I perused a recent survey conducted in the U.K. about how young adults, a.k.a. “Digital Natives,” feel about the Web.Â Like all surveys of this age group and how they interact with technology, it was fascinating.
The survey involved nearly a thousand participants ages 16 to 24, and the good news for us as online marketers was that 75% of respondents said that they “couldn’t live without the Internet.” Wow, that’s a bold statement indicating that the Web will continue to be a central part of that generation’s lives, and will be essential to how they research, form opinions, make decisions, and buy.
Maybe it’s not “bad news,” but the challenge this presents is: How will our generation of digital marketers and online businesspeople keep up with the attitudes and expectations of a new segment that doesn’t remember the absence of the Web?
I can’t help but think of my latest TV series obsession, Mad Men.Â The fictitious ad agency, Sterling Cooper, hired two young upstarts, Smitty and Kurt, to help them figure out what the youth of the early 1960s was thinking.Â They informed their hopelessly old employers that the youth “don’t want to be told what to do or how to act. [They] just want to be.“Â Sound familiar?Â It sounds corny, but Sterling Cooper did the right thing by bringing in outside perspective to help them better empathize with their target audiences.
So, what are we going to do? Should all marketing teams have their own “Smitty and Kurt” to help them grok how Digital Natives want to interact with businesses?Â Should we spend more time spying on our children and grandchildren as they network their always-available lives at lightning speed?Â Let us know in the comments what specific tactics you’re using to keep up with what “the kids are into these days.”