Etiquette: How Customer Manners Affect Advertising

Have you been out to dinner before looked over and seen two millennials staring down at their phones? I would guess your first reaction would be: “Get off your phone and be social!” You may be surprised to find, however, that social etiquette is changing with the consistent, daily use of smart phones.

About 90% of Americans own cell phones according to a Pew survey

Fans take photos with their mobile phones

Fans take photos with their mobile phones

But how often do they use their cell phones? A study conducted by Flurry discovered that Americans, on average, spend 162 minutes on their phones. That’s almost 3 hours per day! So what are these people doing on their phones so frequently? Let’s look at a quick break-down from Pew:

  • Catch up: 67% of American’s catch up with friends and family over social media and messages
  • Sleep tight: 44% of Americans have slept with their phone next to them
  • Life & death: 29% say they can’t live without it
  • Coordinate: 70% Americans use their phone to coordinate meetings/social get-togethers
  • Socially informed: About 27% of Americans use their phone to find information during social meetings and 65% frequently look up information about where they are going/how to get there
  • Updated: 3/4 of cell phone owners used it for social media, 60% for taking pictures/videos and 55% got their daily news

What do these numbers mean?

Despite the fact that Americans see cell phone use during social interactions as harmful and/or distracting, the majority use their phones socially. That “social use” may translate into taking pictures, status updates, searching for information, etc. particularly for younger adults. Some even think phones make social gatherings more “social”.

For instance, the Pew study showed the breakdown of exactly how people used their phones during social gatherings. At 45%, Americans used their phone to post a picture and/or video of a gathering. Some cell phone users shared what occurred during the gathering via text, email or social media, coming in at 41%. And a lesser percentage used their phones to gather information related to the gathering and/or to connect with other people.

While this offers a new booming landscape for digital/mobile marketers, it can complicate an already stressed print market. More time spent on phones means less time spent looking through magazines and newspapers. When once a generation spent their time waiting for the bus or at the doctor’s office flipping through a newspaper, generations now are more likely to turn to their smart device to get their friends’ latest updates and stay in the loop.

Does this mean print advertising is ineffective? While it seems like a tremendous number of people spend time on their phones, there still remains a significant percentage of Americans that don’t use their phones as discussed above. This missing percentage is dominated by those who prefer the feel and look of paper as opposed to reading on their mobile device. Whether your campaign focuses on print, digital, or both you may want to take a closer look at your customers’ social etiquette to see how it may affect your advertising.