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Brands need to work harder to impress the ‘Application Generation’
Wed, 31st Jan 2024

Around the world, attitudes towards applications and digital services are evolving at speed. As people continue to rely on digital services in many areas of their lives, they’re becoming more selective about the applications they use and their expectations for digital experience are soaring.

Significantly, these shifts in consumer sentiment and behaviour are most prevalent amongst younger consumers aged 18-34. The latest research from Cisco, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, reveals how this cohort of application users is more sophisticated, discerning, and demanding in their use of digital services. The ‘Application Generation’ prides itself on enjoying only the most innovative, intuitive, and secure digital experiences. And they’re determined to take action against brands whose applications fail to meet the required grade.

The global research conducted in 13 countries to more than 15,000 consumers reveals that in the two years since the pandemic, demand for applications and digital services has remained strong. However, consumers now feel more in control of their use of digital services and empowered to go elsewhere when digital experiences fall short of their expectations.
The research sounds like a clear warning to brands: you must work harder to impress the younger generation of consumers or risk losing them forever. That means ensuring applications and digital services are operating at peak performance at every time of asking.
Changing attitudes towards digital applications and services
The App Attention Index 2021 was published when various restrictions were still very much in place across the world. At the time, applications were a necessity of life – the sole channel through which people could shop, connect with friends, stay entertained, and access vital services. With restrictions lifted, people once again have a choice over how they do these things, but demand for applications and digital services remains above pre-pandemic levels. From ordering takeaways to streaming content, from staying in touch with friends to working from home, digital services are now entrenched in people’s lives, offering total ease and convenience.
However, whereas during the pandemic, people were simply happy to be able to use digital services to navigate through that difficult period, today, they are much more demanding. Function alone is not enough. Today’s application users demand quality and performance, and they’re looking to try out the most innovative digital experiences available. In fact, the research reveals that nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers today have higher expectations for digital experiences than they did two years ago, and 64% are less forgiving of poor digital services.
These findings should provide brands with real concern. People are no longer willing to put up with bad digital services. They’re deleting applications that let them down or switching to alternative digital services. In the past twelve months, the Application Generation has, on average, deleted as many as seven applications as a result of bad digital experiences. Additionally, 70% say they’re now more likely to warn other people against using digital services that don’t perform.
Consumers demand exceptional, enriching experiences
As people become more knowledgeable and confident in their use of digital services, they’re hungry to try out the very latest, most innovative digital experiences. They’re looking to test out any application that can simplify and enrich their lives. For instance, 73% of consumers feel positive about the prospect of using Super Apps, which bring together a range of different services into one application. And among the Application Generation, this stat shoots up to 80%.
Consumers point to a range of benefits that they believe Super Apps can offer, such as saving time (52%), simplifying their lives (48%), and reducing application clutter (43%). However, brands who are making moves towards being part of a Super App ecosystem should be aware: 57% of consumers expect that a performance issue with a Super App would be more disruptive than with a regular app, and 53% report that if a Super App failed to perform properly, they would have negative feelings towards all the brands associated with it.

How can brands ensure their applications impress?

The Application Generation is sending a clear message to application owners: deliver seamless and secure digital experiences or pay the price.

Facing this threat, application owners must ensure that their IT teams have the tools and insights required to deliver seamless digital experiences at all times. The problem is that many IT teams are already struggling to manage increasingly complex and dispersed application environments. They lack full visibility into cloud-native environments and have no clear line of sight for applications where components run across hybrid environments. It’s becoming hugely difficult to identify and fix issues before they affect the user’s experience.
That’s why it is important that organizations implement application observability as a priority. Application observability helps generate full and unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments. As a result, IT teams are able to rapidly detect issues and understand the root cause before it impacts the consumer. Additionally, by correlating application performance data with business metrics, technologists can identify and prioritize issues with the potential to cause the most damage to end-user experience. They can focus on what matters most.
The Application Generation has arrived, and they’re on a mission to use only the best performing and most innovative applications and digital services on offer. Brands must be ready to impress them, or they risk seeing millions of young consumers walking away, never to return.