Truth About Connected You

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INTRODUCTION We all know that connectivity via technology is a tremendously important force in contemporary culture. In this, our tenth Truth Study, we have explored the notion of connectivity from some new and provocative angles. We’ve broached subjects like whether mobility impacts fundamentals such as our motivations and personalities and whether life lived through a screen gives us a different moral compass. Most importantly, we’ve provided strategies for consumer brands, device manufacturers and networks to navigate this brave new world of ubiquitous connectivity. To find the Truth About Connected You, McCann Truth Central partnered with McCann’s Global Telecom Practice. We conducted a 9,000-person online survey, representing the online populations of nine countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the USA. Data for this survey was collected by Harris Interactive on behalf of McCann Truth Central. McCann was responsible for survey design and data analysis. In addition, we conducted online discussion boards, garnering nearly 20,000 posts from consumers in 14 countries: The nine above, plus Chile, Egypt, Norway, the Philippines, and Sweden. Finally, we had hundreds of submissions to a contest asking respondents to illustrate and describe their “dream mobile device.”


Combining all of this research, we uncovered five themes, which together reveal the truth of how and why we connect with others through our mobile devices. These themes are:

Teenage Dreaming Figuring Out Relationships Who Are We Really? Smashing Stereotypes

Keeping the Magic in Mobile


A WORLD FULL OF MOBILE TEENAGERS The truth is that we’ve entered our teenage years when it comes to our mobile lives. Globally, the mean length of time that we have owned any mobile device is 12 years. Some developed markets like the UK are a bit older (13.9 years) and some emerging markets like India are younger (8.9 years). Since we’ve only had up to our early teens to become accustomed to mobiles and figure out how we should behave, it’s no surprise that our mobile behaviors are often fraught with inconsistencies.


THE BEST AND WORST OF THE TEENAGE YEARS Sometimes it seems we exhibit the best parts of teenagers when it comes to our mobile lives. We love to experiment, and the average person has owned 6.4 devices, trying out a new device every 22 months. We’re also feeling empowered to do things on our own. 58% globally feel that mobile devices have made them more independent in their lives.

On the flip side, we have also entered an age in which we are susceptible to judgment and peer pressure. 74% globally feel that their mobile devices help them to fit in versus stand out. 55% also admit to judging others based on the mobile devices that they own. As one Japanese respondent stated, “There is a guy at work who has a rabbit as a cover, and I feel that type of cover is for a student. I worry whether I can do business with such a guy.” And we judge not just on devices, but also on behaviors. Said one person in the UK, “You can tell how important someone wants to feel by how often they check their phone.”


The good news for brands is that in this world of connected ‘teenagers’, nothing has been set in stone. Relationships are forming but malleable. Brand loyalty and friendships are up for grabs. The opportunity for marketers is outsized, as the globe’s mobile teenagers move into their 20’s; mobile ad spend is expected to rise from $9 billion in 2013 to $24 billion in 2017.

Source: MAGNA Global (IPG Mediabrands)



? WHAT SORT OF GUIDANCE DO OUR TEENAGE SELVES NEED? What brands can do is help us overcome our teenage insecurities. When it comes to being a teenager, we want to know what others have and how we measure up against them. After all, who wants to be the last in line? To keep us ahead of the competition as trendsetters, brands can show us what we are doing, downloading, and how it compares to other people with similar profiles.


Perhaps the best parts of growing up are the milestones that make our teenage years – and subsequent decades – so memorable. Aside from counteracting our insecurities, brands have the power to create mobile milestones and celebrate them. Can we commemorate a person’s millionth text? Or congratulate someone on buying their first house? How about creating a mobile device for someone who just had a baby or just retired?

Let’s create and celebrate mobile milestones Can we turn getting your first phone into as big a birthday as your 13th? Should we celebrate a person’s millionth tweet, txt, call? What about creating new products for somebody who just had their first baby?


