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Listen to My 11-Year-Old Wireless Son

Christina Nathanson |

Saturday morning’s cartoons were a staple in my household back in the ’70s. This was the only opportunity to show my parents what I wanted for Christmas or for my birthday without actually leaving the house.  I’d yell from the living room, “Mom!  Dad!  Come in here.  That’s the Barbie Townhouse my friend Elizabeth has…see…it has an elevator that goes up and down with a string….”   I would sit five feet away from the TV because I wanted to be “front and center” when the commercials came on.  Fast forward to 2013.

I have an 11 year old son, Joe.  He’s only known of a world with an iTouch, tablets, laptops, touch screens and high-speed wireless internet.   No wires.  No analog.  He’s connected all the time.   Even the youngest are using these devices, with a toddler attempting to treat magazines like an iPad and TVs like touch screens. It’s estimated that kids aged eight to 12 spend $30 billion of their own money annually and influence another $150 billion of their parents’ spending.

I eventually got that Barbie Townhouse, but before that it took several months (and a lot of Saturday morning TV) before my parents took me to a store to buy it for me.

With 41 percent of kids six to 12 putting Apple’s iPad at the top of their Christmas lists this past season, per Nielsen, this next generation, born late 1990’s to 2010—iGen or Gen Z—are the first true mobile mavens and future brand influencers.

How do we reach this future shopper, who is exposed to so many brand choices, and can be picky?  One way is to understand his media consumption behavior.

GenZers are not readily impressed with traditional marketing tactics; they are easily distracted.   They are the first generation to consume more media online than offline.   They are both a marketer’s dream (trust) and nightmare (multitask).

According to Forrester Research, 84 percent of Gen Zers multitask with an Internet connected device while watching TV.   They’re visiting social network sites, surfing the Web, and maybe doing their homework.    How do brands expect to find, win, and keep their attention and loyalty?

Brands need to offer up information in bite-size pieces as the need for constant and integrated information expands.

Back to Joe.   His comment to me on this article, “Mom, let them entertain me.  Please don’t persuade me.”  Perhaps listening to an 11 year old makes sense…this time.

Topics: Economic Outlook, Mobile

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