In a few short years, my son will be in a coveted marketing demo. And as all generations before him, there are unique attributes about their experiences that can be challenging for marketers. Baby Boomers have their characteristics that help inform marketing choices as does my generation (X) and the millenials right behind me. We are all a bunch of marketing conundrums, however, with each generation the channels in which to engage continues to grow. Boomers are more confortable with more traditional media like television, radio and print. But as you go through the demographic chain the channels expand.
My generation pays attention to more than radio and television. We use social and mobile to an increasing degree. However, we still listen to the radio and watch television. And the Millenials are the most diverse in terms of their platforms and media choices. They are very savvy not only to new channels and content, but they, as a cohort, might be the most marketing savvy. They know they are being marketed to. But, this next cohort…I think will prove to undo most modern marketers. If you think there are too many options and channels now…just wait.
I have been calling this next demographic the “On-Demand Generation”. This group does not typically have to wait for anything. They get their entertainment and information and knowledge truly in an On Demand format. They have no need to open a dictionary, read a thermometer, or understand the hands on a clock. They do not prescribe to television schedules nor do they understand the Holllywood release cycle. They simply don’t need to nor understand why they have to wait for anything. The world is at their fingers and they are happy to engage in this world that is becoming increasingly designed to be more real time and on demand than ever before. And because there is so much to the world that is NOT on demand, this cohort is increasingly frustrated with the “old way”.
For example, they see an ad for a movie and they want to be able to download it on their Apple TV right now. Theater? Why is that a requirement to enjoying this entertainment I want right now? And just wait until they are old enough to access some form of social media, because they have ideas on how to let you get them whatever they want right now. Let me be clear, it is not that they are an impatient group. They just do not have any history to having to wait for something like entertainment. Oh, and ads, forget it. They skip them or walk away from them. They know and aren’t buying it.
What does this mean for marketers? There will be three things that are going to be critical when approaching the On Demand Generation.
Create a Flexible Framework
More than ever, it is going to become more difficult to cut through the clutter. This group has more channels, devices and platforms at their ready and they wield them all with great aplomb. To stand out, you should be sharpening your personalization strategy and skills. They are not going to respond to mass marketing the same way previous generations have. They want a catered approach and a lot of options to customize.
Be responsive. In every possible way.
Right now, marketers are all talking about responsive design, which is awesome. But for this cohort, it is not going to be enough. We need to be thinking about responsive experiences, platforms, products, and brands. The level of responsiveness that will be required is going to change things so dramatically. This generation is going to require businesses and marketers to need to be very nimble and agile. This group is not fickle, actually, they are very loyal. However, they do want what they want now and expect to get it. For example, let’s say you have a game that is console driven. This cohort is going to want to take the game to school with them and play it on the wall of the playground. You need to be ready for that with a responsive, on demand execution. Scary? Yes. Cool? Um, I wanna play that game now!
Build scalable feedback loops
Get ready for a LOT of feedback. But, not just feedback. Be ready for ideas and solutions, too. So start building this concept into your plans. Because, as I mentioned, they are not going to be patient while you get it done, they will move on. They are going to want to not only engage with the products and services you’re offering, but they also want to impact their design and development. This group has more ideas than they know what to do with and they have been given tools to indulge that creativity.
Every generation offers its own unique challenges for marketers, this next one, the On Demand one, is going to be something else. I think adapting to millenials and their needs will be a great warm up for this next big heavy lift. Happy Marketing!