AN INTENSE BFF RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR PHONES One of the most important things for a teenager to figure out is her or his relationships with people. The same can be said for mobile technology, where for consumers, smartphones take the place of archetypal characters from high school, such as the BFF, the boyfriend/ girlfriend, or the lab partner. Given images which represented specific types of relationships between two people, 30% of global consumers chose an image of two friends to classify their relationship with their smartphone. 18% viewed their relationship with their smartphone as one of tight collaborators, working together to get a job done. Another 18% had a very intense relationship, mirroring that of two lovers. Said one US consumer of her smartphone, “We never part ways or leave each others’ side for too long.”

As mobile consumers “grow older”, they expect their relationships with their mobile devices to intensify with time. 84% believe that in the future we will be even more connected than we are today. The mobile device is at the center of this increased connectivity, so much so that three-quarters of consumers say that their choice of mobile device is a very important decision.


MAKING THINGS EASIER On the surface, this increased connection through devices seems to have had a positive impact. Indeed, more than 80% of consumers feel that mobile technology has improved both their social and family lives. Additionally, three-quarters of consumers say that mobile technology has made their lives simpler.

BUT AT WHAT PRICE? Globally, over a third of consumers say that their mobile devices distract them from what matters most. Emerging markets like China and India are still the most enthusiastic about their devices, and more than 80% of consumers in these markets feel that their devices make them a better person. However, in more built-up markets like the UK, US, and Spain, anywhere between 39% and 47% feel that mobile devices are more of a distraction than something that makes them a better person. In Germany, 62% of consumers feel that their devices are a distraction.


YET DISCONNECTION IS NOT AN OPTION Despite concerns that constant connectivity distracts us from what matters most, many consumers don’t see disconnecting as a viable option; 47% believe that their personal connections would suffer if they were to go without their mobile devices, even for a short period of time. Despite their inability to disconnect, consumers understand that it might be necessary at some time, as 63% say that the more connected we become, the more we will need to spend time disconnecting. Talking about an experiment where he had to wait an hour before responding to messages, a Chinese consumer said, “I almost forgot to reply to my texts, which would be really bad! I can’t live without my phone. Habits have formed because of work.”

ARE WE CELLULARLY CONFLICTED ADOLESCENTS? Furthermore, consumers recognize the effect that mobile technology has had on the quality of their connections, and this has exacerbated discussions about when we should put our devices away, or if this is even possible these days. While 72% agree that to be connected to something or someone these days requires technology, 72% also believe that connections today are weaker than they were in the past. Speaking of a bad experience on a dinner date, one German consumer said, “It’s a complete turn-off when my date likes to chat more and talk less!”


THE MOBILE MORAL COMPASS Mobile connectivity has far-reaching effects beyond the relationships we have with others. More than half of mobile technology users feel they have difficulties knowing right from wrong on a mobile device, and 57% say they are more likely to do things of questionable legality on a mobile device than on a computer. Legal boundaries are not the only concern. Consumers seem to think that they operate in a bubble when it comes to the way they use mobile technology. In today’s mobile environment, 61% believe that what they do on their mobile device has no effect on people around them and another 52% agree that it’s more tempting to be rude to people when using a mobile device. Despite the shakiness of their mobile moral compass, we asked consumers to select the worst option from two potential transgressions:

What’s Worse? Ignoring texts (27%)

Ignoring calls (73%)

Breaking up with someone via text (60%)

Breaking up with someone at a crowded party (40%)

Not answering a message (37%)

Phubbing (Phone snubbing) (63%)

Pretending to be someone you’re not online (44%)

Pretending to be someone you’re not over the phone (56%)

If there’s a split in the global mobile moral compass, it’s definitely an East vs. West divide. Asian markets disagree with the global average, and Chinese, Japanese, and Indian consumers all think it’s worse to break up with someone at a crowded party. Similarly, Japanese consumers think it’s worse to ignore a message than a face-to-face conversational partner, and they think faking an online identity is a worse tech transgression.


THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF MOBILE! Armed with this understanding of mobile moral pitfalls, we have codified the Seven Deadly Sins of Mobile.

