Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – Are You Ready For The Screenagers?

Hunky Dory (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By Jamie Anderson, Director, Global Solution Marketing, Web Channel & eCommerce Solutions, SAP

David Bowie’s homage to the nature of artistic re-invention (personified throughout the 70s by his ever changing on-stage personas and musical experimentation) and a staple of my own period of disaffected adolescence, Changes (from 1971’s Hunky Dory) is a track that I often return to for inspiration.

I adored Bowie for breaking all kinds of barriers; musically, visually, and sexually. A pioneer to this day, Bowie represents and articulates the importance of remaining open to change. ‘Change’ itself is something that remains ever topical in our enterprise world, and something which generates as much fear as it does excitement.

So the days float through my eyes, But still the days seem the same…

Indeed, it was 15th Century Italian philosopher, humanist, and writer Niccolo Machiavelli who first observed “…there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order…”

But what if the new order has already been established, except not by you, but by your customers? In such a case surely you can no longer afford yourself the solace of fear, or to hide behind the organisational barriers of process & inertia. If the whole world is changing around you, yet the change you require to not only succeed but survive is resisted by the guardians of the status quo then it’s time to strike a blow for the revolution.

And these children that you spit on, As they try to change their worlds…

In this modern, digital world the consumer-led revolution has begun. I only have to look around at my children to see this change unfolding. It may seem twee to some but the way in which our children, our next generation of consumers are adopting the latest technologies (and by adoption, shaping their expectations on future ‘customer’ experience) is frightening.

My digitally native children have still to become teenagers, but all three of them are already what I would call ‘Screenagers’. I sometimes joke that the screen is their reality whilst myself, my wife, and the greater world around them is merely virtual. It certainly seems that way at times – if you want their attention don’t shout – you just get filtered out along with the rest of the noise – send them a Tweet! In Bowies words they are blissfully “immune to your(my) consultations”, much to my chagrin.

Strange Fascination Me, Fascinating Me

But it’s not just a single screen environment they operate in, there is virtually a screen everywhere they go now – whether it’s school, a dentist waiting room, an airport, a bus station – the list quickly becomes endless. However, it is their ability to interact with multi-screen environments that I find strangely fascinating, something which is underlined in this research piece by Deloitte who claim that more than half of the 16-24 age group sampled regularly use a second screen device to interact with friends online whilst watching television.

Further research by eConsultancy highlights the impact that multi-screening actually has on a Brand’s ability to get attention through all of this noise, and what it takes to ensure that its messages (much like mine to my children) don’t end up being filtered out by their intended audience.

Multi-screen / Multi-device environments are driving the ever increasing fragmentation of marketing content, but, when you think about it, it does also generate an opportunity for those businesses able (and willing) to make the change to meet the needs of this rapidly evolving digital world.

Read the reports, Multi-screeners are not the future, they are the present. The opportunity will therefore live in your ability to push complimentary, location-based content to the multi-screeners device based on its proximity to the viewing (or even buying) experience, and to hold their interest in the main content being pushed.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

In our new digital, multi-screen world we seem to spend an endless amount of time talking about content so it’s probably useful to offer a small word of caution. Content is extremely important BUT it’s actually about the overall Experience.

What is it about my children’s experiences with digital devices that keeps them coming back time and time again? Yes, the content of the apps or games is engaging but from an experiential perspective they are also intuitive and relevant to their needs and, in the case of my eldest, they enable him to seamlessly switch between devices to carry on the experience.

As the eConsultancy report notes, Brands that can adapt to these Ch-Ch-Changes will “have an edge in understanding how to introduce their messaging to multi-screen consumers regardless of the evolution of their devices, behaviors and interests.” and so therefore, like Bowie himself, may find that their own longevity lies in continual innovation.