Our mobile phones are becoming a reflection of our identity.

One of our 10 Trends for 2013 is the advent of The Mobile Fingerprint: the idea that our mobile devices are becoming a reflection of identity, given that they hold all kinds of personal information and can double as a wallet, keys and more. Not surprisingly, younger generations are the most likely to see their phone as tied into their identity, as we found in a November survey. (We polled 1,016 adults and 100 teens in the U.S. and the U.K. using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool.) Around half of teens and Millennials see their phone as a “mini-me.” And more than 4 in 10 Millennials say their phone seems to know more about them than they do. Across generations, and especially among teens, people view the phone as exceedingly private—accessing someone’s phone is seen as akin to reading a diary.

As the smartphone evolves into an identity hub, consumers will become more dependent on it, both emotionally and practically. Retailers, handset manufacturers, telecom providers, software developers and other marketers will need to consider how the consumer’s increasingly intimate connection to the phone will change behaviors, sensitivities and mindset.