Lust – Sending or forwarding a sexually explicit text (or ‘sext’). More than 1 in 10 say they have received a sext!

Gluttony – When your device addiction becomes excessive. 38% of people are toilet talkers (they take their devices into the bathroom).

Greed – Downloading content illegally. 25% of people admit to doing this and 49% admit to it in China.

Sloth – Screening calls and avoiding texts. 55% have purposely ignored a call.

Wrath – Littering your mobile messages with $#^&! words and mofanities. 2 in 10 use curses in their texts.

Envy – Judging a man or woman by their home screen. 55% judge one another based on their mobile devices.

Pride – Living in your own mobile bubble. 44% say they have a right to do whatever they want with their mobile devices, even if it might bother someone else.


COMBATING HYPER-CONNECTIVITY AND THE EROSION OF QUALITY CONNECTIONS Yet as we navigate this mobile minefield of phubs and sins, there’s a strong belief that we mobile teenagers are starting to figure out our relationships. Particularly when we look to the future, we see the possibility of creating “priority lanes” to connect us with those we love most. We’re also going to find new ways to combat tech with tech, using devices to create times and spaces free of overconnection. We collected hundreds of concepts for dream mobile devices, or devices that consumers feel will be impactful on society in the future. Two in particular stand out and could prove very effective in combating the erosion of emotional connections and the constant need to be connected. They are the Circle of Love, which lets you transmit the humidity and feeling of a kiss to your partner, regardless of distance, and the iHide, a piece of transportable tech which blocks out all other tech in a surrounding area. Brands could take the lead by reflecting these kinds of innovations. Or at a simpler level, they could endeavor to increase not just the quantity of our connections but the quality of our relationships. As the following concepts show, there’s room for tech to give a ‘power up’ to our most important relationships.





Because brands are already spending more time talking to people in a mobile world, there’s an important question that needs to be answered: Are we sure we know who’s on the other side? Or are we playing a game of phone- and text-tag with a wrong number and don’t know it? To that end, we wondered if people’s behaviors and motivations, the basic layers of their personalities, are the same on mobile platforms as they are in face-to-face communication.


A MOBILE PERSONALITY To find out just how different we can be in face-to-face versus mobile communication, McCann Truth Central and the McCann Global Telecom Practice created a short assessment of consumer’s mobile thoughts and practices. We called this the McCann Mobile Personality Profiler, and had our 9,000 online consumers complete the assessment. We also had them answer questions about their general personality to compare and contrast. What we found was that our mobile personalities can in fact be quite different from our face-to-face personalities. Based on non-mobile questions, we determined that 43% of our global respondents were more ‘outgoing’ in their face-to-face communication, while the remainder (57%) were more ‘reserved.’ But as people transition to mobile, a significant number switch from reserved to outgoing. In fact, on mobile nearly 2/3 (65%) of consumers were classified as outgoing, and only 35% were reserved. The biggest shifts were seen in China, where 38% of people switched from reserved in face-to-face communication to more outgoing on mobile. South Africans were also much more outgoing on mobile (33% shifted). Germany was the most consistent, with only a 7% point shift to more outgoing.


Most consumers felt that the filtering effect of the screens in mobile communication helped them feel more comfortable about being talkative and provocative. One consumer in India observed, “Some people sound more profound or funny on their mobiles than in real life. Perhaps because they have the advantage of time and distance to compose themselves.” Of course, while the majority of consumers were more outgoing on mobile, some of life’s biggest extroverts found themselves retreating into their own mobile world, becoming more reserved. A Brazilian participant observed this in his own behavior. He said, “When I am on the phone, I get really anti-social, given that I get zoned out on the internet.” Comparing the results of the Mobile Personality Profiler to questions about face-to-face personalities, we also found that there’s a noticeable shift in how organized or dynamic people become in a mobile context. Taking full advantage of their mobile’s tools – and suffering from constant ringing reminders – 8% more consumers identified themselves as organized in a mobile context, actually shifting the balance away from a dynamic and flexible approach to scheduling exhibited in face-to-face behaviors. Chinese consumers were the most likely to switch toward an organized mobile (42% point increase) but UK consumers were likely to become more dynamic (2% point increase).



