Digital natives
Digital natives

Above the Forms: Going (Digital) Native: Finding Your Future Customers

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Lez Digital natives  IRL.

Need a little translation? That’s “Let’s talk about digital natives, and how we can best prepare for them as future employees and customers, with a specific focus on tweens and teens.” SRSLY. (That’s “seriously.”)

What is a digital native, and why do they matter? Let’s start with some stats:

  • Digital natives are the largest generation we have, overtaking the baby boomers.
  • They were born between 1998 and today.
  • They make up 25 percent of our population.
  • They have never existed without constant connection.
  • They learn, flirt and hang out – all on screens.

This is the new norm.

How can you offer tax preparation or financial products and services that meet their needs? How can you create meaningful moments to keep them engaged and productive at work? This is a special population with unique needs. Yet, the need for human connection has not changed. At Intuit®, we have learned that technology has enabled connections in radical new ways. Here are four strategies we’ve learned to serve the digital native that may help you work for, and with, the digital native in your practice:

Mind the Gap

Mind the gap – the generation gap, that is – by realizing our differences and remembering we’re not 14 years old ourselves; sometimes, we forget.

How will this generation be different? Check out these fast facts:

  • They are constantly connected, born with technology in their hand.
  • They consume an average of nine hours of screen time per day – YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and more. Socializing with friends now happens more virtually than physically. This is the first generation with this behavior.
  • They expect instant answers without tactical tasks to perform. The average task on these platforms takes two to three seconds. The average attention span is now at eight seconds, one second below a goldfish.
  • More than 30 percent of tweens use Snapchat, allowing for self-expression without getting “burned,“ unlike Facebook.
  • This is a non-conforming generation that is more culturally blended globally. A seven-year-old child in Texas has more in common with a seven-year-old child in Bangalore through their connection with technology.
  • And, finally … they trust technology implicitly. They assume it is the norm.

Observe and Learn

Talk to, and observe, them through research, co-creation and other non-creepy observations: maybe offer to take a friend’s kids out to lunch or babysit. Intuit talked to tweens and teens, and here is what they had to say:

  • “Facebook is for my mom, aunts and grandma.”
  • “I use my phone for everything.”
  • “My mom wants me to go outside and get more fresh air.”
  • “I really can’t imagine a world without technology.
  • “What worries me about technology is cyberbullying.”
  • “Before I’ve met someone, I’ve checked out their Instagram, seen how they look and how they interact with others. Without that, I don’t know how I’d see people or get to know them.”

Walk in Their Shoes

Walk in their shoes by using the tools and experiencing the world through their eyes, whether you SNAP it, GRAM it or TUBE it – that’s SnapChat it, post it on Instagram or post it on YouTube. A big part of how this generation communicates is visual, through video or instant messaging, and other short form communications. That means product and service providers have to adapt to how people communicate today and in the future.

Did you know digital natives shift their attention between inputs 27 times per hour? Not just apps, but they are also watching television, reading magazines and Facetiming – sometimes all at once. What does this mean? They are taking in a lot of content at a high level. This key insight means they are completely different than your current customers and employees in behavior and expectations.

Digital natives invite constant affirmation. On average, a digital native takes 30 selfies before deciding which one to post. One of the comments we heard from our teens and tweens was, “If a picture doesn’t get any likes, then I don’t like it.” Our takeaway here is that this is an extremely sensitive and addictive dynamic that has negative side effects, including increased anxiety and depression. Knowing that, how can your experiences accommodate the need for affirmation in responsible and positive ways?

Fear of missing out, known as FOMO, increases the amount of anxiety that digital natives have. Teenagers check their phone 150 time a day for messaging, notifications and to see where their friends are. How can you provide the kinds of experiences that inspire self-confidence?

Start ‘em Young

What’s the best way to engage digital natives as employees? This generation is filled with “makers” at heart. This is a generation that grew up with technology at their fingertips, a constant flow of information and tools with access to all the answers. This is a generation that is extremely entrepreneurial and creative. Embrace them. It’s so inspiring to see their potential and how purpose-driven they are. When Intuit thinks about being design inspired, technology powered and customer obsessed, finding future customers who are digital natives is a natural outcome.

The trends we are spotting now, and expecting five to 10 years from now, are providing new opportunities for more money, no work and complete confidence for your clients, with respect to their tax returns. At Intuit, we are working on your behalf to help shape these opportunities to power prosperity around the world, as we move into this new era for accountants and tax professionals. The future is closer than you think.

Now, B2W – that’s “back to work” for you non-natives.


Editor’s note: Read more from CeCe Morken, executive vice president and general manager of Intuit® ProConnect™, in her “Above the Forms” series.

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