Digital marketing today is all about sex, politics and passion. But for one customer segment, it’s all about hooking up. For the other traditionally unhooked — they’re catching up. For marketers, the opportunity lies in both places.
The case for this opportunity is the subject of media and marketing guru Jack Myers’ new book, “Hooked Up: A New Generation’s Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Saving the World,” in which he states there is a new, more understated digital divide. Based on his research, Millennials are divided into three disparate groups. There are the older, more established Millennials and the younger, so-called Internet Natives who are redefining online behavior. Myers focuses on a newly identified subset of “Internet Pioneers,” who are a bridge generation and the first to cross the chasm between the pre- and post-Internet Ages. Myers claims they are poised to offer the first window into understanding future Internet-bred generations for marketers and all those with an interest in consumers of the future.
The role of these audiences in online marketing underscores the need for reaching affluent customers with different messaging in different environments. Today’s college students are the first to have been born and raised online. They don’t have qualms about sharing information. They’re using the Internet to be more connected and socially unified and to build a more stable future — stable economically, socially, politically and environmentally.
Marketers gain advantages for their brands when they have the insights on the uniquely differentiated purchase patterns and behavior of large groups of relevant consumers. The opportunity to be “hooked up” to this generation means messaging, creative and placements that focus on its aspirations. It’s a group that’s ambitious but realistic about goals, interested in social good and diversity, and they are working hard to achieve career and life goals. They are not as entitled as many brands believe. They’re having short-term relationships, not only with each other, but also with constantly changing tastes in music, entertainment and brand loyalty.
At the other end of the economic and age spectrum lies the older, more affluent customer segments. For the first time ever, this group has surpassed the younger generation in the amount of time spent online. It’s no coincidence that DR digital dollars were surpassed by brand dollars, as cited in the Vizu/Digiday study, which is due to the engagement shift of the affluent. The affluent are the most highly engaged Internet users, surpassing 30+ hours a week. What you can’t tell from stark numbers is how they have changed. If you’re 55, divorced, making $100,000 and looking for love, you’re not going to the singles bars. If you want to make your politics known, you aren’t going to occupy anything but your laptop. And if you want to be philanthropic, you need to do so online.
Both groups display passionate behaviors that they fulfill through online media, social destinations and apps. The “hooked up” spend time online because they are in the process of discovery, working hard to establish themselves. The affluent have already cemented themselves personally and professionally and now leverage an increasing amount of online time to organize their busy lives and save time. The affluent spend money to save time; the younger generation spend time online to save money.
Marketers need to understand that the older, more affluent audience is radically changing the way it consumes media and how it forms and maintains brand loyalties. These two subsets demand one common marketing strategy: focus on their passions. We need to target these customer groups by looking for the cheapest deal for your brand. We also need to identify where influential and affluent customers embrace their passions. That means passion is priceless where original and authentic content is critical. It means ad executions have a “wow” factor rather than a “what?” factor. It means online marketing addresses aspiration over past behaviors and attitudes, inspiring action.
Skip Brand is CEO of Martini Media, a digital media and content platform for audiences with the most money and influence online.
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