Originally published in ?☠️ Category Pirates: It’s not a weekly newsletter. It’s a weekly mini-book.
Lately, there has been a fundamental, dare I say, seminal change in the category design of human beings. That is to say, the definition of what a human is has changed. You see, if you’re 35 and up, you are the last of a dying breed called Native Analogs. If you’re 35 or younger, you are the first generation of Native Digitals.
Native Digital’s experience life in a digital first way, and an analog way, second. Native Digitals have come of age integrated with the machines. Your smartphone and technology overall is like part of who you are as a person.
Most Native Analogs do not get this. Most people are not ready for the fact that everything is moving from an analog paradigm to a native digital world. So in this two-part series of Follow Your Different, we explore Native Digitals versus Native Analogs, and how it is important to realize that we are shifting to a digital paradigm faster than you think.
First off, we start as to why it is important to recognize category shifts like the one we are experiencing now. Most category kings and queens tend to fall into a trap, in which they ignore new categories that may be adjacent or indirectly related to theirs.
When a new category arises (seemingly out of nowhere), the incumbent doesn’t topple over because they were unaware of the new category queen. More often than not, they fall because they dismissed what was happening right before their very eyes.
It’s not ignorance. It is arrogance coupled with the gravitational pull of “the way it is.” Because the people profiting in the present want things to stay the same.
This is called Category Neglect. Category Neglect doesn’t come from people being stupid or lacking sufficient data and resources to spot the headwinds and tailwinds of the future. It comes from a refusal to acknowledge which direction the wind is really blowing.
Why do they fall to such a seemingly obvious trap? This happens because the gravitational pull is too strong. A company gets used to earning hundreds of millions, or billions of dollars per year, and thinks it can do no wrong.
The company becomes deeply invested in the present. Anything that threatens the way it is now is dismissed.
Native Analogs vs Native Digitals
One of the most profound shifts happening in the world today is rooted in the ever-escalating debate between generations young and old. It is a shift hiding in plain sight. Just like the Tymshare executives staring out the window at Apple’s cranes building the headquarters of the company that would ultimately put them out of business, most people over 35 years old can’t see this shift happening.
Instead, they say to themselves, “Eh, we’ve got nothing to worry about.”
As Category Pirates, we feel it is our obligation to sound the alarm when we see rocky shores ahead. Some of us are facing a once-in-a-generation set of headwinds that could not just stymie growth, but sink our entire ship. If those of us over age 35 aren’t careful, this divide could result in one of the greatest instances of Category Neglect.
However, those who see this mega shift and act on it, on the other hand, will sail into the sunset a lot of happy pirates, make more money, and make a way bigger difference in the world.
With that said, let’s first give a better definition of what a Native Analog and Native Digital are. We’ll also define where their biggest difference lies.
There are two types of people on planet earth today.
- The first are Native Analogs. These are Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, born anywhere from the 1940s all the way up to the early ‘80s. Today, they range between the ages of 40 to 75, and make up approximately 136.8 million Americans.
- The second are Native Digitals. These are Millennials and Gen Zers, born between the early 1980s to as recently as the 2010s. These demographics are around 35 years of age on the high end, down to as young as 6 years old. They make up approximately 140.1 million Americans.
Native analogs grew up in a time where technology was an addition or a distraction from their real lives.
Native digitals grew up in a time where their “real” lives were a distraction from their digital lives.
This is a profound shift—and no one seems to be talking about it. Even more stunning, some of the largest native digital brands on the planet are run by Native Analogs. Who don’t get it either.
To learn why it is important to know more about Native Digitals and how it can affect your category and businesses, download and listen to this episode. You can also check it out at Category Pirates.
Christopher Lochhead is a #1 Apple podcaster and #1 Amazon bestselling co-author of books: Niche Down and Play Bigger.
He has been an advisor to over 50 venture-backed startups; a former three-time Silicon Valley public company CMO and an entrepreneur.
Furthermore, he has been called “one of the best minds in marketing” by The Marketing Journal, a “Human Exclamation Point” by Fast Company, a “quasar” by NBA legend Bill Walton and “off-putting to some” by The Economist.
In addition, he served as a chief marketing officer of software juggernaut Mercury Interactive. Hewlett-Packard acquired the company in 2006, for $4.5 billion.
He also co-founded the marketing consulting firm LOCHHEAD; the founding CMO of Internet consulting firm Scient, and served as head of marketing at the CRM software firm Vantive.