The Net Generation and Marketing

picture-4Don Tapscott has long been a favourite writer of mine on the digital world. He’s a writer and a researcher who “gets it”. He recently gave a presentation to the Institute of Digital Marketing in London giving and overview of the Net Generation and how to attract them to work for you or buy from you. (The video is more than 30 minutes long, but it’s well worth viewing.)

He argues that the Net Generation are not the dumbest generation (as Mark Bauerlein posits in his book The Dumbest Generation). As evidence he offers increasing SAT scores, IQ raw scores and the example of a 15 year old who had become a guild leader in “World of Warcraft“. World of Warcraft is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, currently the largest in the world. A guild leader has around 40 followers and leads them on missions. The 15 year old guild leader listed his priorities as a guild leader and spoke about strategy, execution, project management, marketing and HR. He cited getting and keeping talent as his biggest challenge.

So it seems Net Gen aren’t so dumb – in fact they’re getting smarter.

In terms of attracting the talent of the Net Generation to work with us he reminds us that they have different priorities;

  1. meaningful work
  2. learning
  3. fun
  4. money

Here I have a small issue, I might have given the same at the age of 20 when I entered the work force after graduation. In fact, I would probably give the same list now. Assuming that the the money is going to be just reward for my skills and will cover my mortgage. I agree that these are the priorities of Net Gen – I’m just not convinced that it’s a big change. And I’m curious to see how the economic crisis will affect the reality of choices made by Net Gen members.

He also points out that recruiting and retaining talent has shifted, with talented Net Gen members moving in and out of the workforce more fluidly and companies based on knowledge workers taking an “alumni” approach to re-engage them when they’re ready to return to work. The key to successful attracting talent for companies will be developing a mindset of mobile human capital, maximising learning opportunities but accepting that talent will move, but can still support and build on your company’s goals and reputation from outside the company.

picture-51In terms of marketing, he transforms the four P’s Product becomes Consumer Experience, Place becomes Anywhere and so on, and one is added; Brand. But brand with more complexity than it’s been allowed before moving from a visual concept to an experience to a relationship. I agree – and this shift might be true for more than just Net Gen members.

He’s a good speaker, with lots of good insights and while none of it would be earthshattering to someone who’s been paying attention it’s well thought out and supported by solid examples. I almost want to buy the book.

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