Babes in Cyberland

They might be small, but Generation We's got plenty of pull.
This story first appeared in the December 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

While their moms and dads are connecting via MySpace and Facebook, a new crop of kiddies as young as age 4 are watching YouTube and playing Webkinz, an online game that lets kids chat with each other. This under-11 set has been using technology since their tiny fingers could click a mouse.

Research firm Iconoculture has dubbed them "Generation We," and marketers like Mike D'Abramo, director of research and strategy for marketing firm Youthography, say these kids are the youngest subset of a group called Born Digital--young people who have never known a world without the internet.

"They're definitely influenced by what they see online," says Laura Johnson, 32, co-founder with her brother, Jeff Johnson, and Ryan Brown, both 27, of XYZ Boutique, a clothing boutique in Indialantic, Florida. "They have access to many more resources to see different styles and [learn about] different cultures." Her store's hip, young styles cater to the Gen We set--and their very definite views about clothing.

D'Abramo emphasizes the need to be aware of how these kids are influencing what adults buy--and buy for them. They want more technology integrated into even the simplest games, he says, like Legos with battery-operated parts. Add-ons represent huge marketing opportunities for entrepreneurs. "Now it's not just the money for an iPod; it's paying for the accessories and iTunes," he says.

The good news is that reaching these kids is easier than ever. Many have e-mail accounts, so sending age-appropriate e-mails (that follow youth marketing laws) works. D'Abramo says that banner advertising and even youth-skewed TV shows are good options, too. He says the key is to clearly show them why what you're selling is a must-have, since jaded kids can be a tough audience.

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