Born digital: A study of young consumers' use of brands

Sofie Herskind Christensen & Michelle Marie Petersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Executive Summary: The aim of our thesis is to gain a deeper understanding of the generation called Digital Natives. These digital, savvy consumers are today described as exciting yet unusual consumers who cannot be regarded as belonging to any other segment due to their special upbringing in the digital age. They have been immersed in digital technologies from the day they were born and are therefore navigating a complex and sophisticated online/offline world that most of us born later cannot fully comprehend. In our thesis we have explored how the digital age has changed the stomping ground for their construction of identity, and consequently, how they express themselves - both in relation to themselves and to their social surroundings in their online/offline world. In our attempt to unveil the underlying motivation for these Digital Natives’ use of brands to construct an identity, the focus in our empirical research has been on them as consumers. Basically, we wanted to gain a profound and holistic understanding of their life worlds so we could establish the symbolic cues that they consider imperative for their construction of self. Based on our study, we were not able to find sufficient evidence to support the belief that the digital age has had a significant influence on the Digital Natives’ use of brands in relation to their social sphere. Even though the world has changed dramatically during the last decades, we can conclude that some things still remain. Digital Natives share the same basic premises on how to use brands as important tools to send the messages: “This is who I am” and “This is where I belong”. Nonetheless, our study does not disregard that the digital age has provided consumers with more building blocks with which they can express themselves. Despite this, we believe that the common discourse of Digital Natives as being unusual and exceptional consumers is out of proportion, at least in our focus of research. We therefore argue that despite the fact that “Digital Natives” is a hot and widely discussed topic a profound understanding of them has not been achieved.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages244