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Young consumers drive mobile data growth

The Mobile Youth Report How is mobile data growth related to the youth market? That’s what mobile operators have been asking me recently. They’re interested in consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 or, more narrowly, from 18 to 22. Their own research indicates that the youth segment is valuable — and influences adult market segments. And the Mobile Youth Report agrees. Its 'Business Case for Youth' says: “The youth market is worth $1 trillion dollars. Youth drive high-end smartphone markets. Youth have the highest lifetime value of all customers.”

Youth brands build on the mobile data experience

To improve their relationship with young consumers, some mobile operators are now investing in new youth brands specially designed to attract those customers. For example, “48,” named for the 48-month period between the ages of 18 and 22, offers a new wave of mobile services targeted at this particular age group. (And it’s promoted by a clever video campaign.) Instead of focusing on subscriptions, this Irish youth brand provides low-cost membership in the 48 community. Members can get affordable calling and mobile data services, including texting, mobile Internet access, and online support, with a customer care agent who will respond within 24 hours. On top of all that, 48 is encouraging members to expand their community by giving “Kickback” to members and any friends who join.

Leverage youthful brands to draw in the mass market

But there are other ways to connect with the youth market, too. The Mobile Youth Report on youth branding says: “You don’t have to be a Youth Brand. Most popular brands with youth are Youthful not Youth brands (e.g. Starbucks, Apple, Facebook). Youthful means open to ideas and dialogue.” The report makes clear that “the next big thing” — such as SMS, Facebook and Instagram — always starts in the youth market. Then it spreads later to the mass market, including adult market segments. The recent “un-carrier” events launched at T-Mobile USA are good examples of how to get noticed by the youth segment — in this case, through the CEO’s twitter account and the company’s Facebook and Instagram campaigns on “Break-up Letter” and “Rebel Maker.” These communications are gaining a lot of attention from young consumers.

Promote the “mobile data first” experience

But no matter which approach mobile operators take to creating a brand, they need to craft specific offers that promote the “mobile data first” experience. Young people may not have much money. But they are eager to use mobile data on the go, especially anywhere they can find public Wi-Fi. As a result, 3G and 4G LTE mobile operators need to focus on making the “mobile data first” experience part of young consumers’ daily habits. So this market segment stops feeling afraid to use mobile data — and starts feeling comfortably in control of what they use and when they use it. Can you offer other examples of successful youth brands vs. youthful brands? Do you agree that the youth segment influences adult mobile data usage? Why or why not? Send me an email at If you like this article, please feel free to share it. Next week, I will offer insights on 10 ways to expand mobile data growth through the youth market.

Daisy Su

About Daisy Su

Daisy heads the marketing for all Nokia’s award-winning device management solutions for mobile, home, and IoT, as well as marketing for the software as a service (SaaS) offers. Daisy also happens to be an inventor with 3 US patents and a co-author in the Bell Labs Technical Journal.

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