A new generation

We’ve had an “alphabet generation” for a while now. After all, we have generation Y and generation X. But now Disney’s research has discovered a generation with a new letter in it: Generation XD.

These digitally aware kids born between 1995 and 2001 were discovered during a European study of tweens. These are the children that can’t recall a time without the internet and are completely au fait with technology.

I could ponder whether the generational term Disney has coined is really a big new discovery or just a nice way to PR a piece of research, but I think there’s something more important in this story to discuss.

Disney says this piece of research will now inform and influence marketing and communication as well as content creation strategy for this tween audience (8 – 12 year olds).

What this demonstrates is that a piece of research is right at the heart of a marketing and communications strategy at Disney. This hasn’t been commissioned to back up a bit of a hunch. Instead, the study will help Disney decide on what programmes to run on its entertainment channel. Nicole Morse, executive director of marketing at Disney Channels UK, says the research will also inform how it works with partners going forward.

The research findings are myth busting as well as informing strategy. Generation XD don’t see technology as a social replacement but as an enhancement to socialising. It’s reassuring to know that most children would prefer to meet up with friends rather than use their mobiles to text. Another myth buster is that most kids aspire to traditional job such as vets and doctors rather than thinking about becoming famous.

What this piece of research shows is that marketers can’t just assume they understand a particular age group. I’ve heard (and perhaps been a part of) conversations about the ‘youth of today’ replacing socialising with technology, or worried that young people will aspire to become a ‘famous’ reality tv show star.

Disney and its peers need continuous and indepth studies to keep up with their young audience and keep those grown-up assumptions at bay. Because when we grow up, we have a tendency to forget what it’s like being a child and find it hard to understand the lives of a new generation.

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