Generation Y as a Digital Consumer: A Conceptual Framework for Mobile Marketing in India

© Media Watch 7 (2) 210-225, 2016
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2016/v7i2/98726

Generation Y as a Digital Consumer: A Conceptual Framework for Mobile Marketing in India

MICA–The School of Ideas, Ahmedabad, India

Among the emerging economies, India is the most promising market for Generation Y, because majority of Indian’s population belongs to this segment (those born between 1980 and 2000). These individuals are tech-savvy and extensively use mobile phones. This study aims to uncover the role of mobile phone that has emerged along with the evolution of Generation Y. The digitized consumers of this generation need to be understood in light of the importance of family, friends and peers. This will help us determine the purchase of products and brands via mobile phones while understanding the characteristics of these individuals. A total of 10 focus group discussions (FGDs) with 72 respondents were conducted in three Indian leading cities: Mumbai, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad. The study found that Generation Y widely use mobile phone, get influenced by the peers, family and friends and get involved with the brands via phone. Generation Y also focus on personalization, security and sharing; while they emerge as digital consumers.

Keywords: Generation Y, mobile marketing, India


Aggarwal, P. (2004). The Effects of Brand Relationship Norms on Consumer Attitudes and Behaviour. Journal Of Consumer Research, 31(1), 87-101. doi:10.1086/383426
Alch, M. (2000). Get ready for the net generation. Training And Development, 54(2), 32-34. Retrieved from
Alsop, R. (2008). The trophy kids grow up. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Amin, P., Amin, B., & Patel, R. (2011). SMS Marketing: The Role of Permission and Acceptance. International Journal Of Mobile Marketing, 6(2), 5-16. Retrieved from http:// 13280/sms-marketing-role-permissionacceptance
Antoine, P. (2004). Understanding the Mobile Phone Market Drivers. Retrieved 27 March 2014, from
Arsenault, P., & Patrick, M. (2008). Are the shoes appropriate to wear?: A study of cohort values. Journal Of Targeting, Measurement And Analysis For Marketing, 16(2), 99-107. doi:10.1057/jt.2008.6 222,.
Bangalore People – People of Bangalore India – People & Life-style of Bangalore Bengalooru. Retrieved 15 October 2014, from http://
Bearden, W., & Etzel, M. (1982). Reference Group Influence on Product and Brand Purchase Decisions. Journal Of Consumer Research, 9(2), 183-194. doi:10.1086/208911
Berkowitz, E., & Schewe, C. (2011). Generational Cohorts Hold the Key to Understanding Patients and Health Care Providers: Coming-of-Age Experiences Influence Health Care Behaviours for a Lifetime. Health Marketing Quarterly, 28(2), 190-204. doi:10.1080/ 07359683.2011.572029
Borges, N., Manuel, R., Elam, C., & Jones, B. (2006). Comparing Millennial and Generation X Medical Students at One Medical School. Academic Medicine, 81(6), 571-576. doi:10.1097/01.acm.0000225222.38078.47
Bourne, F. S. (1957). Group influence in marketing and public relations. In R. Likert & S. P. Hayes (Eds.), Some applications of behavioural research (pp. 207–257). Basil, Switzerland: UNESCO. Bush, A., Martin, C., &
Bush, V. (2004). Sports Celebrity Influence on the Behavioural Intentions of Generation Y. Journal Of Advertising Research, 44(1), 108-118. doi:10.1017/ s0021849904040206
Butcher, D. (2011). Mobile most effective medium for initiating dialogue with consumers. Retrieved 1 June 2015, from cms/news/research/9580.html
Camden, S. (2011). Answering the Needs of Mobile Searchers: An Analysis of the Context and Intentions Unique to Mobile Information Access. International Journal Of Mobile Marketing, 6(1), 54-62. Retrieved from 61262451/answering-needs-mobile-searchers-analysis-context-intentions-uniquemobile-information-access
Carr, A., & Ly, P. (2009). More than words: screencasting as a reference tool. Reference Services Review, 37(4), 408-420. doi:10.1108/00907320911007010
