Online consumer and digital generations

The online consumer represents all social-economic classes and utilizes Internet more frequently than other media. They seek fun, relationship, and information, use search engines, takes part on social media and consumer articles, videos and information from social media as well, in particular, the ones generated or indicated by friends.

The profile of such online consumer varies from country to country, and my suggestion is that you look for one or more researches that show the Internet usage profile of digital technologies that interest your business in your country (or countries). A quick Google search is enough to find the necessary material. Crossing the data of the research with the profile of your company’s client, you will have a clear vision of your online consumer.

Maybe the most relevant factor to highlight here is the generation factor. Internet’s great leap started around the year 2000, most social networks kicked off in 2004, and YouTube comes to life in 2006. Knowing that we can split our consumers into three groups.

Digital Immigrants

The first one is composed of all people born before 1980, and we can call them digital immigrants. All the people in that group were over 23 years old when Facebook started. The youngest of that group already know and use the Internet, but they have discovered it as adults, and most of them have worked for part of their lives without using it regularly. The not so young ones have more difficulty in using it because they have learned about it after the start of their working life. This whole group was born and raised in a non-digital, unconnected world, where Internet appeared like a technological novelty whose functionality was being slowly discovered. This group of consumers defines itself by minor daily connectivity and a higher attachment to traditional media. It’s a group where one should elaborate more the mix between conventional and digital marketing. However, it is important to mention that in 2018, this group is composed of everyone older than 38 years old.

Digital Millennials

The second group is composed of people born between 1981 and 1996, people who were between eight and 23 years old when Facebook started. This group of people, let´s call them digital millennials, learned how to utilize the Internet on their daily lives from a very young age, and have a lot of ease with it. All of that group grew up in a world more and more connected, and their professional lives were developed with the Internet as the central tool. They characterize themselves by a preference for digital technologies and uninterrupted connectivity. It’s a group where conventional media plays a secondary part, and therefore they are heavily influenced by social media. It’s the group where the marketing mix is mostly digital. In 2018, this group is between 24 and 37 years old.

Digital Natives

The third group, born from 1997 on, was less than 7 years old when Facebook appeared, and less than 9 when YouTube came out. This generation, we will call digital natives, as born within the online world, with the Internet and mobile technology. They have studied, played and developed their hobbies through digital technologies. This is the generation that understands the world through connectivity, listening to music, watching series and reading books through the screen of a mobile phone or tablet. To this group, the Internet and all digital technologies are absolutely necessary, like the fridge or the TV to previous generations, something so inherent that it doesn’t require any further explanation for its use. This group of consumers defines themselves by the permanent connection, and the use almost exclusive of digital technologies in all their activities. They ignore entirely conventional media because it is unknown and unpractical. This is the group where the marketing mix is 99% digital, with maybe some additional promotion actions like beach happenings during the summer and maybe shopping center displays. This group is addicted to online shopping, and physical shops are merely a meeting point. In 2018, this group is younger than 23 years old.

Online Consumer’s Generations

To summarise, the table bellow shows, the online consumer can be divided in three groups: Digital Immigrants, where the marketing action must be balanced between conventional and digital media, Digital Millennials, with most digital marketing, and Digital Natives, where marketing is entirely digital, with the exception of a few complementary actions.

Save this picture of the online consumer in your mind while working on digital marketing planning. It is useful so you can notice the efficacy of the tools that you will use. All of them, with no exception, are directly related to the behavior and profile of the consumer.