Marketing’s Moving Target: the iGen

It used to be that, if you wanted to advertise to the kids, you made a commercial for Saturday morning TV, slapped your ad on a cereal box or­—if you were really smart—got a product placement deal with Sesame Street. With the popularity of iPads, smartphones and laptops, however, even our youngest generation has become a moving target for advertisers.

A recent AdAge story revealed that 33% of Millenial moms had let their child use their smartphone by age two; 34% had allowed their child to use their laptop. Not only is this a really good way to get jelly or peanut butter all over your new gadget, but it’s baffling advertising agencies.

Gen X is noted for quickly adapting to changing technologies ; Gen Y came of age as the iPod did. But this new “iGen” was practically texting in the womb.  When the toddlers are supposed to be learning their ABCs, they are actually learning how to use facetime on their mom’s iPhone. So how do you market to a generation breaking all the rules?

With the changing technologies come new ways to reach out to the future first graders of America. They might be using their mom’s iPhone to check up on “The Wiggles”, but apps can also be designed specifically for their needs. No more building blocks and train sets ­– this is the era of learning through apps and the Internet.

This new iGen can hardly walk or talk, so luckily marketers have a while to figure out their strategy as they eventually did with Gen Y. It’s just going to take some out-of-the-giant-cow-patterned-computer-box thinking.