Who is typical smartphone user?

Who is typical smartphone user?

A “Smartphone User” is almost as ephemeral as “Average Joe”, or a “Millenial.” When you hear it, you picture a youngster, who treats her phone as an additional limb and doesn’t ever put it down. How does she play with it? Probably chats with friends, sends snaps and updates Facebook status. I decided to take a glimpse at typical “smartphone users” habits and behavior – a well-known statistic that 90% of mobile time is spent in apps and the rest 10% in browsers is not enough to build a full user picture. After all, a person who addresses her marketing actions to “smartphone users” should know them like the back of her hand… or even better.


What do we use smartphones for?

As it was already mentioned, 90% of the mobile time we spend in apps. What do we do is (source):

  • 19% Facebook
  • 12% Messaging/ Social
  • 20% Entertainment (3% of overall time is YouTube)
  • 15% Games
  • 8% Utilities
  • 4% Productivity
  • 2% News
  • 10% Others

The time spent for particular activities pictures like (source):

  • 14% Social networks
  • 9% TV/ Video/ Telecom
  • 7% Communication
  • 6% Games
  • 6% Maps/ navigation
  • 6% Music
  • 5% Shopping
  • 5% Device utilities
  • 4% Email
  • 3% Sports/ Weather/ News
  • 3% Business/ Productivity
  • 2% Books/ Magazines
  • 2% Finance/ Banking
  • 28% Others

As you can see, apps’ main purposes are social networks, communication, and widely understand entertainment. Informative and cognitive values are on the second plan.

It wasn’t always like that. According to The Nielsen Company’s research from 2010, main categories of downloaded apps were: games (61%), weather (55%), maps and navigation (50%), social networks (49%) and music (42%) (source)

The question is: what do we do with the remaining 10% of the mobile time. What do we search via smartphones (source)?

  • 62% of users looked for health related information
  • 57% performed online banking operations
  • 44% searched for real estate listings
  • 43% were interested in finding information about job
  • 40% sought for government information and services
  • 30% took a part in sort of classes or accessed educational content
  • 18% applied for a job.

Mobile web browsers are used for finding information and for accessing finance services.


What else do we use smartphones for?

When we skip out the standard Q&A, we gain a unique insight into mobile users (especially smartphone users) behavior, and thus we can precisely extrapolate profiles of “average data-eaters.” In the abovementioned Pew Research Center’s inquiry, the most frequent answers to the question “what do you use your smartphone for” were:  

  • 68% – tracking breaking news
  • 67% – sharing movies, photos, and comments related to local events
  • 56% – staying up-to-date with local events and activities

When asked why they used smartphones, respondents (especially younger ones) said that their phones help them avoid boredom, avoid other people and… find the best way to get to a place. Last answer refers to another important smartphone functionality – city navigation:

  • 67% of users use smartphones to find a way in a city
  • 25% looks for information about public transportation
  • 11% books transport services (taxi, carpooling, etc.)


What motivate us to use smartphones?

Smartphones fulfill diverse needs. According to Harvard Business Review scientists (source), we can highlight 7 categories of reasons to use a smartphone. The most important is looking for entertainment and “me time” (46%). Remaining 6 are:  

  • socialization(19%)
  • shopping(12%)
  • accomplishing tasks (11%)
  • preparation, e.g. for a flight (7%)
  • information searching (4%)
  • self-expression (1%).


Users vs. ads

Mobile device gives marketers numerous opportunities to reach potential customer: from the plain banner, through mailing to push notification. Nonetheless, the smartphone is a personal item. We check it 85 times per day. More than a half of this activity (55%) we don’t notice – it’s automatic behavior (source). 65% of users check their phones within 15 minutes after awakening, and 64% scrolls this and that before sleep (source). It’s almost like a smartphone is an extra sense or limb. Because mobile devices accompany us on every step, we make them less irritating possible. So how users react to marketing actions?

  • 1 on 5 users installed mobile ad block (source)
  • 44% of consumers want to receive discounts and offers to a mobile device (source)
  • 90% of texts are opened within 3 minutes from receiving (ImpigeMobileStrategy.com), and text using brands successfully reach 95% of mobile users (GoMoNews.com)
  • texted coupons redemption rate is 10-times higher than printed ones (GoMobileBook.com)
  • 50% of users subscribe to push notification (source)
  • Up to 70% of users find all kinds of notification useful (source)
  • In March2016 email OR on different devices looked like this: Desktop – 19%, webmail – 26% and mobile – 55% (Litmus ”Email Analytics”)
  • 23% of emails opened on a mobile device were re-opened after by users (Campaign Monitor “Email interaction across mobile and desktop” )


The ROPO effect

ROPO stands for “research online, purchase offline.” Many of us do massive research before purchasing an item – we look for brand and product information as well as the best offer. We use smartphones for this purpose – especially while we are in brick and mortar stores and check the competitive bids. Mobile searches lead to actions:

  • 74% of users treats smartphones as shopping assistants (ImpigeMobileStrategy.com)
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to an action within 1 hour (MobileMarketer.com)
  • 9 on 10 mobile searches leads to any action. 50% of them leads to purchase (SearchEngineLand)



Mobile marketing is a relatively new branch. Users are still concerned about their data security. We store enormous amounts of data in our smartphones (source): contact data (82% of users), texts (78%), pictures and videos (75%) and voice mail messages (74%). Fortunately, the number of users storing passwords this way lowers – only 27% of them does that. Up to 30% of smartphone users have disabled the location tracking feature (source)  in order not to share too much information. We still don’t trust the mobile security systems enough.


Are Mars and Venus using a smartphone the same way?

Smartphones are used by all: men and women, old ones and young ones. The mobile world is egalitarian and doesn’t favor anyone, but different people use its resources for various reasons and do it in a very different ways. Pryor.com gathered various research results and pictured the new Jane Q. Mobile. Here’s what they deduced:

  • Women are more task-focused. They use technology because of what it does not for usage itself.
  • They also have less tolerance for the ugly interface and are more probable to abandon the app than to struggle with non-intuitive UI.
  • They do bigger research, while men buy more and also spend more via smartphone.
  • They also use social media for different reasons: women maintain social bonds, men do business. Maybe that’s why LinkedIn is the only social network used more by men than by women.
  • Depending on gender, types of mobile activities change. Women play, use social media and use texted coupons more. They also win when it comes to video watching, listening to the music and reading news in other services than social platforms. On the other hand, men purchase more and use GPS far more often than women.


As you can see, there is plenty information about mobile users – mobile marketing lives long enough to gather numerous researchers and polls. To use them well, one has to analyze them accurately, catalog them, and confront with live data in company’s CRM.To forge them in a successful mobile campaign, you’ll going to need proper database segmentation (use mobile marketing automation platform to achieve it), target group extraction and preparing a tailored campaign for each of these groups.


If you are interested in different group’s needs, read also: What Millenials want!