Generation C: Digital Natives In Command
For twenty years, people have been comparing the transformations of the Internet era to the social revolution that the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press ushered in. The development of the printing press at the dawn of the Renaissance opened the door to the democratization of information and the wider dissemination of ideas. Five hundred years later, the Internet and social media have paved the way for an even greater social and economic reordering, one that influences all aspects of life. Humanity has finally entered the digital era.
Digital natives in command
Numerous authors and researchers have focused on the emergence of new communication technologies, the Internet and social media most particularly, to understand better how the economy has been transformed over the last century. Before Gutenberg, knowledge was carefully documented, and preserved by monks to prevent it from being lost to posterity. The free flow of information spawned by the Gutenberg era spelled an end to the age of the medieval encyclopedic scribe. In much the same way, Information Communications Technology (ICT), the Internet and social media signal a profound change in how information is disseminated. This trend will accelerate as the generations born and raised in the digital age take charge.
These digital natives, found among the new generations Y (1979 – 1994) and Z (1995 – 2000), are the first of a new breed that grew up in an environment where digital media, videos games, computers and cell phones were universally available. Thanks to these new technologies, which have become practically extensions of their personalities, today’s young people treat and consume information differently. In short, digital natives want to take an active role in all the processes of information dissemination, from production to consumption to transformation!
The latest wave of the democratization of information is giving digital natives unprecedented influence, which is being felt in many aspects of life including:
- Across other generations
- Economic, labor and education policy
- Health and environmental issues
- Leisure and family matters
Simply put, digital natives are emerging as a dominant force in society. Indeed, in less than five years they will account for more than half of the labor force. Naturally, today’s young people are most experienced and active in this new digital ecosystem, but they are at the forefront of a revolution that goes far beyond their generation alone and eventually encompasses all online consumers, from baby boomers to the newest generations. This is the generation of ¨prosumers¨ that we call now the Generation C. (Read also: Generation C: The 9 Spheres of influence of Social Media Influence).
In the realm of mobile, the “connected consumer” is King!
Currently, according to statistics from the Canadian Association of Wireless Telecommunications, three out four adults (27.9 million) already have a smart phone that allows them to stay connected to the web, and over a quarter are using it to conduct banking transactions or mobile payments. In 2015, it is projected that one in three will use a Smartphone for mobile transactions.
According to recent research from Pew Research Center (January 2014), more than 58.8% of all Americans adults are using smartphones or tablets – 83% in the 18-29 age group. A similar pattern is reflected throughout the world.
For many users, access to mobile Internet also proves essential to meeting basic needs. Today, it is easier for a digital native to part with a new car or a new love relationship than their cell phone. For mobile users, these tools are an extension of their lives, and they now insist on using these tools in their work environments.
This phenomenon is being repeated across the globe, which has led to a massive migration of advertisers to new mobile platforms. Since 2010, spending on advertising for mobile applications has exploded, and it is expected that this trend will quadruple by 2015 to more than $ 25 billion. Obviously, this commercial and popular success has opened the door to the revival of related technologies such as geolocation, QR codes and m-couponing, while enabling the development of new technologies such as Cloud Computing (CC), and Near Field Communication (NFC), which will soon be as ubiquitous on the Web as mobile payment already is.
As might be expected, geotagged applications that take advantage of unsolicited promotions are used by a majority (81%) of digital natives. For example, 28% of young people will utilize such apps several times a day, and 58% of digital users will share their location for greater rewards. Obviously, these numbers will only increase going forward. At this rate, in a few years the young adults of Generation Y will become the leading economic force in our society. However, other generations are still a contributing factor, in their way, to the growing power of social media influence and the rise of the connected consumer.
The ¨prosumer¨ at the center of issues
In less time than it takes a generation to renew, the Internet has become a facet of our daily lives. From entertainment to education, from home to work, from fun to practice, the Web and new technologies are now essential for the proper functioning of our society. Very quickly, digital users have mastered the new technologies and appropriated them to heighten their experience and further their personal potential. As the age of social media and mobile technologies establishes its hegemony, the digital natives will take the reins of the new economy.
Today’s digital consumer takes advantage of the virtually unlimited accessibility of products and content on the Internet. As a result, today’s digital user is a more informed consumer, who now takes an active and decisive role in the new economic arena. In short, tech natives are playing a more active role in all stages of the economic cycle (i.e., the production, distribution, transformation and consumption of products and information). They are becoming ¨prosumers.”
Simply put, “the prosumer” controls and chooses what he will consult, comment on, consume and recommend to his peers. Indeed, he becomes, in some ways, the creator and distributor of his own channel of content on the Web. Replacing mass media (broadcasting), the new digital society has quickly risen to the era of ¨egocasting¨ (or diffusion niche) via social networks. In doing so, the ¨prosumer¨ from the Generation C bypasses the traditional media and has clout with advertising agencies and marketing departments. Individuals and entrepreneurs are among, the biggest winner of the social media revolution.
Over the past several years, connected consumers from the Generation C (from baby boomers to Generation Z), have been able to take full advantage of the technological tools available to them to establish new rules of the game, which they are using to their advantage. Today, guided by digital natives, these new consumers seek greater rewards in the act of purchase, and are no longer content with the traditional commercial offer. In short, digital connoisseurs want to be a part of the deal! We’re now talking more about collaborative consumption. That’s the big revolution!
Do you agree that the ¨connected consumers¨ are taking control of the new economy and that the Millenials are leading this revolution? What is your experience about the ¨connected consumers¨ and the ¨digital natives? Please share your comments and experiences?
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