What Marketers Need To Know About ‘Mobile Prodigies’

The Mobile Prodigies are the emerging Gen Z and younger Millennials, who have never known a world without mobile. Verve Mobile and Wildness looked at their online-to-offline shopping behaviors.

The first generation of consumers who were practically born with a mobile device in their hands are starting to have a major impact on the shopping landscape.

A study by Verve Mobile with research consultancy Wildness took a close look at the shopping behaviors of “Gen-Z” — the group of people born in the early part of the century and sometimes called “post-Millennials” — and found some promising attributes that suggest brands’ omnichannel strategies may have even more appeal than previously thought.

For one thing, nearly all of the people who fall under the Gen-Z rubric — 95 percent — make in-store purchases based on ads they’ve seen on their mobile device, according to the study, The Rise Of Mobile Prodigies: Millennials, Gen Z, And The Future Of Mobile Marketing.

About 61 percent buy in-store based on a mobile ad at least monthly  — with almost a third of those consumers driven to in-store via mobile ads weekly.

Some of the other takeaways from the study:

  • The app economy is alive and vibrant
  • Innovative, imaginative and engaging creative is as important as ever
  • “Relevance” is the essential component of any ad or marketing touchpoint. It can even ease the all-consuming privacy issue that has been the hurdle for so much location-based advertising and attempts at personalizing the store environment via apps and search.

“Relevance is as important as ever, and when delivered well, relevance reverses concerns about data sharing — as long as the use of the data is transparent, and clearly for their benefit,” Verve CMO Julie Bernard tells GeoMarketing.

To achieve greater levels of relevance, marketers need to develop “a whole new level of sophistication” when it comes to defining that function, Bernard says, citing Verve’s and Wildness’s survey of 3,000 people aged 14–29 in addition to assembling a series of focus groups over the past few months.

It’s more than retargeting; it is all about what she calls “Anticipatory Personalization” — introducing content that the Mobile Prodigy didn’t even know that they would be interested in, but still finds a way to resonate with them and their interests at the moment.

“‘Predictive personalization’ treats the Mobile Prodigy as an ‘Individual,’ and using the data that we are capturing in ways that inspires them, and helps them explore things about themselves that they didn’t even know they wanted,” Bernard says.

Understanding Gen-Z’s Purchasing Power

The digital activity of Gen-Z is evolving. About 80 percent of Mobile Prodigies surveyed say they spend more time on mobile apps than they did one year ago;. And 74 percent report greater spending in the past six months. Among a younger subset of Mobile Prodigies, 84 percent of 14–17-year-olds spend more time on mobile apps than they did one year ago.

There was also some good news for developers in the area of app engagement.

“For Mobile Prodigies, app browsing and discovery is nearly compulsive — 60 percent of respondents in our study download one or more apps weekly (the equivalent of 3–5 new downloads per user, per month),” Bernard says. “They search for new apps in a number of ways, and app stores are still significant to the process.”

Nevertheless, if an app fails to serve their needs, it’s likely to be dropped — and rare for it to find its way back on to Mobile Prodigies’ phones.

Experiences — And Ads — Worth Saving

In terms of meeting that demand for “relevancy,” one strategy that includes the notion of predictive personalization involves uses of data to show marketers and brands all the lateral and associative opportunities these Mobile Prodigies provide.

Beyond serving a call-to-action around buying, for example, a bike, predictive personalization introduces special offers and new bike-related ideas.

A consumer can be introduced to new ride-snack options, a new brand of low- sugar/low-butter snack that is easy to pack and easy to digest on longer bike treks, the study suggests.

“Predictive personalization means we recognize the user’s individuality at these deeper levels of detail, and then we connect the user via retail apps to new offers, adding to their experience in ways they weren’t initially expecting.”

In the end, as Verve’s VP, Creative Director Walter T. Geer III wrote on GeoMarketing recently, next-gen mobile adds need to be models of function and aesthetic appeal. In other words, these consumers are way beyond “banner blindness.”

As the survey notes, nearly 90 percent of Mobile Prodigies said they’re annoyed by ads that interrupt their personal and professional mobile activities.

The solution Verve proposes: Save The Experience.

“With a tap, a Save The Experience ad is stored as an app-like feature on the smartphone’s home screen,” the report states. “The approach helps eliminate disruption when it comes to a user’s current activity. In our survey, 21 percent said they would screenshot a relevant ad for later, and 26 percent said they would send relevant saved screenshots to their peers.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.