Childers, T., & Rao, A. (1992). The Influence of Familial and Peer-Based Reference Groups on Consumer Decisions. Journal Of Consumer Research, 19(2), 198-211. doi:10.1086/ 209296
Choi, Y., Kim, J., & McMillan, S. (2009). Motivators for the intention to use mobile TV: a comparison of South Korean males and females. International Journal Of Advertising, 28(1), 147-167. doi:10.2501/s0265048709090477
Cova, B., & Dalli, D. (2009). Working consumers: the next step in marketing theory?. Marketing Theory, 9(3), 315-339. doi:10.1177/1470593109338144
Cova, B., & Pace, S. (2006). Brand community of convenience products: new forms of customer empowerment-the case “my Nutella The Community”. European Journal Of Marketing, 40(9/10), 1087-1105. doi:10.1108/03090560610681023
De Mooij, M. (1998). Global marketing and advertising. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
Eisner, S. (2005). Managing generation Y. Engineering Management Review, IEEE, 39(2), 6-18.
Englis, B., & Solomon, M. (1995). To Be and Not to Be: Lifestyle Imagery, Reference Groups, and The Clustering of America. Journal Of Advertising, 24(1), 13-28. doi:10.1080/ 00913367.1995.10673465
Escalas, J., & Bettman, J. (2003). You Are What They Eat: The Influence of Reference Groups on Consumers’ Connections to Brands. Journal Of Consumer Psychology, 13(3), 339- 348. doi:10.1207/s15327663jcp1303_14
Euromonitor International. (2006). Mobile Entertainment. [report] Euromonitor International.
Euromonitor International. (2010a). Regional Focus: Asia Pacific – the world’s largest mobile phone market. [report]
Euromonitor International. Euromonitor International. (2010b). Emerging Focus: Emerging market economies drive global growth in mobile connectivity. [report] Euromonitor International. Euromonitor International,. (2011). Q&A: The Importance and Prospects of Mobile Telephony – Analyst Insight from Euromonitor International. Retrieved 20 Apri2015, from
Felthousen, M. (2008, October). The trail less traveled: making computing labs usable by removing barriers. In Proceedings of the 36th annual ACM SIGUCCS fall conference: moving mountains, blazing trails (pp. 83-88). ACM.
Friedrich, R., Gröne, F., Hölbling, K., & Peterson, M. (2009). The march of mobile marketing: New chances for consumer companies, new opportunities for mobile operators. Journal of advertising research, 49(1), 54-61.
Ger, Güliz. (1999). Localizing in the Global Village: Local Firms Competing in Global Markets, California Management Review, 41(4), 64–83.
Euromonitor International. (2012). Income and Expenditure: India. [report] Euromonitor International.
Geraci, J., Silsbee, P., Fauth, S., & Campbell, J. (2000). Understanding Youth: What Works and Doesn’t Work When Researching and Marketing to Young Audiences | Retrieved 1 June 2014, from content/understanding-youth-what-works-and-doesnt-work-when-researching-andmarketing-young-audience#more1990
Gioia, D. (2004). Reading at risk: A survey of literary reading in America. National Endowment for the Arts Report no. 46. [report] Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts.
Hoffman, D. L., & Novak, T. P. (1996). Marketing in hypermedia computer-mediated environments: conceptual foundations. The Journal of Marketing, 60(3), 50-68.
Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (2003). Millennials go to College. Great Falls, VA: Lifecourse Associates.
Huet, E., & Barrios, G. (2013). You love the web… but how much? Measuring the value of the internet. In 3D Digital Dimensions (pp. 1-21). Boston: ESOMAR.
Hyman, H. H. (1942). The psychology of status. Archives of Psychology (Columbia University), No. 269. (2011). India’s Population 2014, Retrieved from: http:// [Accessed: 11 April 2011]. (2012). Metro City/Circle-wise Number of Cellular Phone Subscribers in India, Retrieved from: cellularsubscriberinindia/449507/621665/data.aspx [Accessed: 27 Mar 2014].
Jain, V. & Pant, S. (Forthcoming). Positioning Generation Y for Effective Mobile Communication: The Case if Three Cities in India. Transnational Marketing Journal, 3(1), 1-26.
Jain, V., & Pant, S. (2012). Navigating Generation Y for Effective Mobile Marketing in India: A Conceptual Framework. International Journal Of Mobile Marketing, 7(3), 56-65.
