“Dumb” Phones Are Young Consumers’ New Digital Detox

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Millennials & Gen Z aren't afraid to admit it—they're addicted to their smartphones. Could a credit-card-sized, not-so-smart phone reverse their slide into Black Mirror-level tech use? We talked to The Light Phone's CEO & co-founder to find out...

Tech addiction is real, and unsurprisingly, young consumers struggle most. Ypulse data shows over two in five 13-35-year-olds say they’re addicted to social media and six in ten say they’re addicted to their phones. So they're questioning the role of smartphones in their (and their kids') lives, seeing them at best as useful tools they use too often and at worst, the beginning of a dystopian future à la Black Mirror. In reaction to the digital overload, many are seeking digital detoxes, applying their minimalist outlook to their devices. Adweek reported that one camp requires campers to put away their devices for four days and engage in fitness activities, while NYP highlighted the vacation companies that confiscate travelers’ smartphones and sell out their trips as a result.

Tech and social media companies are reacting to the backlash, creating controls they hope can curb concerns while keeping customers clicking. Apple fleshed out their parental controls while Facebook changed their newsfeed algorithm to reduce time spent, which could trigger ripples in an industry that abides by the mantra: “the more screen time, the more revenue,” reports the Wall Street Journal. And most recently, Wired took a deep dive into Google’s new collection of Android features that they’ve dubbed “digital well-being.”

But while major companies are trying to undo their damage, smaller companies are rising up to tackle the problem head-on. One such company can thank a Google incubator for its birth, where two employees came up with the idea for minimal, new…


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Quote of the Day: “I actively avoid discussions of TV shows.”—Male, 31, MI

Networks are launching an onslaught of new streaming services to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. CBS, Disney, and now Warner Media are hopping on the bandwagon to compete for young cord-cutters' viewing time. The digital switch makes sense, considering 74% of 13-36-year-olds told Ypulse they watch Netflix weekly, versus 33% who watch cable weekly. But one eMarketer analyst predicts this over-saturation in the streaming wars will lead to “a shakeout," in which companies will be weeded out unless they consolidate their offerings. (THR)

Macy’s is putting virtual reality in 90 stores, with the “largest VR rollout in retail history.” Shoppers can don HTC Vive VR headsets to create 3D floor plans, design their living spaces, deck them out with Macy’s furniture, and then take a step inside of the room. The retail tech enables smaller Macy’s stores to offer a lot more inventory to shoppers, and follows in the footsteps of other reality-bending home décor brands. And, according to Macy’s, VR sales were 60% higher than regular sales in their three pilot stores. (MediaPost)

Prada is plotting a comeback among young consumers. They’ve been slow to adapt to digital, but now the luxury company is emphasizing Instagram and aiming to grow their online sales, which were just 5% in early 2018. While investors applaud Prada’s dive into digital, they also believe the brand needs to shutter several stores—not just to increase “profitability” but to create “the illusion of scarcity.” Prada also has to recover from being late to the luxury streetwear game. (Bloomberg)

Some teens are opting for technical school over four-year universities. At Queens Tech, high schoolers are trained to take on non-desk jobs, like being an electrical engineer or working for public transit companies. Earning a high paycheck that isn’t chipped away by student debt is helping to overcome the societal stigma of skipping college. According to one Queens Tech student, “If you’re a construction worker, you may get paid the same as a doctor, but you don’t look as good.” (Vice)

Don't expect to see macho men and swooning women in grooming brands' latest ads. Instead, companies across the industry are toning down the machismo for Millennial & Gen Z males. Some are blurring gender lines, like Dollar Shave Club, whose “Get Ready” spots debunked stereotypes by not just casting straight, cis males. Other brands are betting modern men are more in touch with their emotions, like Gillette, who shared the touching story of a man’s son becoming an NFL linebacker, despite missing one hand.
(Ad Age)

Quote of the Day: “[Zendaya] is such a beautiful human being and I grew up watching her on the Disney Channel.”—Female, 18, TX

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