To some extent, marketers are constantly dealing with the future. We gamble with trends and positioning, we make estimates, projections and create budgets. We plan and strategize around our products, services and brands … and segment, slice and dice the demographic data that represent our audiences.
But things are changing… because the world is changing. But also because our audiences are.
This video is another in the series produced by Michael Wesch at the Kansas State University. It is four minutes long and provides an insight into the lifestyles, aspirations and realities of today’s students … the very same students who inhabit (or very soon will) the lucrative demographic groups that marketers and advertisers crave. The video starts with the following quote:
“Today’s child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules.” — Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage, 1967.
But as the video goes on to show, the order, structure and scheduling imposed by the educational environment (that still exists) has been entirely subverted by the behaviors and actions of the restless participants in these classes. What is clear is that this “audience” is fundamentally different to all that have come before. It is participative. Active. Engaged. And more networked than Google.
The seismic shift that is occuring here shows that “value” and even some forms of “education” are found not within the walls of the institution but elsewhere. And interestingly, one of the underlying themes of the video is “relevance” … with the students making it abundantly clear that they will seek out relevance — ignoring or discounting other forms of value (whether it is educative or even financial).
So what does this have to do with marketing? With brands?
Perhaps nothing … if you don’t want to stay in business. But the future is going to be a very different place … take a look again … the writing’s on the wall.