WhatsApp OP - how Gen-X use WhatsApp
WhatsApp OP - how Gen-X use WhatsApp

WhatsApp OP - how Gen-X use WhatsApp

This is a research case study on how Gen-X uses WhatsApp. In this case study, I will be sharing insights on how WhatsApp has become the Super App for the Gen-X.
🧵

I made a Twitter thread to consolidate all the insights gained by this research. Check it out.

image

Gen-X? Who are they?

Gen-X (short for Generation X) are basically people with birth years around 1960–1980, that is, the age group around 40 to 60 year-old's at the time when this is being written. That’s basically our (millennials’) parents!

Why do this?

This was a research assignment that was done as a part of 10kdesigners cohort. Our task was to perform the research part of the design process to understand how our families use WhatsApp. The purpose was to develop an understanding of their behavior, usage patterns and gather findings that can be distilled into insights.

🙏🏽

One last thing before we jump right into each one of them!

My process

Most of the insights are drawn from the primary research that was conducted. The information gathered from the primary research was basically of 2 types - behavioral and attitudinal.

Primary research was done through -

User Observation

🧐

I believe observation is one of the most effective ways of getting to know the users. Its behavioral when users are observed in their own environment. This is a very powerful exercise to build empathy with who you are trying to understand.

🤫

This was done by sneaking into my parents and relatives WhatsApp and collecting as much information I could. Doing this was super fun and did lead me to lost of insights. Collected screenshots and put all those in one place to connect the dots later. PS- Did take their permission.

🤝

I wanted more and broader information on the same, so I asked few of my friends to do the same (sneak in their parents WhatsApp). Then asked them to send me the screenshots and their observations on how their parents use WhatsApp.

User Interview

🥂

User interviews are mostly attitudinal. Talking to the users and getting to know them is a tricky part. I already had done few user interviews for other projects, which did help me at times. I tried to keep these interviews offline. Talked directly with my parents.

🤙🏽

When meeting them was not possible, I tried to conduct these interviews on WhatsApp itself. Either through text/audio messages or a WhatsApp call. By this I was able to observe on how they use WhatsApp too.

I did secondary research, It was the initial readings that gave a very broad perspective on the same. I will refer to those when I use their information and insights to convey insights that I have gathered from primary research.

All the insights and information below are from my observations and interviews.

🍿

Grab a popcorn, let's start!

Communication/Community

image

This is the primary feature of WhatsApp. This feature is the entry point for most of the Gen-X, they come to WhatsApp for communicating and forming small groups/communities.

One very important for WhatsApp being so successful is because the learning curve is super simple. Its pretty much the same as a default messaging app that most of the Gen-X is familiar with. They can start seeing the value immediately after opening the app and not being overwhelmed.

🧵

Here is a short thread that I wrote on how a movie(96') can change how Gen-X uses WhatsApp. This also explains how they first got on to WhatsApp. Do check it out!

Okay, So how do they use WhatsApp to make this happen?

1️⃣

WhatsApp groups are one of the most used feature by Gen-X. Most of them message more on groups than on private chats. Family groups are mandatory for every family, they share, talk and engage extensively on these groups.

2️⃣

They are also mostly part of groups for formal purposes like the Apartment maintenance group etc. These groups are not active, but they messages are of high importance.

3️⃣

Most of the forward messages are in vernacular languages. They are all well scripted. Gen-X unlike us always prefer communicating on WhatsApp on their own vernacular language because it feels more personal to them.

4️⃣

Interestingly most of the messages are not text messages, but they were voice messages. Only the short one line messages, forward messages and high important messages were text. Other that that they extensively use voice message. They say the reason being, its hard to type messages in vernacular languages and also text messages lack personality. When they listen to voice message it feels more like the person himself is talking. My father's brother receives almost 500 voice messages a day from his childhood cricket group.

image
5️⃣

Forward messages, daily morning motivation videos/images are extremely common on most groups and private chats.

Social Media

image

We use social media like Twitter and Instagram because we have most connections on these platform. Similarly, Gen-X people get most reach from WhatsApp! Interesting right? YES it is.

If communication/community makes them come to WhatsApp, Social media makes them stay on WhatsApp forever. All of the people who matter to them are on WhatsApp and they can connect very easily with them.

Okay, So how do they use WhatsApp to make this happen?

