Revolution #4: Rise of the Digital Natives
Much has been written about the impact of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) on the workforce, but the next wave of workers and consumers entering the workforce will be the digital natives (those born after 1997). Digital Natives are the first generation in human history to be born into the world of hyper-connected information overload. However, since they’ve been connected since birth, digital natives do not experience the flood of information hurling at them as anything more than just “the way things are,” and always have been—for them.
At the moment, millennials are assuming positions of power in all walks of life, and their impact on everything from viral memes, infotainment, social media, spheres of influence and cross-platform content has been profound. But when digital natives start adding their ideas and influence into the mix, the pace of change will accelerate even faster. This acceleration will feel to older generations like constant chaos and disruption, but to digital natives, it will simply be business as usual.
Revolution #5: From Selling to Sharing
Since millennials and digital natives have been aggressively marketed to their entire lives, they are also extremely savvy about the media they consume. Direct, blatant pitches don’t work on them. They hate being sold to, and to them, commercials are just the things you fast-forward through to get back to the program. Also, since they are wary of institutions, they are much more likely to trust the opinion of a friend than anyone else, hence the rise of social media as a powerful marketing tool.
In the future, selling is going to be less about persuasion and more about participation. Brands that position themselves as a trusted “friend” have a much better chance of succeeding in this environment. That’s not a new idea; the key is truly being worthy of the customer’s trust. For example, Whole Foods knows that its customers care about the ecological, political, and social impact of the food they consume. To help make that information more readily available to its customers, the company is investing in IT infrastructure to support its vision of total product transparency—a move it hopes will inspire the sort of trust and loyalty all companies are looking for in the 21st century.