We used the results of the Mobile Personality Profiler to identify distinct mobile personalities. Curious to know what your mobile personality is? You can access the Personality Profiler via your mobile device using the QR code below or you can visit the website www.TruthProfiler.Com


THE MOBILE PERSONALITY CHARACTERS The mobile personalities that we discovered vary based on a number of dimensions. The most obvious driver of the different personalities is whether they are more outgoing or reserved. Other influences also play a role, such as how much the personality takes into account the feelings of others when deciding how to behave, or whether you prefer to be a mobile device trendsetter or rely on reviews to get a tried and tested device. Here are some of our characters, starting with the Ringtone Crowd (outgoing personality types):

Mobile Maître-D


Wireless Warrior

One Tech Pony

Silicon Simon

This chatty group generally prefers to keep a ringtone on so they know when they’re receiving various messages – and they like getting lots of messages. They prefer more emotive means of communication, such as voice and video, to less emotional but faster means like text. Of course, there’s variance within the group. The Mobile Maître-D is hyper-organized, but doesn’t like to upgrade or change devices too often because he or she hates disrupting routines. Silicon Simon, on the other hand, is a bit more disorganized and loves having the latest and greatest tech. iChatty is always worried about answering calls from her friends so they don’t feel slighted, but the Wireless Warrior is going to put his or her clients’ calls as top priority and may let friends and family linger in voicemail until the end of the day.


We also have the cast that tends to be a bit more behind the scenes. Our more reserved personalities may prefer to keep their devices on silent. Here’s our Silent Crowd:

Linked-Out Loyalist

Mobile Missionary

Techie Teddie

Gadget Gary

Plugged-In Professor

The more reserved silent crowd is equally enthusiastic about mobile devices – maybe even more so – but they’re more selective about how, when, and with whom they use their mobile devices. The Linked-Out Loyalist loves her phone, but she mostly uses it to call her friends whom she prefers to see in person. She’s also going to be loyal to a device model or brand, because she loves how well it works for her. Gadget Gary, on the other hand, is probably frequently seen surfing online or in store for the latest devices. He might be more into his devices for their apps and tools than for calling up old friends. The Mobile Missionary also loves his mobile, but might get preachy if he sees you texting during a date or hears your ringer during a movie. And our Plugged-In Professor is so into mobile Twitter that she forgets to put your number in her contacts and only knows how to reach you by your @ handle.


A CREATIVE SPRINGBOARD Brands should use these mobile personalities as a creative springboard for coming up with new and innovative ways to engage consumers. For example, a brand could create a safe way for the Mobile MaĂŽtre-D to try out new tech and apps, by offering up a monthly package of personalized apps that help him connect with his favorite regulars.



SHORTCUTS AND EMOTIONAL RANGE Since we’re only teenagers in mobile years, we use shortcuts to form opinions. In the case of network providers, price, speed, and coverage determine our loyalty to the brand. As one respondent from Scandinavia explained, “If it (my network) works, that’s fine and if it doesn’t work I’ll change to whoever can provide better coverage/higher speed.” If we were to categorize our relationships with our devices, networks and mobile advertising in terms of teenage emotions – ‘Love’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Argh’ – then the best is reserved for our mobile devices. Mobile networks and advertisers, though, have an opportunity to win more love from consumers.


INJECTING FEELING INTO OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH NETWORKS On the surface, our relationship with network providers is ‘Meh’ at best. When we asked consumers to pick a visual representation of the interaction they have with their network, the most frequently chosen visual was “no relationship”. Yet, when we asked consumers how they thought the network saw the relationship, the top response was “waiter and patron”. There’s clearly a tension here which needs to be resolved.

