat’s new feature that allows users to swap faces, these apps have become one-stop shops for checking out friends’ day-to-days in a way that is constantly refreshing and unique. It’s a combination of immediacy, intimacy, and fleetingness that drives so much interaction on these apps.

Building a community around your app — and allowing your Millennial users to connect with each other based on their locations and interests — is a recipe for success.

“I Need it Now”

In the age of binge-watching, patience is far from a virtue. Millennials want what they want as soon as they want it. Any other approach is just wasting their time.

Take a look at a typical night out for this demographic. Instead of dealing with the headache of hailing a cab, a Millennial presses a button on Uber and a personal driver comes to pick her up. It’s no big deal if she forgets to bring cash; she can use Venmo to pay back her friends with a click of a button. And once she and her friends get to the bar, they can log on to Tinder and swipe right until they find others ready to own the dance floor with them.

What These Habits Mean to Marketers

Convenience is the name of the game, and for a generation of people who view dial-up Internet as ancient history, convenience means “immediately.”

Millennials like things done a certain way: exactly how they want it, when they want it. With a strong focus on what drives them, marketers can cash in on this increasingly lucrative market.

Before we know it, Millennials will be our primary consumers; grabbing their attention today means success tomorrow.

 

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Ania Rodriguez

Ania Rodriguez has advised Fortune 1000 companies on user interface design, product design and user research for nearly two decades. Her company, Key Lime Interactive, masterminds all things usability for web, mobile, tablet and medical devices, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

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