Mobile Youth and $27,996 Lifetime Spend

tn_mobileYouth06.pngBedtime reading for me at the moment is the fascinating mobileYouth 2006 report (or at least the stripped down press version), produced by the same people behind Wireless World Forum. I’ll be bringing you a few more choice facts if I come across them, but for now, let’s focus on their big picture.

The average 10 year old today, goes their forecast, will spend a total of $27,996, in their lifetime, on mobile related services. More than half of the spending will happen before they’re 35, meaning that anyone in the mobile industry has a 25 year window of opportunity to maximise their share of this spend.

Clearly, the $27k is only a forecast, but it’s probably as good as any other figure to work with. And anyway, the call-to-action remains the same – youth is where we must focus if the potential that mobile represents is to be realised.

But the picture could be starker than this. This customer segment are much higher users of data services than us older folks (on average obviously – I’m sure plenty of MobHappy readers would give these kids a run for their money on data consumption). Which means that as voice revenues fall dramatically in the coming years (as I would argue), data will become a disproportionately important part of the ARPU mix.

Added to this, if you’re an operator and you can get these kids young and you service them well, you may be able to capture the whole of their lifetime spend, not just the golden 25 years written about in the report. The challenge at the moment is that operators generally give us little to be loyal to, so just like the Banks have known for years about “getting ’em young”, knowing what they ought to do, is very different from knowing how to do it.

The other implication of this forecast, is for marketers of non-mobile products and services. With these levels of expenditure, it’s going to put downward pressure on other traditional areas of youth spending, such as fashion, music and entertainment. This means that the switched-on companies in these sectors are going to be trying to work out how to take their offerings into the mobile world, to maintain their fair share.

Music married to the phone is a pretty obvious development. But maybe the fashionistas are going to make more aggressive moves, from the design of the handsets (a Burberry or Nike phone – why not?) to dressing avatars on phones in the latest brands.

A final thought is that mobile ownership among children is still highly controversial – the UK, for instance, still stands by the Steward Report, which holds that mobile phone usage by children should be discouraged and that the mobile industry should refrain from promoting it.

Hmmm….so we’re suggesting that the path to profitability is via capturing the hearts and minds on the young. While the Government is forbidding this type of marketing. Bit of a tricky one, no?

[tags] mobileyouth, operator, lifetime spend [/tags]

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo