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Marketing and the Generation Gap

I have this theory that at some point in everyone's life their focus flips from consumption to production. By this I am talking about how a person views the him or herself and the world around them. As this flip generally corresponds with age, perhaps it is a maturity issue.

Regardless though, typically when someone is younger they tend to identify themselves by what they consume. He's a Deadhead, she's a Raider fan, he's really into French movies, she's into Thai cuisine, everyone is wearing that brand of sneakers, etc. Effective marketers cater to this and make sure that everyone at that age knows that if they eat/ drink/ listen/ wear/ watch/ etc. [insert cool new product] they'll be cool.

But at some point in life it flips. You know longer view yourself by what you consume, but rather what you produce. You're the sales manager, the truck driver, the Perl developer, mother, father, doctor, lawyer, whatever. Obviously, you still enjoy consuming, but it stops defining you. What you are producing becomes your focus of both yourself and the world around you. (BTW, I think that this phenomenon (a) is completely natural; (b) it is completely healthy; and (c) those who don't make this life "flip" tend to be unfulfilled.)

In many respects this is the source of the generation gap. On one side you have a group of folks who are focused on consumption and the other a group focused on production. As noted above, effective marketers bridge that gap. Figuring out how to do that is the trick. Seven years ago, no one thought about SEO. Today there is a whole industry built around it. Rich is our resident (and probably the industry's) SEO expert - he started getting recruiters calling him for VP of SEO jobs about 3 years ago. Marketer's go to where the action is. If Google is where it is, that's where they want to be.

But what if MySpace is where the action is? Because that is where the true "consumers" are. The ones noted above who tend to build their lifestyles around the things they consume. What's the formula for reaching people there? Is there a burgeoning cottage industry around social network optimization? Stephen is looking into ways to reach the MySpace audience for Topix. We get tons of traffic from Google, but really none from MySpace. Seems like there should be something there for us. But whose the resident expert there?

Perhaps we need to open a req for a 22 year old Director of Social Networking Optimization.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 19, 2007 10:57 AM.

The previous post in this blog was The Generation Gap.

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