Why young adults are more connected than ever before and what this means for brands

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For today’s young adults (those aged 18-30), access to technology is, alongside education, seen as a critical component of progress and opportunity. A recent survey of 12,000 young adults across 27 countries for Telefónica found that this group believed that not only are they at the cutting edge of technology, but that this gives them a competitive edge.

For all brands it is increasingly important to understand how this group of connected consumers behaves, and how to engage them. Here is our summary of four key themes brands should learn from this research:

1. You need to design for smartphones

Globally, 76% of young adults say that they own a smartphone with the highest penetration in Asia (83%). In all markets, this is higher than desktop or tablet ownership; it is higher than laptop penetration in all markets but the US and Central & Eastern Europe. Brands need to be designing smartphone-first experiences for smartphone-first audiences.

2. Technology removes language barriers.

Just as the spread of literature, music, film and TV helped to remove (or lower) cultural barriers, technology removes language barriers. In each market studied, over 84% of young adults think that technology has removed language barriers to communication and meeting people – in Central & Eastern Europe this is as high as 94%. In an increasingly connected world information and ideas can flow more easily between people, and brands need to consider these lower linguistic barriers to any communication.

3. They want to understand technology even more.

Whilst their use of technology is strong, these young adults want to understand even more about technology and see that as a key to their own success. In each market, it was seen as the most important area of study (ahead of economics or foreign languages). This reflects an understanding that technology is not about understanding current devices and how they can help us, but the process of technology and the role it plays. For brands this will challenge their own relationships with new employees, who will enter the job market with an increasing understanding of and need to adopt new technologies in their work.

4. Technology has created a new “excluded”

Finally, these young adults believe that technology has widened the gap between rich and poor, with only those in Latin America thinking that it has made the gap smaller. Technology – education and devices – is seen as critical to success and so a lack of access to these is seen as a hindrance. Brands need be aware that whilst for many (if not most) of young adults there is an increasing role for and reliance on technology, there will continue to be an excluded group that they need to engage with too.

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