December 22, 2008

Multichannel Generational Behavior

Pay attention to this image of CNBC financial hosts Mark Haines and Erin Burnett.

Mark, age 62, has his newspaper in front of him, a paper loaded with information to help him get through the show. You can tell him that newspapers are dying, and it doesn't matter, this is how he consumes information.

Erin, age 32, has a laptop in front of her. You''ll see her Googling topics, or checking the hurdle on a free shipping offer at Macys while speaking to the audience.

As marketers, we repeatedly fail when trying to talk to these two individuals. Mark is probably not going to set up a Twitter account. His generation is the person we speak to when we mail catalogs. Erin uses search as a psuedo-administrative-assistant, in real-time.

Worse, our industry hawks the standard "Multichannel Customers Are The Best Customers" line. We encourage people to read the paper and consume information online. We homogenize the overall user experience by trying to make the look and feel of each medium appear the same --- instead of capitalizing on the unique differences between channels, we try to force people into doing things the way we want for them to do things, causing both channels to fail.

In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words.