OK Google, Boomer – the Silver Generation makes its debut “onlife”

Advertising, Branding

The third appointment with this column (here the first and second) comes in the middle of a summer, that of 2020, which is shaping up anomalous (because there are so many limitations that still drive our lives, because for many will be short-haul holidays and for many others the holidays will be in the city) and at the same time normal, after the exceptional period of lockdown that we experienced this year without spring.

A normality that precisely because after an experience as all-encompassing as that experienced a few months ago many define new normal. A revised and up-to-date normality that brings with it and institutionalizes the new habits acquired during quarantine.

If in the first two appointments we talked about brands in short, today we will talk about target. Or to put it a little more modern, people. I mean, us.

The coronavirus has messed up everyone’s cards – it has postponed weddings, it has cancelled trips, it has literally suspended our lives, locking us within the home 24 hours a day.

This has generated several reactions so personal and at the same time so universal: many have rediscovered the passion for cooking and our feeds have been literally flooded with friends intent on preparing pizzas and sweets. It made us discover the attention to owr own body, with years-old fitness and yoga videos on YouTube that suddenly returned to trend. It has increased our internet consumption exponentially more than anything else.

In Italy, network traffic during lockdown increased by an average of 30%, with peaks of 70%. And a new generation that until now had approached laptops, smartphones and such with reluctance has finally entered the era of the World Wide Web, completing the process of digital transformation that has been talked about for years.

We’re talking about the Boomers, who during the lockdown discovered Skype, Google Meet, Zoom to communicate with the family. Who shopped at the supermarket under the house ordering groceries on the chain’s website. That to make informed choices decided for the first time to listen to an in-depth podcast.

Why is it important to take into account this new target segment that before today could be intercepted with more traditional media (print and TV on all)? Because we’re talking about the richest generation in history and consequently the highest-spending. Because a mature target has new needs and approaches the customer journey with new paths compared to the kings of the web: Millenials and Gen Z. Because there are new challenges on the user experience and interface design side.

Because in the very short term the web will be an effective counterpart to the physical world and not its version purged by the older generations. The philosopher Luciano Floridi proposes a neologism that defines this situation: tomorrow’s society will be at 100 onlife – but what does onlife mean? Floridi’s neologism describes a new existence in which the barrier between real and virtual has fallen and there is no longer a difference between “online” and “offline”. A new hybrid society between real and digital that brands must also take into account.

We are immersed in a hybrid world where technology supports us, influences, modifies and, mutually, is used and abused, modified and managed. It is an exchange between the artificiality of technology and the biological capacities typical of the human being, an exchange that has become perfect fusion.

Luciano Floridi

Douglas Adams, the writer who showed us the meaning of life, the Universe and everything (42), had also envisioned the relationship between society and technological development. We remember “The Three Fundamental Laws of the Perception of Progress” drawn from the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (it’s not a book about brand strategy or communication, but reading tips can get lighter in late July – and especially Adams’s trilogy describes Earthlings and their behaviors well). Adams describes people’s reactions to technology in this way:

1. Everything in the world at your birth is taken for granted.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

The crisis (understood as a violent change of habits) generated by the pandemic, now we can affirm it with serenity, has not produced any completely new habit. However, it accelerated a number of trends that were already present in society. The few months of lockdown have sped up, completing them, processes that Adams prophesied in a decade.

This crisis, in short, like every crisis, has shown us the dangers inherent in our way of life but also many new opportunities – quarantine has suspended our lives with the effect of accelerating our new habits – shaping a society ready for a new normal.