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Gen X, Gen Y ... Creating Havoc for Marketers
"Whatever you've got to tell me, I'll find out through the natural course of time." - Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future (1985)
We hate kids...O.K., the word "hate" may be a little too strong.
We're jealous of 'em!!!
There, we said it...we're glad...we've got two of our own!!!
We're part of the Baby Boomer Generation--(there are two parts -- 1946 - 1964).
Then, there are the Gen Xers ('65 - '78).
Then Gen Y ('79 - '89).
Now, it's the iGen (1990 - 2009).
No, that isn't the "i" Jobs would like. It's the "i" as in instant, immediate, individual.
They're creating havoc with business because we simply cannot figure out how to monetize tomorrow's hardware, software, service solutions.
We loved the old CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) chart of technology adoption:
- PCs took 21 years for 50% household penetration
- Color TV took 13 years
- Cellphones took 12 years
- Cordless phones took 15 years
Yeah! Mainstream adoption is taking less and less time.
The younger groups start out with a clean slate. They've never known a world without their toys and they're a natural part of their lives.
Or, as Marty McFly said, "Which... is what makes time travel possible."
Just look at what it took for our newer technologies to gain critical mass.
Faster Learning - The day of the slow, steady introduction, acceptance, mainstream usage of technology is speeding by us. The younger generations seem to have no difficulty in absorbing multiple technologies, applications in almost no time at all. They individualize the offerings to their specific wants/needs. Source - Rewired, Dr. Larry Rosen
And the little dwerbs?
Crud, they are light years ahead of us because so many of the really neat things were "just" introduced when they were learning to crawl and talk.
Just since 2000, look at what we introduced for them:
No wonder our daughter is comfortable going back and forth with three screens texting, tweeting, IMing, skyping, blogging.
More Tools, More Access - iGen and GenY kids not only get the technology tools sooner, they also put them into use more quickly to stay in touch with everyone. Privacy and security are of little concern to them, since they believe "everything" is out there and available to them. Source - Pew Internet's American Life Project
She can't believe the little girl down the street has her own mobile phone and she's only seven or eight.
Doesn't bother us. What bothers us is that the little urchin can text like crazy, and we have a tough time even using the pre-programmed quick notes on the phone.
Text or Talk - While kids seem to be getting mobile phones earlier and earlier, many will use the units to text more than make phone calls. Of course, spelling is still a challenge but...
They just seem to be getting the communications and creative tools earlier and earlier.
Staying in Touch - Kids are getting mobile phones at an earlier and earlier age. Whether it is the challenges of the world we live in or the parent's need to give youngsters more than they had, whatever it is ...it's working. Then too, there's the fact that families are increasingly freeing their homes of old-fashioned landlines. Source -- MRI
iGeners really do believe Dr. Brown's words, "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
According to a Pew Internet study:
- one-third of kids under 5 have a television in their bedrooms
- two-thirds of children, pre-teens and teenagers have bedroom TVs
- half the school-aged children - up to the early teens - have a video game console and a handheld video game player
- half the pre-teen students have their own cell phone and iPod
- only one in four 9- to 12-year-olds have a computer in their bedrooms
- nearly half of all high school students have computers in their rooms
The little girl down the street had her first computer when she was three (our daughter had to settle for an Atari game system).
A number of anthropologists and child psychologists say that all the great technology is wiring their minds differently from ours.
Gotta' be some truth to it because the little girl can multitask like a champ!
She can e-mail, instant message, chat, handle calls, text message like crazy.
It amazes our daughter.
In fact, she thinks the whole idea of "little kids" with all these tools is just ridiculous!
But, as Marty said, "Believe me, it makes perfect sense."
No wonder these kids are better than us Boomers.
They're rewired and able to multitask better according to a Cal State study:
- 16- to 18-year-olds perform seven tasks in their free time - texting, IMing, checking Facebook, "watching" TV
- folks in their early 20s can only handle six
- people in their 30s can fumble through five and a half
- Boomers? Huh ????
And the volume of calls and text messages that kids handle just keeps growing and growing.
Phone Bills Grow - While teens and tweens steadily increase their voice/text calls, they also tap into all of the social media opportunities that are now available to them, including downloading music, videos and social site updates. Source - Nielsen
According to Nielsen's research:
- 5- to 8-year-olds communicate "electronically" a half-hour a day
- 9- to 10-year olds communicate nearly two-and-a-half hours
- 13- to 15-year-olds more than six hours
- 16- to 18-year-olds eight-and-a-half-hours a day
Our son is so good with his wired/wireless tools he can create text messages with his eyes closed.
Man, we have to cheat periodically just to touch-type!
Our brain was wired and our hands were trained for a big keyboard.
We're not quite as retarded as Lorraine Baines when she said, "I've never seen purple underwear before!'
But sometimes we feel close.
There are more differences we have to come to grips with.
We talked to a friend in Florida who said he and his wife use Skype video with their son in San Francisco every weekend to talk with their grandkids.
When they visit, the youngsters know them instantly.
The iGeners (and their older peers) just seem to move more smoothly between the virtual and real world.
Between Two Worlds - Today's teens and tweens move almost seamlessly between the virtual and real worlds. Transporting themselves back and forth, they enrich their education and experiences.
The "Printed" Word
We've been struggling to read books on a Kindle.
We still like the "feel" of a book.
The little kid down the street?
She just refers to the Kindle as "our books."
If we step outside of our comfort zone, she's right.
It's the content, not the form.
But gawd it's so hard to give up the printed word!
We agree with Marty though, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
The increasingly rewired generations do stuff, handle stuff, process stuff in ways those of us in the business of developing, pitching, selling hardware/software/service are having a helluva' time figuring out.
These generations of influencers (we didn't say earners) are:
˘Open to Change
They want it
˘Available Anytime 24/7
˘Flexible, Easy-to- Use
˘Interactive -Under Their Controlled
Oh yeah...they want answers and "it" NOW!!!!
Generation Gaps - While they may be only a few years apart physically, Gen Yers and iGeners have completely different expectations of the products and services available to them today. While multitasking increases in the early years, psychologists and socialists have mixed views on whether or not the younger generations will be more selective or have a shorter attention span as they get older.
They don't want to wait because they're never off the grid!
That's gonna' play havoc for the folks who want to inform, educate folks to sell and support stuff.
It means we can't afford to be off the grid either!
But that sorta, kinda changes everything doesn't it?
We recently attended the RSA conference and the Boomers, Gen Xers were sweating through all the security challenges they were facing.
The Gen Yers and iGeners aren't that worried about privacy. Cripes, they tweet, text, IM everything!
They accept the fact that anyone can geoposition their phones.
Being out there is just part of being!
Our challenge is how in the heck we rewire our brain to keep up with them.
The industry has to figure out what they want/need, how to develop/deliver products and solutions.
As far as they're concerned, it will just be there...we just don't know what it is !!!!
Unlike Dr. Brown, we can't afford to wait 30 years to talk about all the things that are happening right now or in the days ahead.
We need his Flux Capacitor...
Then, we can zip forward and catch up with the iGeners to get a peek at what they need then...now.
Cuz' right now, we're real hasbeens!
Undercover author Miles Weston has spent more than 30 years in the storage, software and video industry, indulging in, among other things, marketing activities in promoting PC, CE, communications, content technology and their applications . Contact Miles through his editor by clicking here.