Hanalei: a real Digital Native on the iPad

Image by Wayan Vota via Flickr


The following is a fictional little scenario I penned for Understanding Digital Marketing highlighting how the next generation of consumers (or perhaps the current generation, at this stage) are integrating technology into every facet of their lives.

It’s 7am. Janet wakes up to the sound of her iPod, sitting in its cradle across the room, playing a random song from an album she set to download overnight. As she gets out of bed her mobile trills… a text has arrived from her college friend Simon. It’s about last night’s party.

Janet stabs at the mobile keypad with one hand, deftly firing off a reply, while her other hand opens up her laptop, logs her on to her various social networking accounts and fires up her e-mail. A cursory glance at the mini-feeds on her social network sites shows her that there’s nothing major going on amongst her circle of friends, so she quickly checks her e-mail while simultaneously opening up her feed-reader and scanning what’s new from her favourite news sites, blogs and other locations around the web. In the background her iPod picks another song at random from her music collection and continues to play.

As the twenty or so messages sent to her overnight jostle for space in her e-mail inbox, Janet’s mobile trills again – it’s Simon, replying to her message and arranging to meet her before lectures start. She checks the clock widget on her desktop sidebar and fires off a quick confirmation – she’ll meet him outside the library in an hour-and-a-half. A quick scan of her incoming mail reveals most of it to be spam that’s slipped through the net, but one from her friend, Amy, catches her eye. She reads it, and is about to reply when she notices that Amy is signed in to her IM account, she sends her an instant message instead.

They chat for a few minutes… mainly about last night’s party and what to do after college today. Janet checks the weather in another sidebar widget – there’s rain forecast for later. They agree on the cinema. A quick visit to the theatre’s website reveals what’s on, they check out some online peer-reviews to see what’s hot, agree on a show, and pre-book the tickets. Job done. Janet glances at the clock… it’s 7:15am, time for a shower, then breakfast.

Welcome to the world of the digital native – a hyper-connected, high-octane world of instant access and gratification with digital technology at its core. To young people today these aren’t merely digital tools, they are essential, seamlessly integrated elements of their daily lives. These are digital consumers, the net-generation, generation Y… call them what you will. They are insistent, impatient, demanding, multi-tasking information junkies. They are the mass market of tomorrow – and, as marketers, it’s absolutely imperative that we learn to speak their language today.

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