Jain, V., Pant, S., & Daswani, A. (2011). Mobile Marketing: The Emerging Indian Perspective. International Journal Of Mobile Marketing, 6(2), 17-27.
Jerrard, J. (2002), Bridging the gap: four steps to engage members of every generation in your workplace, EMS Manager & Supervision, 4(9), 1-2.
Jurisic, B., & Azevedo, A. (2011). Building customer–brand relationships in the mobile communications market: The role of brand tribalism and brand reputation. Journal of Brand Management, 18(4), 349-366.
Kamal, S., Chu, S., & Pedram, M. (2013). Materialism, Attitudes, and Social Media Usage and Their Impact on Purchase Intention of Luxury Fashion Goods Among American and Arab Young Generations. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 13(1), 27-40. doi:10.1080/ 15252019.2013.768052
Kaplan, A.M. & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53, 59–68.
Katz, E., Blumler, J.G. & Gurevitch, M. (1974). Uses and gratifications research. Public Opinion Quarterly, 37(4), 509–523.
Ko, H., Cho, C.-H. & Roberts, M.S. (2005). Internet uses and gratifications: a structural equation model of interactive advertising. Journal of Advertising, 24(2), 57–70. 224
Ling, R. (2001). The diffusion of mobile telephony among Norwegian teens: A report from after the revolution. In Annales des telecommunications, 57, (3-4), 210-224.
Lowe, D., Levitt, K. J., & Wilson, T. (2008). Solutions for retaining generation Y employees in the workplace. Business Renaissance Quarterly, 3(3), 43-58.
Malhotra, N., & Dash, S. (2011). Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation. 6th ed. India: Pearson Education.
Martin, P. Y., & Turner, B. A. (1986). Grounded theory and organizational research. The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, 22(2), 141-157.
Meeker M. (2012), All Things Digital Conference, Retrieved from:
Melenhorst, A. S., Rogers, W. A., & Bouwhuis, D. G. (2006). Older adults’ motivated choice for technological innovation: evidence for benefit-driven selectivity. Psychology and aging, 21(1), 190.
Mobile Youth. (n.d.). Mobile Youth. [online] Retrieved from: 50keyfacts-f1.pdf [Accessed: 27 Mar 2014].
Morgan, D., & Krueger, A. (1993). When to Use Focus Groups, and Why. In Successful Focus Groups: Advancing the State of the Art. In: Morgan, D. eds. (1993). Successful Focus Groups: Advancing the State of the Art. Newbury Park, CA and London: Sage Publication, 3-19.
Morton, P. (2002). Targeting Generation Y. Public Relations Quarterly, 47(2), 46-48.
Moschis, G. P. (1976). Social comparison and informal group influence. Journal of Marketing Research, 13, 237–244.
Muntinga, D. G., Moorman, M., & Smit, E. G. (2011). Introducing COBRAs: Exploring motivations for brand-related social media use. International Journal of Advertising, 30(1), 13-46.,. Mumbai People – Mumbaikars. Retrieved 15 October 2014, from http://
Nielsen, J. (2005). Usability of Web sites for teenagers. [online] Retrieved from: http:// [Accessed: 12 March 2012].
Noble, S. M., Haytko, D. L., & Phillips, J. (2009). What drives college-age Generation Y consumers?. Journal of Business Research, 62(6), 617-628.
Oblinger, D. (2003). Boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials: Understanding the new students. Educause Review, Iss. July/August, 36-47.
Okazaki, S. & Barwise. (2011). Has the time finally come for the medium of the future? Research on mobile advertising. Journal of Advertising Research, 51(1), 59-71. Okazaki, S. (2009). The Tactical Use of Mobile Marketing: How Adolescents’ Social Networking Can Best Shape Brand Extensions. Journal of Advertising Research, 49(1), 12-26. doi:10.2501/s0021849909090102
Olivier, D. and Tanguy, C. (2008), Generation Y, Mode d’emploi, De Boeck, Bruxelles.
Olsen, S. (2005). The millennials usher in a new era. [online] Retrieved from: http:// [Accessed: 12 March 2014].
Pant, S., & Jain, V. (2012). Mobile Marketing: Positioning an Indian Framework. Indore Management Journal, Special Issue: Referred Proceedings titled Excellence in Research and Education, 129-145. Pant, S., & Jain, V. (2013). A comparative analysis of mobile marketing: A case study approach. Middle East Media Educator, (3), 87-96.
