Archive for December, 2009

Time to celebrate. Tonight’s not only the eve of the first millennium decade, it’s also the night where the last of Generation Z will be born.

Generation Z covers babies born between 1995 and 2009 and so tomorrow will belong to another, yet to be defined, generation. Generations are like decades. They’re extremely hard to define while you’re in the middle of them. Sometimes it even takes an additional decade to recognize unique trends and characteristics – usually when people make the first moves towards distancing themselves from the fashions of a decade. The eighties, for instance, were highly scorned throughout the nineties; people had bad taste parties and referred to the ghastly eighties.

Australia is a country having put a lot of effort into researching and trying to define Generation Z and the general consensus from down under is that they’re demanding and opinionated – they’re like Generation Y on steroids. As a father of 3 Generation Z girls I would tend to agree :-)

What I want to know from you is this: What do you think defines Generation Z? What are their strengths? Where will they be challenged? How do they consume? How do they communicate? How will they work? What do they expect from life?

I plan series of blog posts on Generation Z in the coming year. I invite you to join in!

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I just discovered a great little iPhone app called Redlaser. It scans barcodes and in a split second it returns a long list of online price comparisons, a bit like Pricerunner, only this brings online price comparisons into the offline world.

I spotted Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the bookstore at Dublin Airport at the ”special price of €13.99” and decided to give it a quick try. A Redlaser scan of the barcode revealed that Douglas Adams’ classic could be purchased online at biblio.com for $9.98 (€6.70). Now – that’s less than half price. Would I buy that book from Hughes & Hughes at Dublin Airport given that information at hand? Definitely not.

The app is very simple, but obviously leverages a powerful search engine (TheFind), which hooks up with a rapidly growing number of online shops and its ramifications are astounding. It will put far more pressure on retailers to coordinate online and offline offerings minutely and realtime to ensure that customers don’t abandon their shop purchase in favour of buying it online (which I would have done in my example).

I’ll be following this little red devil closely to see how and to what extent it might change customer retail behaviour in 2010 – and, oh, I’ll be sure to develop some cool strategies for retailers to not only cope with this new “thing”, but also take seriously advantage of it.

Reading a great little book over the Christmas holidays, Listen to the Elephants (Lyt til elefanterne), by Anna Ebbesen and Astrid Haug. It’s about practical digital communications and how it all changed when it moved from analogue to digital. It’s full of fantastic examples (still only in Danish, but hopefully these two sharps girls will be translated soon).

Listen to the Elephants obviously refers to listening to your customers, or rather users, because users are someone who knows all about your products (sometimes perhaps more than you do); someone you’d like to chat with if you are truly interested in understanding your market situation and what you should be doing to make more happy users – and, well, yeah, make more money.

To the point: Here’s a voice of some of your hardcore users, Lundby (legendary Swedish dolls houses)! My two eldest daughters, both Generation Z, aged 9 and almost 11, got accessories from Lundby for Christmas to supplement their elaborate and ever-growing mini mansions at home. One of them also got a cool little Polly Pocket set and since we’re spending Christmas with my in-laws in Ireland, the two entrepreneurial girls quickly mixed and matched the two collections, because Polly Pocket happens to be roughly the size of a Lundby doll, about 10 cm tall.

When I pointed out the mix and match they simply said, “That’s what we do at home too“, and as their father I need to apologise for the language, “the Lundby dolls are really crap, especially the hair”.

Now that’s a fact I’d like to know about if I was the Lundby boss, but www.lundby.com is not exactly the kind of website that encourages dialogue or new ideas or feedback. As a first-hand student of Generation Z (and Generation Y) I know that they love to comment, to be heard, to be involved. So why doesn’t Lundby have a way to involve their users? I’d say girls between 6 and 13.

So, on behalf of my daughters: Lundby, listen to your users and do something about those dolls. Oh, and check out some of the cool web 2.0 ways of involving your users. They’d love it – and so would you.