1️⃣

We use social media to receive validation from our network, their network is most active on WhatsApp groups so they do it here. They treat these messages as a post, they craft the messages by taking time to explain what they have done or have been doing and the post.

2️⃣

They receive their validation through messages, which they engage with and start a conversation out of it immediately on the same platform! How easy is that?

3️⃣

Gen-X use WhatsApp status more than any other age group. They keep uploading pictures, messages they come across, birthday wishes and what not. Few of them on an average upload 20 stories per day!!!

image
image

News

image

We are now seeing a trend of receiving various news on WhatsApp through a broadcast or a admin only groups. But Gen-X have been receiving these for a long time now through Forward messages.

We all know our parents are so addicted to news channels, and there is no doubt they engage with the same content on whatever platform they are on. 7 out of 10 I interviewed are a part of one such news group.

Okay, So how do they use WhatsApp to make this happen?

1️⃣

Most of the messages are Forward messages. They are of high frequency and usually don't end up building up conversations. They have very low engagement unless the news is super controversial.

2️⃣

They trust these messages. Now they are gaining awareness slowly because they have started using the internet more than WhatsApp. But for very old and less aware people, some of these messages are misleading.

3️⃣

The reason they trust is because they are receiving these from trusted people, and thus the information gains trust immediately.

Shopping

image

Yes, you got me right! Gen-X use WhatsApp for shopping. These are 99% clothing stores. This is a really interesting use case of WhatsApp. Believe me, my friends mom is addicted to this. She is a part of many of these groups and keeps looking for new items! Window shopping for Gen-X :)

How do they discover these groups and what makes them addictive?

1️⃣

They give their number at small offline clothing stores. They add all of them to WhatsApp groups and maintain the group.

2️⃣

Relatives suggest these groups to them when they have a conversation on where they buy cloths from, which is a pretty common topic among Gen-X.

3️⃣

WhatsApp is a high frequency platform. We open WhatsApp so many times a day, so there is no need to open a specific app for shopping when it lands directly on WhatsApp. They come to WhatsApp for other purposes and land on one of these groups eventually

4️⃣

These products are easily sharable. Just imagine how easy it is to share a on WhatsApp vs a product on Amazon? These messages are very simple, easy to share so that it spreads very fast and allows for conversations to start.

Education

image

Listen carefully! My mom is a drawing teacher who teaches drawing to children of age 8-12. She primarily uses WhatsApp for all her teaching and information passing. Not only my mom, but our neighbor who takes tuition for students of similar age uses WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is effective and used only for small group of students.

Why and how do they use WhatsApp for the same?

1️⃣

Everyone uses WhatsApp, so its the best that we also use WhatsApp for all purposes. Its really hard to miss the information that are passed on WhatsApp.

2️⃣

"I take online classes through WhatsApp video call". They work the best for 1:1 classes that my mom conducts.

3️⃣

They clear all their students doubts on WhatsApp itself because there is not much of traffic and works best for both!

Payments?

image

Now that we have seen how Gen-X uses WhatsApp, we can now try to question and understand in what all ways WhatsApp can be used.

WhatsApp is a powerful platform and used at very high frequency by its users. Gen-X is engaged with WhatsApp like no other app and they do almost everything on WhatsApp.

❓

Can WhatsApp payments be real in coming years?

My answer would be - YES! Because-

💫

Very high frequency

🧬

Strongest network

😁

High trust

💪🏾

Abundance of resource

10 out of 10 people I interview didn't know about the payment feature on WhatsApp!

Surprisingly, 7 out of 10 were ready to use WhatsApp as their payments app. But we need to understand that this is not a behavioral insight.

Can WhatsApp be a Super App in the future for Gen-X?

Two most disruptive companies Facebook and Jio have joined hands together! They know the power of WhatsApp among Indian population and they are not putting this under the radar.

In a way, it seems that Facebook and Jio hope to turn WhatsApp into what WeChat is in China, by integrating WhatsApp with JioMart, which is a Jio service aimed at bringing local kinara stores to online. - read the full article.

🤯

This partnership has way more potential that we think. It can totally change the way each one of us use WhatsApp. So excited to see how Gen-X uses WhatsApp after all this happens!

Will meet you guys with Gen-X once that happens,

🙏🏽

Thanks and BYE BYE!

🧵

I made a Twitter thread to consolidate all the insights gained in this research. Check it out.