The next generation of customers will be very different from today’s boomer or X-er. You may remember a piece I wrote about this new group – The On-Demand Generation. The oldest among them are on the cusp of tweendom and even more so than the Millennial generation, this group has no capacity to understand waiting and they want to be really involved in content creation. This reality was brought home for me at the end of Spring Break this year. On our last day, here was the exchange:
Son: “I cannot wait to be home again”
Me: “Why? What did you miss more, the winter or your chores?”
Son: “I’m just sick of channels. I mean, I don’t like to go through all the boring channels to find my favorites and I really don’t like that they pick what’s coming on next. I like to pick what’s on next.”
While in one moment it reinforced my thinking about him and his generation, that they will not be satisfied with what someone else wants them to experience or see. They will not tolerate complete control of their experiences. I believe that this group is why DVD/Digital release from theater cycles are shortening. My son just doesn’t understand why he can’t watch The LEGO Movie from his house when he wants to. He has a point.
This group will change the face of marketing in so many ways. They will have a deep desire to co-create, they want to provide you with feedback and lots of it and finally, they need it the way they want it. They will not suffer walled gardens. But, what makes me really nervous as a marketer…How will they ever find my product?
If this group wants total control over their experiences, how will they discover new products, toys, entertainment? They skip commercials. They have no interest in waiting or previews. And by the time they are old enough for social media, zero branded messages will get through Facebook (I kid, mostly). And if we are not discovering things through advertising and commercials and networks, how will this generation find our products and services. How will they discover us to fall in love with us?
A Few Ways Forward
Without a doubt, Word of Mouth is going to be more important than ever. That is how TV shows as well as toys and games are getting discovered now. We hear new ideas from our friends and mostly from our friends with older siblings. But, it is straight up word of mouth. We are finding new toys, games or entertainment because our friends are telling us how cool they are.
Algorithms will be even more powerful in terms of discovery. This cohort is very comfortable with technology, touchscreens, and the Internet. They consume YouTube videos ravenously, even in school. So, algorithms will be a critical part of discovery when this generation comes of age. They are already accustomed to the message: If you like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you will like Power Rangers. The problem is that these algorithms need to get better. The challenge here is how will our products be found by the creators of the algorithm and what will it cost us?
Finally, they browse and they like to be in-store. As the push for omnichannel grow stronger, never forget that people do like to touch and interact with products. Retail isn’t going anywhere and kids love to see (and try) the newest stuff. I’ve rarely been in a large retailer without seeing a kid pouring over the toys, video games, or video game toys for that matter. Having a smart retail strategy will go far for this group.
The other option
Build loyalty now and build it deep! Look at Pokemon. The institution introduced in the 90s that remains a complete craze to this day. For crying out loud, my son learned to read and do multiplication thanks to those cards! This group is insanely loyal and they will open their wallet for those things that have captured their imagination. But, that’s the key, you have to have something that is so immersive that it can unlock their ability to create.
This issue is one that really flummoxes me. I would love to hear from you. How will the next generation of customers find our products? Or how do you think we can stand out to this up-coming “On Demand Generation”?