Paul Berney, CMO of Mobile Marketing Association, argues that Digital Natives are not as young as we might think. He also considers a future where consumers will expect to do anything and everything from one device.Before his recent trials and tribulations, Rupert Murdoch was one of those business leaders whose public statements were often seized on as critical insights into media today and in the future. Some time ago he neatly divided the world into digital natives and digital immigrants and that classification is used by many in the mobile industry to explain not just the need to act, but also the way to differentiate consumers. Digital natives it is argued have never known a world without the internet, email and mobile phones; of instant connection and engagement and it colours everything they do.
A frequent mistake though is to consider digital natives to be teenagers. In my experience it is everyone under 40 years old and there is plenty of research to back that up rather than rely on my anecdotal evidence. Last year Orange published a study (Exposure 2) showing the average mobile media user to be 38 years old. Google, Comscore and others will share more in-depth research around this at our Forum In London in October by the way.
The critical point with digital natives is expectation. Having grown up in a world of instant gratification and instant communication and engagement, they have increased expectations that they will be able to interact with every brand or organisation instantly. Failure to give them this will be a source of frustration and ultimately a reason not to chose a brand. In this case mobile is both the cause and enabler of an irrevocable change in consumer behaviour; this expectation will only be ratcheted up further and further by every single interaction a consumer has via the mobile channel.
I had a vision of the mobile consumers of the future when I saw a fantastic advert from Telstra in Australia in which a class of school children are asked to identify a mobile phone; one of them comes up with a long list of functions before mentioning the handset can be used a a telephone. It’s a funny advert but nonetheless shows a vision of the future where consumers expect to do anything and everything from one device. Figuring out what that means for your brand would be a good starting point for creating a strategy for mobile and its a much better starting point than thinking “we need an app”.