If you’re building an app today, you need to think ahead. Generation Z’s spending is purported to reach 80 million with 200B+ by 2018. Born into the age of apps, this generation will decide the economy of the future. Thus, it is best to be keenly aware of their preferences and needs; how will they find your app and why they will decide to hit delete.
To better understand how Generation Z discovers and abandons mobile apps, the ROKO Labs team recently conducted a survey comprised of two questions:
- How did you find out about the last app you installed?
- What was the reason for the last time you uninstalled an app?
We received 107 responses from males and females between the ages of 15 and 25. Below are the key highlights and insights collected from the responses. First, we’ll start with the top five sources of app installs for Generation Z.
How Generation Z Discovers Apps
While Generation Z has been born into an era of widespread app and internet use, they still rely on the same methods of app discovery as that of previous generations. According to our survey, 62% of these post-millennials found out about the last app they installed through a friend. One of the easiest ways to expand brand awareness and engagement is having a referral program in place that can attract new customers because you let existing users do the marketing for you.
The difference between generations may lie in the definition of “friend”. For a Generation Z-er, the lines between friend and follower may be blurred as an online follower may have a similar influence as an in-person friend.
“I would definitely check out a recommendation for an app from a long-time follower,” said Gen Z-er, Katelyn Rielly, “while I may value an in-person contact’s recommendation more, I am open to suggestions who I rarely see, but connect with regularly on Snapchat or Instagram.”
The key to promoting organic growth through word-of-mouth can be accomplished through a series of clever and well-designed incentives devised by app creators. While traditional give-get models are effective with buy one get one or a percentage off promotions, some app creators may need to be more creative in order to create a successful referral program that has a better fit for their business model. This can be anything from access to premium features, a decreased waiting period for products or services, or a set of emojis. You can also customize the referral for specific user segments and provide elite levels—rewarding top ambassadors for their referrals will encourage these users to keep up their app loyalty and usage.
Check out the chart below for the full results, and below it is insight on the other top four sources of app installs.
Facebook and Instagram Ads (9%)
According to a Pew Research Study published in April 2015, 92% of Generation Z’s reported going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly”. The study also found that Facebook was the most popular platform. While advertising on Facebook is reportedly the second most effective way to advertise with demographic targeting currently unparalleled by other platforms, there are many challenges ahead. The first is that many Gen Z-ers are slowly spending less time on their newsfeeds and more time on messenger, which does not yet have a strong ad platform, but may follow in the footsteps of WeChat. Secondly, the price of Facebook advertising has risen dramatically in the last three years as the company leverages its platform to increase company revenue. Hence, the price may not be worth the value you receive. Beyond this, Facebook recently announced a change in its ad algorithm to the detriment of its advertisers.
Online Blogs, Podcast and/or Video (7%)
Content is still king- online blogs, podcasts, and videos are the third most important discovery channel. Podcasts of all types have especially been on the rise - the Washington Post reports that podcast downloads have surpassed one billion, with over 75 million podcast listeners each month. The benefit of blogs such as Tumblr and Medium, and podcasts, are that they can position you even more as an expert in your field while focusing on niche aspects of your app. They can explain things that are too meaty for your website and improve your SEO. Blogs and podcasts facilitate in the creation of a community around your app, resulting in more installs.
App Store Search (6%)
Due to the high saturation of apps, the app store is often viewed as well past its golden age. Despite this, it’s still a great method for acquiring users, as it is responsible for over 6% of app installations of Generation Z. App store optimization is a crucial tool for app creators as getting apps to rank higher in search results leads to more visibility. Good news for app creators, the app store has a promising development on the horizon. Coming out this Fall, the app store is launching its own search ads specifically for apps, and you can sign up for the beta to try it first. Gaining prominence within the app store could substantially boost installations.
Online Google Search (6%)
Tied at 6%, a handful of Gen Z-ers attribute their app installations to the results of an online Google search. Every year, people spend more and more time on their mobile devices and tablets, so it's imperative that your app’s website is compatible with mobile search engine optimization. Making your app’s website easily readable, with a design conducive to a small screen and easy touch-screen navigation, makes it mobile friendly and improves your SEO from the perspective of Google’s algorithms. Also, don’t forget the importance of Adwords campaigns--they may be old school, but can be much more reasonably priced compared to Facebook depending on your keywords.
Reasons Why Gen Z Uninstalls Apps
Getting Generation Z to download apps is only half the battle - user retention is just as important, if not more. Discovering why Generation Z-ers decide to part with apps can give marketers important insight into how they can influence continuous usage. There are a variety of reasons that Gen Z uninstalls apps - the top five are elaborated on below.
Took up Too Much Storage (27%)
During the early days of smartphones, 16GB was the preferred storage since cameras had lower resolution and apps didn’t take up much space. Today, smartphones, like the iPhone, still offer 16GB models on their latest models, but it poses a problem for the Generation Z-ers. While they like a lower price point, Generation Z-ers need more storage as higher-resolution cameras take up more space and apps continue to increase in size as they store different types of local data. As a result, Gen Z is being forced to choose which apps are most important to them and delete the rest to conserve space.
Didn’t Work/Made Poorly (2%)
Consumers understandably become annoyed when apps do not work the way they are supposed to, or when they are rife with bugs. Almost three-quarters of mobile apps are shipped out for distribution to the app store with anywhere between 1 to 10 bugs. 20% of these apps are even reported to have up to 50 bugs.
Too Many Ads or Notifications (1%)
While mobile users may still not fully accept the presence of mobile ads, companies are finding ways to make ads more engaging for varying user demographics. Acceptance of mobile ads is on the rise, but for consumers looking for an uninterrupted app experience, ads are still a reason to uninstall.
Used Too Much/Distracting (1%)
Americans check their phones an average of 17 times per day. Each of these visits lead to a total average of 4.7 total hours spent on your phone each day. Given the magnitude of this statistic, many mobile users are making conscious decisions to put down the phone for an hour each day, and this process is aided by the uninstallation of distracting and enticing apps.
Our findings from this study highlighted a number of reasons why Generation Z-ers download and uninstall apps. Most noticeably, Gen Z primarily downloaded apps through word of mouth and uninstalled apps that they rarely used or that were unnecessary and not valuable. Mobile marketers can use these findings to their advantage, devising methods to incentivize referrals and constantly creating updates to keep their app valuable and relevant. With a generation connected to their phone, it is crucial to find ways for users to find your app, engage with it, and become your brand ambassadors.