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European Gen Z and Millennials Are Using Apps Differently-Here’s How

A young person holding their phone and scrolling through pictures.

Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe spend more than six hours on their phones each day, but they don’t use mobile apps the same way…


  • Gen Z and Millennials use social media apps more than any other kind, but their use of other apps differs
  • Gen Z uses music apps more, while Millennials favor messaging and email apps
  • Financial apps rank high on the list for Millennials, but not so much for Gen Z

YPulse’s research shows that the majority of young consumers in Western Europe agree that they’re addicted to their phones. Millennials have gradually made phones a part of almost every aspect of their lives, while Gen Z has just never known what it’s like to not have one. But regardless of how old they were when they landed their first smartphone, both Gen Z and Millennials are completely hooked on their devices, which they use an average of six hours a day. And these gens use seven different apps on average each day—but what kinds are they most likely to be opening?

For YPulse’s recent Mobile App Behavior Report, we surveyed Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe to find out the types of apps they use, and their habits when it comes to downloading and using apps. Knowing what type of apps young Europeans use most can help brands make decisions on how and where to best reach them. And while there are similarities in the type of apps Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe use every week, but each gen also has some categories they’re more likely to be opening than the other:

Both gens use social media apps the most

Social media is the most-used type of app among young Europeans, and this is true for both Gen Z and Millennials, in all five Western Europe countries. This confirms just how important social media is for these gens, who tell YPulse they spend an average of 3.58 hours on socials every day. TikTok especially has changed social media as we know it, and its short video content provides endless entertainment to young Europeans. YPulse’s most recent trend report The TikTok Effect shows that the success of the app is not only influencing the type of content young consumers want to see on other platforms, but the future of online marketing, too.

When we ask young Europeans the main reason why they download an app in general, their top answer is because “it seems fun,” confirming that these gens expect to be entertained when they’re using most any mobile app. Smart brands are releasing mobile apps or features that are more gamified, playful, or video-focused to attract these gens. Dating app Hinge’s new “Video Prompts” feature is a great example of how a brand can keep up with these gens’ desire for entertainment on all types of apps.

WE Gen Z use music and gaming apps more than Millennials

 YPulse’s data from our recent Music Report shows that four in five young Europeans agree with the statement “music is an important part of my life,” and a lot of that music is mobile for young Europeans. But while it is true that both Gen Z and Millennials like to listen to music, Gen Z is using apps to listen to music more than the older gen. This can be explained by the fact that Gen Z in WE are more avid listeners of music on Spotify: 64% of Gen Z say they use Spotify regularly use to listen to music, compared to 59% of Millennials.

Gaming is another type of app that Gen Z turn to a lot more than Millennials: more than a third (37%) of Gen Z in Western Europe is using gaming apps, which is almost +10pts more than Millennials (28%). YPulse’s Hobbies and Passions Report shows that gaming is Gen Z’s third favorite pastime. YPulse has consistently reported the importance of gaming—and the metaverse—for these gens, a devotion that has only increased during the pandemic.

WE Millennials use messaging and email apps more than Gen Z

Millennials are far more likely than Gen Z to regularly be using email apps on their phones There are two reasons for this difference: For one, email was most Millennials’ entry point into digital communication, and using it is their norm, while Gen Z has grown up with texting, social media DMs, and have fewer reasons to use email. The second reason is lifestage: Millennials are more likely to be working, and needing to use email for that work. In fact, our Employment and Career survey found 65% of employed Millennials agree, “I’m always connected or available for work (e.g. via email or phone call, etc.).”

The majority of Millennials use finance apps, compared to not even a third of Gen Z

European Millennials grew up with the 2008 financial crisis, and it impacted the way they perceive traditional investments such as stocks, and housing. This gen also grew up with the rise of smartphones, and mobile apps have been a great resource to help them stay on top of their budget, discover new investments, and take care of their finances. The past few years have seen many finance apps successfully develop in Western Europe to help Millennials have control of their finances. GoHenry, a U.K.-based fintech company that helps young people invest and save their money, recently got funding to further develop in Europe. As a result, the majority of Millennials in Western Europe (53%) use a finance app, which is more than shopping apps or gaming. 

Gen Z is also savvy about gaining financial literacy, but unlike Millennials, finance apps are not their go-to quite yet, and only less than a third (29%) of Gen Z use this category of app. When it comes to learning about finances, Gen Z prefers to turn to social media. The recent success of #TaxTok (which raked up more than 360 million views) shows how social media—and especially TikTok—is helping Gen Z to learn about budgeting, investing, and other aspects of personal finance. With the cost-of-living crisis intensifying in Western Europe, many young consumers will continue to turn to finance apps, or social media hashtags for money management in the future.