Doug Garnett’s Blog


What Parts of Internet TV will Twenty-Something’s Still Want When They’re 35?

All too often, marketers miss the fundamental humanity of people who buy their products. And technology marketing’s focus on 20-something’s is one key place where companies forget about human nature.

Here is a human truth: I once read a book where a 20-something character walks downhill and meets his father who is walking uphill. The author notes that these positions reflect life. While 20-something’s typically feel a tremendous angst about the stress in their lives, the truth is that the demands of life becomes dramatically more complex as we grow into our 30′s and beyond – as we layer on careers, children, marriages, and communities. (Fortunately we also grow in our ability to handle that complexity.)

In forgetting about this reality, tech marketers also forget that every generation says it’s different. My generation did. So did the generation before us and the one after. But looking back, for a marketer’s perspective, we ended up looking pretty much just like every other generation.

How should this affect tech marketers? Consider tech industry hype about so-called “twenty-something’s”. This hype suggests they are entirely different generation – transcending the fundamental needs of today’s generations over 30. Some go so far as to imply that 20-somethings are an evolutionary recreation of the human race beyond all past needs and wants. Bullocks.

Consider text messaging. Studies show 20-somethings text far more than they email or make phone calls. And so, some prognosticators claim email will die. But while the studies are accurate, the conclusions are bunk. The university students I teach rely heavily on text because their lives are more mobile and transient because of their age. Hence, text is the most effective communication. As they age, they shift to email because life becomes more tied down, they have better access to email, and their career success demands it.

Consider also Internet TV. A 21 year old may have the energy required to search YouTube for hours on end to find one unusual video. But most 41 year old’s would rather just sit back and watch a well produced, interesting show where they already know the characters (e.g. pretty much what we have on cable today) because they want their TV time to deliver relaxation and escape. And they’d rather choose those from a set of channels they know – because those channels reliably produce similar quality programming on similar topics.

I don’t hear this reality recognized by Internet TV advocates. For example, much of GoogleTV hype seems predicated on the idea of abandoning cable in order to recreate our cable experience online. How? By searching around the internet to find things from which to create our personalized entertainment world. (Sort of like we’re all network executives without the golden parachutes.) Riiiiiiggghhhht.

After a 10 hour workday, your son’s baseball game, homework, dinner, and getting the kids to bed, you want to do the very hard and frustrating work of searching the internet. Not likely – even if Google’s gone fully creepy on us and inhabited our very souls to perfectly suggest what we want to watch.

So, when they’re 35, will today’s 20-something’s still want whatever internet TV turns out to be? Of course they’ll want the effective parts. But it’s not humanly effective to spend hours searching YouTube’s 120,000 new hours of programming each week. My prediction is that they will mostly want… well… a small evolution of exactly what they get today from cable with a good DVR and some type of on-demand access to movies (streaming, downloading, on-demand,…).

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

Categories:   Big Data and Technology, Communication, Consumer Electronics, consumer goods, consumer marketing, Digital/On-line, Human Tech, internet convergence, marketing, Marketing Research, Technology Advertising, technology marketing, TV & Video, tv convergence


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