The naked truth about digital natives. The 1st of 8 rules from research findings now in English.

Stupid brat.

How many times have we heard our parents’ generation say this charming phrase to us?
And you have to admit, they weren’t wrong. Because rebelling, let’s be fair occupied quite a vast proportion of our time…but it wasn’t our parents fault either. One generation was just pushing another, in a constant battle. And then… we turned into our parents.
Stupid brat, we now find ourselves saying, it’s our turn. Except that this time, adolescent rebellion is different, very different. It’s the most extreme it’s ever been and we’ve put ourselves in this situation. Only this time, we’ve given them the stick to beat us with, in fact we’ve created it ourselves.
And what is this stick? In a nutshell, the digital phenomenon.
For years, I have been observing a change which seems to me to be much more fundamental than what studies have been able to show up until now. Everyone seems obsessed about the online behaviour of "digital natives". Important but more important still is the impact on their lives, on reality. And so far no relationship was established between digital and real life.
That’s why last year, a huge study was launched by the digital planning teams of JWT Paris, with just one simple objective: to understand if the digital phenomenon had an impact on their real life behaviour. A study based on a dialogue with experts in psychoanalysis and digital behaviour, individual interviews, and a vast, quantitative study.

  The results are clearcut.
First of all the digital phenomenon is THE cause for the greatest changes in behaviour in the "digital native" population.

  And it is causing such a shock wave that the impact spreads into the depths of the "digital immigrant" population.
We have called this study: « digital footprints ».
To know how to dissect your public’s reactions, you need to understand 8 factors. Not just for pleasure. But simply put to put marketing strategies and action to work in tune with these new behaviours

In the coming days, I will explore each of these points, detail their manifestations and behaviour which characterizes them. I will then use this as a springboard to evaluate how marketers need to adapt their communications.



The digital world, its natives, what is the impact? Here is the first in a series of digital footprints that we have uncovered from our study. A point which has nothing virtual about it but which is the first demonstration of the digital impact on real behaviour.


  The JLSS book released last week is enlightening. Titled "Too Fast" (‘trop vite’), it describes a society that stopped thinking to move forward. It laments, "Our taste for speed blinds us".

It’s a fact: the "digital natives" can’t stand waiting. AND it’s not just about speed, but also the love of actual addictive syndromes.
72% of 12-25 year olds state that they could not spend a day without going on the internet, "Its the first thing I do in the morning, before my coffee, I look at what’s gone on" (Marie, 22 yrs).
On average, they send between 60 and 80 sms each day… 45% check their inbox more than 5 times a day, and this addiction gets absolutely everywhere : 67% use the internet in bed, in their pyjamas.
Holding is therefore simply inconceivable, the BBC estimating a 9 seconds tolerance for a wait on the web.
They have therefore naturally developed a real intolerance for all forms of waiting, frustration or lacking anything.

The new magazine "Be" expresses itself clearly, calling itself "the magazine for the now generation: for those who want it all, right now, even before Paris Hilton ".
Because the digital revolution has given us exactly that: everything, immediately. And if it’s possible in the virtual world, it becomes a necessity in the real world too.
To communicate with this generation necessitates taking the initiative. Because communication becomes just like a packet of crisps; "Only good when it’s fresh from the packet".
Simple, rapid, impactful: unable to absorb a message which would be any longer than the little time or attention they are likely to devote to it. Simplicity has become a question of survival. It’s now necessary to take into consideration the fact that our public suffers from "attention disorder".
Immediate, instantaneous: The reward is now given to immediate gratification. The success of iPhone or nokia ovi applications are good examples of this, allowing all research to be sped up, also like the immediate Kit Kat promotion: I eat therefore I win.

If these elements come to change the message itself, the media allocation is also impacted: the shelf-life of messages is shortening. A product, a message, a brand must evolve. Because to stay where you are you have to run, to advance, you have to go twice as fast. And that forces us to create messages which rapidly evolve. Again, like KitKat, the launch film is speedily relayed by new messages, create to help the platform live beyond it’s launch and made to re-excite the interest of the target audience in the message.

Poor JLSS, the world moves "too fast".  A statement that’s not wrong. But it would be dangerous to take refuge in this position. Because if the world moves "too quickly", it has still not yet reached its cruising speed: the previous generation is there with both feets still on the breaks…

tomorrow: the law? Pull the other one…

Adweek’s 2009 Global Agency of the Year

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