Which native apps are most popular with millennials

What makes millennials shop is a question plaguing retailers rolling out native apps in the hopes to better engage with this critical demographic. And it's working as younger shoppers cite convenience, value and ease of use as the reasons why they use the apps from their favored retailers.

Pixlee surveyed more than 1,600 millennials on their usage of native mobile apps. Nearly half, or 47 percent, claimed to have downloaded a mobile shopping app on their phone, although males did so at a slightly higher rate.

Amazon, Etsy, Forever 21 and Wanelo are among the most popular native apps with younger shoppers. Cross-category retailers with deep inventory dominate app use. Forever 21 is an outlier here, perhaps dues to its role as a favored fast-fashion brand with high sell-through rates, according to Kyle Wong, founder and CEO of Pixlee.

These retailers, with the exception of Forever 21, dominate app usage across all ages, Wong notes.

There was some variance among subsets of millennials by age group. Slightly older millennials included Groupon on their list of favored apps. Men liked JackThreads and Starbucks, while women favored Modcloth and Forever 21.

And just like many shoppers, value is of critical importance to the group. "If building mobile shopping apps is within your company's mobile strategy, you should ask yourself what value you are looking to provide to your customer. While millennials may download your app, it will have to prove its value if you want them to actually use it," Wong wrote.

Of course value varies by brand and shopper. For multi-brand retailers, it may be rapidly changing inventory with lots of new products. For others, price and budget is a higher priority.

Budgeting is a way of life with millennials, thanks to high levels of student loan debt and an aversion to credit cards.  

Overwhelmingly, millennial shoppers said they chose to shop a retailer's app because it was easier to use than its mobile site. More than half, 54 percent, preferred the native app experience, 27 percent like the discounts offered, 4 percent used the app because it was mandatory in order to make a purchase, and 2 percent shopped on an app simply because they wanted to shop, but weren't on a computer.

Retailers are still evaluating whether to use native apps, mobile sites or third parties such as ShopKick. Google's recent algorithm switch assigned a higher value in search returns to businesses with mobile-friendly sites, and retailers are turning to responsive design to accommodate. The number of retailers using responsive design increased 9 percent from last year, according to Pure Oxygen.

Mobile sites may appease Google, but native apps may well be the connection of choice for millennial shoppers.

For more:
-See this Forbes article
-See this story by Affirm
-Read this Marketing Land article

Related stories:
Beacons reach 1 in 3 millennial moms
75% of retailers to ID shoppers at the door
Facebook is giving away free beacons
Mobile shopping growth slow as in-store refuses to go away
Gap turns to Spring app to reach millennial shoppers

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