The App Attention Index published by Cisco AppDynamics reveals how younger consumers — “The Application Generation” — is punishing brands whose applications and digital services fail to perform.


Across the world, attitudes and behaviors toward applications and digital services are evolving at speed. People are becoming more sophisticated, selective and deliberate in their use of applications, and they’re growing increasingly angry with brands that deliver poor digital experiences. Interestingly, these changes are most prevalent among younger consumers aged 18-34.

The latest research from Cisco AppDynamics, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, reveals that younger consumers are now expecting the most innovative, intuitive and secure digital experiences, and they feel empowered to ditch any application that falls short.

For application owners, the research provides a stark warning: ensure your digital services are operating at peak performance at all times or risk losing an entire generation of consumers.

How attitudes toward applications and digital services have evolved since the pandemic

The latest App Attention Index — the fifth in the series — reveals that consumer appetite for digital services has remained strong since the pandemic. But there is now a sense of freedom that was absent in 2021 when the last report was published, and many people had no option but to rely on digital services for almost every aspect of their lives. Consumers now have choices once again — putting the application user firmly back in control.

Consumers continue to enjoy the speed and convenience applications provide. But what’s changed are their expectations of how applications should perform and their reactions when they encounter problems. Sixty-two percent of consumers claim their expectations for digital experiences are far higher now than they were two years ago, and 64% report that they are now less forgiving of poor digital services.

Introducing the Application Generation

These changes are most pronounced within a new cohort of young consumers that is emerging across the world. Coined the “Application Generation,” they relied on applications to get them through the pandemic — for their education, to start their careers and to stay close to friends — and now they’re using them to thrive in a hybrid world. Indeed, they are the heaviest users of digital services, using an average of 41 different applications each month, compared to 30 applications for people aged 35 and above.

Critically, the Application Generation is more discerning about application quality. They’re constantly evaluating the relevance of the digital services they use, and they think hard before downloading new applications. They’re motivated to get rid of “application clutter.” They want every digital experience to add value to their lives, and they pride themselves on only using the very best applications.

But these young consumers are growing increasingly frustrated with brands that continue to deliver bad digital experiences — and, alarmingly, as many as 94% of them have encountered poorly performing applications in the past year.

The Application Generation considers any brand whose application doesn’t hit the mark as demonstrating a lack of respect. And as a result, they’re hitting back. In the last 12 months, they’ve deleted an average of seven applications due to bad digital experiences, and 70% report they’re now more likely to warn other people against using digital services that don’t perform.

Application observability is vital to meet the needs of the Application Generation

For application owners, the message is clear: a single slip-up in application performance will see huge numbers of customers deleting their applications.

Application observability is, therefore, critical for organizations to deliver always-on, seamless digital experiences. With application observability, IT teams can rapidly detect, prioritize and resolve application availability, performance and security issues before end user experience is impacted.

Brands need to recognize they are now operating in an environment where digital experience is a business-critical imperative. The Application Generation has arrived, and they’re determined to use only the most innovative, highly performing and secure applications and digital services. The bar for digital experience has been raised, and application owners need to be ready.

Ronak Desai, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco AppDynamics and Full-Stack Observability