Is Your Dealership Focused on Your Mobile Customers?


shopping cart on a smartphone

New Nielsen data says it should be.

Nielsen recently released interesting data on the typical U.S. smartphone user. Targeting age and income, we learn that the smartphone is quickly transitioning from luxury to necessity.

Let’s dig into the numbers. Nielsen’s sample size is 20,000 mobile consumers, segmented by age and income. My three takeaways from the data.

  1. The younger generation considers a smartphone a necessity, including those just above the poverty level.
  2. When they can afford it, the older generation is adopting to new smartphone technology.
  3. Younger subscribers, new within the last three months, are choosing smartphones 8 out of 10 times. Compare this number with current subscribers of which less than 50 percent are smartphone owners.
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1. Younger generation: Smartphone = must have.

Let’s examine the 18-24 and 25-34 age group. While it’s no surprise that young high income earners choose smartphones, what should stand out is that 56 percent of 18-24 year olds and 43 percent of 25-34 year olds making less than $15k per year have a smartphone. That’s right, roughly half of young individuals surveyed who are only a few thousand dollars short of the 2011 poverty level of $10,890 made room in their budgets for the luxury known as a smartphone.

While income earners in the <$15k bracket should not be our focus demographic, I think there’s an important overall message:

The future generation considers smartphones a necessity. Period.

2. Older generation: I’ll adapt if I can afford it.

Age group 45-54 shows income earners in the $75k-$100k range opt for smartphones 51 percent of the time while 55-64 year olds in the same bracket choose a smartphone at a rate of 42 percent.

Takeaway? Smartphones aren’t just for the younger generation. Desirable demos in the older age bracket are increasingly considering this new technology essential.

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3. New subscribers are choosing smartphones rather than traditional mobile phones.

Nielsen’s graphic on smartphone penetration by age gives us an overwhelming look at new subscriber habits and their taste for smartphones.



Across all age ranges, new subscribers choose smartphones at a rate of 69 percent compared to 48 percent adoption for current subscribers. Segmenting the younger age ranges of 18-34 we see an adoption rate of 80 percent. That’s 8 out of every 10 new mobile phone subscribers between the ages of 18 and 34 choosing to purchase a smartphone over a traditional mobile phone. Wow.

I think this helps solidify the “trend” of smartphone penetration.

Compare Nielsen’s data to your franchise’s demographics. Is the adoption rate high?

Compare your target age demo in the penetration by age graphic. How much have recent subscribers adopted smartphones compared to current?

What are you doing about it? What steps has your dealership taken recently to cater to your customer on the go? How has mobile shaped your marketing plan for 2012?

Ben Anderson is the president of AutoMotionTV, a leader in mobile apps for dealers. Ben is a regular speaker on mobile for many automotive events including General Motor’s eSummit tour and JD Power Roundtable.

Michael Bowen

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