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Does Anyone Really Know Their Target Audience Anymore??

The Tribe
February 22, 2013

Heard of the “Digital Age”? Some have referred to it as the third industrial revolution. If you’ve ever bought anything online or communicated with someone overseas using a digital device, you’ve actively participated somehow the high-tech, global economy. And of course, if you own a business at this point in time or plan to in the near future, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Thats a good thing. Because its extremely relevant to your business.

My Target Market Is Young People

Think of it this way: Mobile traffic currently makes up 10% of total global Internet traffic, and its growing.  Purchases via mobile devices in the U.S alone were $6.7 billion last year. If websites are no-brainers for businesses today, mobile- optimized sites are close to common practice. Companies with e-commerce sites especially are finding it crucial to be mobile-optimized for faster loading times, efficient customer transactions, etc…

Why is the digital age relevant? If you’re not sure, let me ask you a more familiar question. Who is your target market? U.C.L.A Neuroscientist, Gary Small, proposed a splendid little dichotomy in human cognitive science. “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants” (2008). According to Small, the difference between the two are found in the ways in which they have been conditioned to process information in the digital age.

Insight On The Generation Gap

The age of information that our generation holds so near and dear to our hearts is inhabited by two species of thinkers. Those of us who grew up in the digital age- who “use their superior cognitive abilities to make snap decisions and juggle multiple sources of sensory input” and the other side- “those who have witnessed the advent of modern technology long after their brains had been hardwired” (Interlandi, 2008). Digital natives are often referred to as the “tech savvy” but this title doesn’t fully indicate the cognitive processes of a digital native (those of us who have been exposed to stimuli such as the internet, ipods, and iphones since birth). Perhaps, a digital immigrant can learn to be “tech savvy” but its a much different term when referring to natives.

The digital native audience is truly unique in the way they interact with the internet. Have you ever seen your one-year old niece opening and closing the apps of her choosing on an ipad? I have. But perhaps what is more striking about this behavior is that she will grow up using the internet and devices like these throughout her daily life. From here we can get a since of the kind of behaviors associated with our digital natives today (roughly those who’ve yet to see there 21st birthday). Although, they didn’t have ipads in 95′, consumer households at this point had been introduced to the World Wide Web.

Lets Wrap it Up!

The significance in this binary is that it has important implications for marketers. The most efficient marketing tactics are developed specifically for businesses in the digital age. It begs the question: Your target market, are they digital native or digital immigrant? Consider two important demographic trends:  the exponential growth of populations ages 65+ and the rapid dissemination of technology within post-industrial contexts.

In 2011 persons age 65 and older commanded 13.1% of the total population. But if you divide the U.S population in terms of Dr. Small’s work you would technically get something like 25% digital native and 75% digital immigrant. These perceptions have enormous weight in terms of how you go about developing buyer persona’s and conducting your inbound marketing strategy. To marketing geeks/ digital natives (such as myself) out there, digital marketing 2.0 is a driving force in the digital age and not far from becoming common practice.

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