The Mobile Lives of Millennials in Latin America

Millennials in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina are making it a priority to stay connected. Whether that means toggling between devices or checking Facebook first thing in the morning and last thing at night, many are willing go that extra mile. And as the world’s first generation of digital natives and the largest generation, by population, in Latin America, Millennials are a driving force in the region’s evolving mobile landscape.

To illuminate the most important shifts, Facebook commissioned a study from global media analytics expert comScore. We explored how and why Millennials (defined as people ages 13–34 in this study) connect across the 3 most populous Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. We found that mobile is now clearly the first screen for Millennials in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina—and that there are interesting (and actionable) differences in the ways Millennials in each country access and use mobile.

We recently spoke with Gabriel Gontijo, Audience Researcher for Latin America at Facebook, who led this study. The insights he shared shed new light on how Millennials are connecting today and what it all means for marketers. Excerpts from our conversation follow.

 

Q: Did the study reveal any insights around how media consumption and mobile usage are shifting?

 

Gabriel: Yes. It’s an interesting time for marketers because the shift from traditional to mobile is taking place before our eyes. For example, less than a third of the people in our study regularly engage with newspapers and magazines. In contrast, engagement with digital is high and happens across multiple devices. 86% of the Millennials in our study use a mobile device to access Facebook, 69% use a computer and, perhaps most interestingly, 59% use Facebook while watching TV.*

What this all tells me is that people are primarily accessing Facebook on mobile, but there are also other screens that matter, too, depending on where someone is and what connections are available. We’re looking at a multiscreen landscape—which actually gives brands an amazing opportunity to engage Millennials across multiple touchpoints and deliver a more immersive and relevant experience than ever.

 

Q: What finding surprised you most in the research?

 

Gabriel: It was really striking to see just how connected Millennials in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina are and how they are growing as they take advantage of evolving technology. In our study, we looked at Millennials who are Facebook users and found a remarkable level of engagement—90% access Facebook every day. Just to put that in context, only 87% conduct an online search every day and only 72% watch TV daily.

 

Facebook IQ Millennials LATAM

Q: Did the study offer any insight into why  Millennials in Latin America value being constantly connected?

 

Gabriel: When asked about the role that Facebook plays in their lives, Millennials in the study cited their top reasons as reconnecting with old friends, staying up-to-date with things that matter to them and seeing what their friends are interested in. Whether they are motivated by old friends, current friends, individual interests or shared interests, for these Millennials, there’s always a reason to connect. Perhaps that’s why 42% log in to Facebook first thing in the morning and 54% log in last thing at night.

 

Q: That raises an interesting question—where are Millennials connecting from?

 

Gabriel: We know that the vast majority in the study (89%) actually access Facebook at home. Now, this could be on mobile or on desktop. But the finding that home is the most common point of access is interesting because it speaks to the connectivity challenges that Millennials across Latin America often face—from prohibitively high data costs to spotty service. When you consider that Millennials, when out and about, are constantly searching for WiFi, it makes sense that home is such an attractive place to connect to Facebook.

That said, when we think about the 23% who connect to Facebook while commuting, I picture people on the bus logging on to post a status update or check out a photo—and doing it as quickly as possible so as to minimize data charges. Marketers that understand these moments of contextual usage have a great opportunity to action against them. For example, a marketer may wish to serve video ads in the early morning and evening, when people are at home and have a solid WiFi connection. And during the day, the right creative would be something more data-light, more snackable, like photos and other images. That way, brands will be able to make a visual impact, but in a way that reflects how people are actually able to access data throughout the day.

 

Q: All in all, did the research find that the mobile landscapes of the 3 countries are more similar or different?

 

Gabriel: There are several pronounced similarities across countries. We saw consistently high mobile penetration, high levels of daily engagement with Facebook and the growing prominence of multiscreen experiences. At the platform level, Android is really dominating, accounting for 74% of devices used to access Facebook.* And in contrast to, for example, the US, iOS adoption is pretty low (just 8%).*

The differences lie in how people use mobile and access media. Mexico has the most developed mobile landscape, with 88% of people accessing Facebook on mobile. Out of the 3 countries, it also has the lowest percentage of people accessing Facebook from home. There’s also a really interesting shift taking place in Mexico in that the number of Millennials who watch online video every day (61%) is now the same as the number of people who watch TV every day (62%).

In terms of its mobile development, I’d say that Colombia is somewhere between the other 2 countries, straddling new technology and old habits at the same time. For example, 67% of Millennials in Colombia watch online video every day, putting them ahead of their Mexican counterparts—but they also report watching a lot more traditional TV, too. In terms of mobile devices, Millennials in Colombia are the least likely to use a feature phone—yet you’ll still find people on Blackberry, which has all but vanished from the other countries.

At the far end of the spectrum, you have Argentina, where 19% of Millennials in our study use feature phones (and the number of people accessing Facebook on iOS is minimal).* But as the country’s economy develops, so too will its mobile landscape.

 

Q: What’s the one thing marketers should take away from this research?

 

Gabriel: Looking at Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, we actually have a window into 3 countries at unique stages in their mobile development. I would encourage marketers to consider where these differences present opportunities to personalize.

Brands seeking to connect with Millennials in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina should be as “mobile first” as the Millennials they are trying to reach. Brands need to put mobile at the center of their business strategy. And in doing so, it’s important to recognize where each country is in its mobile evolution. For example, marketing to Millennials in Argentina may mean finding a strategic role for feature phones in your campaign. In Colombia, it’ll be about embracing both old and new screens to deliver multiscreen magic across TV and mobile (and sometimes desktop). And lastly, brands that want to connect with Millennials in Mexico will want to take full advantage of the expanding opportunity around online video.

 

For further reading, check out the Spanish-language post on the Facebook for Business blog.

 

Source: “Digital Natives” by comScore (study commissioned by Facebook), Mar–Jun 2014. Sample of 2,916 people on Facebook ages 13–34.
*Facebook internal data, Jan 2015.