Perez, S. (2008). Why Gen Y is going to change the Web. [online] Retrieved from: http:// [Accessed: 12 April 2012].
Precourt, G. (2013) in 2016: How imagination created a holistic customer experience at ContentViewer.aspx?MasterContentRef=dc4ac813-22cd-43b5-89bb2857377d937c& holistic+customer+experience&CID=A99390&PUB=EVENT-REPORTS
Rodgers, S., Wang, Y., Rettie, R. & Alpert, F. (2007). The Web Motivation Inventory: replication, extension and application to internet advertising. International Journal of Advertising, 26(4), 447–476.
Rowh, M. (2007). Managing younger workers: Like it or not, even in the workplace, things go round and round in the circle game as a new generation moves to the forefront. Office Solutions, 34(1), 29.
Rubin, A.M. (2002). The uses-and-gratifications perspective of media effects, in Bryant, J. & Zillmann, D. (eds) Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research.Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 525–548.
Ruggiero, T.E. (2000). Uses and gratifications theory in the 21st century. Mass Communication and Society, 3(1), 3–36.
Sheth, J. (2008). Chindia rising. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.
StatCounter GlobalStats. (2011, June). Mobile vs. Desktop. Retrieved from: http://
Strauss, A. L. & Corbin, J. M. (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research – Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. 2nd ed. California: Sage Publications.
Strutton, D., Taylor, D. G., & Thompson, K. (2011). Investigating Generational Differences in e-WOM Behaviours: For Advertising Purposes, Does X= Y?. International Journal of Advertising, 30(4), 559-586.
Swinton, R., & Kaliouby, R. (2012). Measuring emotions through a mobile device across borders, ages, genders and more. In Congress (pp. 1-18). Atlanta: ESOMAR.
Taylor, S., & Harper, R. (2001). “Talking Activity: Young People and Mobile Phones”, paper presented at CHICHI 2001 Workshop: Mobile Communications: Understanding Users, Adoption & Design. Seattle, WA.
Tulgan, B. (2009). Not everyone gets a trophy. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Turner, J. C. (1991). Social influence. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Villanueva, J., Yoo, S. & Hanssens, D.M. (2008). The impact of marketing-induced versus word-of-mouth customer acquisition on customer equity growth. Journal ofMarketing Research, 45(1), 48–59.
Viswanathan, V. & Jain, V. (2013). A dual-system approach to understanding “generation Y” decision making. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 30(6), 484–492.
Weiler, A. (2005). Information-seeking behaviour in Generation Y students: Motivation, critical thinking, and learning theory. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(1), 46–53.
Weingarten, M. (2009). Four generations, one workplace: A Gen X-Y staff nurse’s view of team building in the emergency department. Journal of Emergency Nursing, (35), 27-30.
White, K., & Dahl, D. W. (2006). To be or not be? The influence of dissociative reference groups on consumer preferences. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16(4), 404-414.
Whittler, T. E., & Spira, J. S. (2002). Model’s race: A peripheral cue in advertising messages. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 12(4), 291–301.
Xu, Y. (2007). Impact of store environment on adult generation Y consumers’ impulse buying. Journal of Shopping Center Research, 14(1), 39-56.
Yin, R.K. (2003), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 3rd ed., Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Dr. Varsha Jain is an assistant professor in Integrated Marketing Communications and the Chair, Dissertation at MICA. Her research specialties lie in mobile and digital marketing, luxury branding, and digital natives.

Dr. Saumya Pant is an associate professor at MICA and visiting faculty at Bangkok University, Thailand. Her areas of expertise are gender and health communication, mass communication for social change, critical cultural inquiry, and transnational feminisms.