Emojis. Group texts. Streaming video. And of course, smartphones. Australian millennials may jump from job to job or city to city, but their love for and dependence on their smartphones remains constant. We’ve got new research for marketers on how, when, and why millennials use their smartphones.

Written by
Lisa Bora
December 2015

Keeping pace with the rapidly changing behaviours of the modern consumer can be daunting for marketers. To get a better understanding of mobile behaviour in particular, we conducted a survey, in partnership with Galaxy Research, of smartphone users aged 18–64 across Australia.

We found that people don't go online anymore; they live online. This is especially true for millennials: 89% say they access the internet on their smartphones more often than they used to, but in shorter bursts (which is significantly higher than the 66% of baby boomers who report the same behaviour).

The ability to get information anytime, anywhere with a smartphone has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. And millennials are leading the way on this paradigm-shifting behaviour.

Millennials want it now—or not at all


Smartphones are ruling the day in large part because they allow people to get information faster, from wherever they are. Instead of "better late than never," millennials may say, "if not now, forget it."

Millennials rely on their smartphones over laptops or PCs 1.6X more than Gen-Xers and 2.5X more than baby boomers.

For millennials, smartphones are now more important than laptops or PCs for searching for information, ideas, and advice. Thirty-six percent most frequently use their smartphones for these tasks, compared with 15% who use their laptops or PCs most frequently.

Millennials rely on their smartphones over laptops or PCs 1.6X more than Gen-Xers and 2.5X more than baby boomers.

Smartphone usage by generation

Across the board, millennials outpace other generations for smartphone usage. From shopping and comparing products, to picking a restaurant (the pressure to find that perfect spot is real), to keeping up with the latest fashion, millennials turn to their smartphones more frequently than any other group.


People of all ages repeatedly turn to their smartphones as they go about their day, so online behaviour is fairly constant throughout the day. Millennials, however, are more likely to snuggle up with their smartphones in bed, both early in the morning and late at night. In fact, their obsession with phones is so strong that 47% use their phones while in bed.

Mobile appears all along the path to purchase


Millennials reach for their smartphones all along the path to purchase, primarily for help with making decisions. And for brands, being present in these I-want-to-buy moments is key.

For 67% of millennials, using search results allows them to focus on a limited number of brands, and 61% have discovered and bought new brands they had little knowledge of previously. On the flip side, 55% will ignore brands that don’t show up in their searches or have poor reviews.

Reach millennials where they are: on mobile

To keep up with this highly sought-after audience, marketers can follow these simple recommendations:

1. Adjust media plans to reflect the massive shift to mobile. As consumers spend more and more of their time on mobile, media budgets should shift to match.

2. Be helpful when people are looking for information. When millennials use their smartphones to look for things like restaurant ideas, travel tips, and product reviews, be there with helpful content and a user-friendly mobile site.

3. Have a robust search presence. Now that millennials make purchase decisions in intent-rich micro-moments, it’s more important than ever for your brand to be there.