In actuality, network providers have the power to further their relationship with consumers. 80% globally say that their choice of the provider is a very important decision, and 75% say that various network providers have different personalities. 52% go as far as saying that their network provider should reflect their personality. Network provider brands can take data and personalization to new levels, providing utility to consumers. As one Spanish respondent said, “When you go to a bar for the first time they don’t know you, but the more you go the more they know about what you like…same would be desirable for a mobile network.” 49% globally want mobile network providers to use their data to provide them with deals and services which are better suited to their needs, in addition to billing them correctly. 28

WINNING LOVE FOR MOBILE ADVERTISING We love our devices and currently feel little toward our providers. But what about mobile advertising? If we ask consumers, oftentimes their limited experience leads them to believe they dislike mobile advertising. The most common type of mobile ad consumers have seen is an SMS text (48% have encountered this). So it’s no surprise that 63% wish that the advertising they saw on their mobiles was more entertaining. Fortunately, many of the best practices of great creative agencies also apply to mobile advertising. The one key difference is that people seem to be holding mobile advertising to a higher standard, and this is because unlike other mediums which people interact with, mobile isn’t a thing, it is part of who we are. Below are the 5 P’s of successful mobile engagement:

FROM ADS, TO EXPERIENCES, TO WONDERMENT During our online discussion boards, we asked consumers to view a number of videos of mobile advertising experiences from various brands. Seeing the full potential of mobile ads was transformative for the majority of participants. One US consumer exclaimed, “After watching these previous ads, I would have to say that I’m more open to mobile advertising. Especially not knowing what type of experience you might encounter with that particular ad and brand.”

1. Personal – People expect the brands that advertise through mobile to be better informed about who they are.

2. Purposeful – It is easy to tune out a lot of advertising… but when advertising has meaning in our lives it is harder to ignore.

3. Private – While people are willing to share some data to get personalized communications, their personal data must be protected.

4. Playful – Your mobile is a game system, a chat machine, a camera, etc. People like it when advertising lives up to its potential.

5. POW – The platform is young. The boredom factor is high. People want to be wowed.


AS WE APPROACH OUR 20’S For most people, one’s 20’s are a time of self-realization, progress, and reinvention. We greet the world with burgeoning enthusiasm for endless opportunity and greatness to come. The same can be hoped for in our mobile lives, as consumers are excited for the next decade bringing devices with increased performance and utility. As we mature, we’re ready for brands to surprise us with innovation, for them to keep the magic in mobile. In fact, 40% of global consumers are looking forward to devices becoming faster and 38% want them to be smarter. Consumers are also hoping for devices to become more streamlined, if not integrated into our bodies. When asked potential parts of the body where humans would choose for a mobile device to be implanted, 49% say they would prefer their hand and 24% say they would prefer their ear.


NEEDS AND DREAMS As we explored the hundreds of dream mobile device submissions from consumers and marketing professionals, we realized the amount of magic people are expecting in their mobile futures. Their ideas and hopes revealed a distinct set of needs when it comes to our mobile lives. Networks, device manufacturers, brands, and marketers alike can keep these needs in mind as they develop practical, yet enthralling, solutions for tomorrow’s mobile consumers.

Mobile Needs Map


for a full explanation of these need-states and their implications for your brand, please contact us at

WILL MOBILE BE THE SUPERHERO THAT SAVES THE WORLD? Consumer dreams for mobile extend beyond the individual – a sign that we’re maturing out of our mobile teens? – and showcased a belief that mobile could play a key role in solving the world’s problems. Quantitatively, this proved to be true as well. Presented with a myriad of global concerns, 37% of global consumers say that mobile technology will help us find a solution for crime in the future, 26% believe it will help us to stop terrorism, and 21% feel it will help us prevent global economic crises. Is this magic reserved only for the future? Or are mobiles already saving the world? As our study’s findings reveal, we already see the profound changes mobile is having for our lives, our relationships, our personalities, and our interaction with brands. Yet we’re reminded of the power of technology to do global good, and many consumers realize that this is already going on under our noses. Said one respondent from the Philippines, “Mobile devices can help solve any dilemma. Actually our devices are helping us on similar problems now. We just don’t notice it.” As we mature into mobile manhood and womanhood, one can only imagine we’ll start noticing it more.