Digital natives cannot be defined by age, a new survey by Kantar Media’s TGI Clickstream proves

The statement that the age group of 15-24 years old are «digital natives» has been questioned by the recent in-depth consumer study by the UK Kantar Media’s research division TGI Clickstream. Anne Benois, Director of Insights and Integration, proves that age cannot be regarded a crucial factor of digital behaviour, but a mix of cultural and economic experience is what defines our digital «fluency.»

Who are «Digital Natives»

This term was first coined in 2001 and is often referred to a generation exposed to digital technology from early age. More specifically, marketers describe digital natives as those who:

  • don’t read but scan
  • don’t write but text or tweet
  • use less text, more pictures and graphics
  • prefer entertainment to hard work
  • are not «cool» but «fresh»

Digital Natives vs group with «high Social DNA»

The results of the research show that UK adults of 35-44 years old participate in different digital activities online and offline no less than those of age 15-24. While both groups report that 30% of them have ever paid for an app to download, the older group are 65% more frequent buyers of products and services online (on average) than the younger one. Subsequently, age can not be regarded as a defining factor of digital behaviour. Instead, the mix of economic and cultural knowledge and experience can better predict if a person is «native» in digital. That’s why the TGI Clickstream analysts unite adults of 35-64 years old in one group called «Social DNA»—these people possess sufficient knowledge and experience about digital that compensates millenials’ «early exposure» to digital technology.

Anne Benoist, Director, TGI Insights and Integration, Kantar Media, comments: «It is crucial that marketers recognise that the truly valuable digital consumers are not simply young adults, or they are likely to see little return on their targeting efforts. To truly identify and leverage those consumers who are most engaged with digital and particularly lucrative in a digital environment, it is necessary to get away from notions of age and instead consider the key drivers dictating how consumers make decisions.»