NRF 15 : digital lessons for retail from sporting super-user teens

Profile picture for user cmiddleton By Chris Middleton January 11, 2015
Fox News anchor-turned-child health advocate Alixis Glick expounds on lessons learned from working with a super-user generation of digital natives.

Digital means: stand for something or fail.

Alexis Glick

Alexis Glick is a former Wall Street analyst turned TV anchor and Director of Business News for the Fox News Channel.

But five years ago she got out of journalism and finance and focused her skills on her twin passions: sports and youth education.

Today, she is CEO of non-profit organisation GENYouth, which encourages child health and fitness through sport.

One of the ways in which her organisation reaches out to her community of users – who are primarily digital-native teens and millennial schoolkids – is via understanding the power of social networks, mobile apps, and rich media platforms.

So what lessons has she learned about the future of digital media from working with the emerging generations of super-users?

diginomica caught up with her at retail event NRF15 in New York where she says:

Well, it's remarkable. It shakes you to the core. I believe we live in a world today where we have no idea how apps and mobile media are going to revolutionise the way [children] learn, the way they consume. Cable television? The notion that children, the next generation, are going to pay for cable television? They're not.

The biggest risk is that they're multitasking constantly, they're constantly on their devices. So the con [downside] is the degree to which they're 'in the moment'. Eye contact, relationships, relationship management, are all a problem.

But they use their devices for everything. And we see them use their devices in a more profound way day in, and day out. In education, apps and devices will be embedded in everything. And if you go into a coffee shop, it's inevitable that how you order your food, how it gets delivered, how you view the headlines, where you park your car, its all going to be determined by mobile technology [for that generation of users].

Glick's point is that the built environment will increasingly be impacted by the devices in our pockets. In the US, sports stadia such as Levi's in Santa Clara, California (home to the San Francisco 49ers) are already mobile-enabled to the extent that people in the crowd can order food and branded goods during a match and have those items delivered directly to them in their seats, while they watch instant replays of points on their phones.

This leads Glick to articulate challenges for the retail sector:

Kids will not know any other world where they are not dependant on their device. So the biggest hurdle for industry is to figure out how that's going to change how they hire, how they break through the noise. So if you're a large retailer right now, how are you going to get to that consumer – a kid especially – who is bifurcated [via technology] and is really choosing where they want to be in every minute of the day? That organic thing is going to be essential.

Kids are living on Instagram. They're not living on Twitter. They're not living on Facebook, that's for sure. And you would think that Instagram is this static thing, but their likes [on it] are strongly influencing their decision-making. So retailers and all businesses are going to have to figure out how to break through the clutter, how do you get their attention, how do you develop that brand loyalty in the way that Apple did for us [adults]?

And the other thing I'd say is, everyone today looks at the app. But we know the apps change minute by minute. So you'll no longer live in world where you have a static app that you upgrade three months later. You're going to have to use a system such as [SAP] HANA so that apps constantly evolve and change. 'We're using the guys we used last year on app X' just doesn't work anymore.

And there's another, perhaps unexpected, impact from the always-on, data-driven culture that young people already exist in: absolute transparency and layers of embedded information. Glick concludes:

Kids want to know where everything is sourced from. They want to know where the food is coming from, they want to know if it's farmed to table, and if any antibiotics have been used. They want to know who made that sweater.

And oh, by the way, for any retailer, any corporation, if you don't stand for something, if you're not doing something that's good and that provides a vehicle for giving something back to your community, they don't want your business.

A big piece of the DNA of successful brands today is that they are standing for something. And this generation of kids has an expectation that who they do business with, and the products they purchase, are doing something to help the community and help the environment.

If not, you're going to get left by the wayside.

Disclosure: at time of writing, SAP is a premier partner of diginomica.