“Digital natives” is the name given to the generation now approaching driving age. Growing up with the Internet and connected 24/7 by digital technology, this generation relates to friends, information and technology in ways their parents’ generation never imagined.
As Nissan researched the interests and attitudes of future car customers, the company coined a term to describe the generation that will reach driving age in the next few years: “share natives.”
These are the future customers for the automobile industry. But what kinds of cars will they want? Will they even want cars? Visionary concepts like Nissan’s Teatro for Dayz, on display at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2015, are a starting point for understanding the future with share natives.
Share natives have never known a world without the Internet
Internet use has reached critical mass in different countries at different times. In Japan, for example, Internet penetration was just 13.4% in 1998. By 2003, the rate had reached 64.3%. This was the beginning of the share native generation.
Home Internet availability transformed the way this generation played. Consider video games. In the 1990s, portable game devices and 3D home video games were all the rage. High-speed internet connectivity changed everything; it enabled children to play games with friends who were in the next town or even in another country. Play became synonymous with connecting and the line dividing friends from strangers with common interests began to disappear.
Following fast on the heels of the Internet was the ubiquitous spread of mobile phones. In 1999 mobile phone penetration reached 67.7%. Four years later it had increased to 94.4%. Smartphone growth was even more explosive, expanding from 9.7% in 2010 to 62.6% in 2013.
As mobile phones rapidly evolved from a technology only for adults to something every child had to have, share natives skipped over the experience of home (landline) phones and shared family PCs and went straight to full-time personal connectivity. By this time, blogs and SNS were part of everyday life. While adults wrote blogs on desktop PCs, share natives used their mobile phones to post and share their photos and experiences on social media.
Sharing that surpasses communities
The greatest difference between share natives and previous generations is their engagement with information. Older generations received information through traditional media, such as television and newspapers. The experience was top-down and one-way. The Internet turned information into something people search for. It’s interactive and user-controlled. To a share native, search is natural.
The Internet is an ocean of information that is borderless and overflowing. Share natives feel at home in this environment, naturally moving from place to place, always discovering new things and satisfying every curiosity. Most information is free, so the question of cost rarely arises. Yet in this rapidly expanding ocean of information, it is challenging to find exactly what you need. That’s why share natives connect with others who share their interests, whether it be real world friends or people they know only online. Share natives are perfectly comfortable having meaningful relationships that exist only online.
Today information is shared immediately. And information shared with one person can very quickly be shared with others. Share natives have no reservations about sharing friends’ posts with strangers or receiving information from someone completely new.
Communicating true feelings — no words required
For share natives, connecting and sharing is daily life. Smartphones make the experience even more immediate.
From the time they could walk, share natives have used handheld digital devices. As a result, their communication is often in shorthand. A single word, emoji or emoticon often says it all. This generation’s acronyms, abbreviations and symbols are ever-changing and indecipherable to older generations. Armed with smartphones, share natives can communicate a full range of experiences and feelings without speaking or typing a single word.
Even enjoying photos and videos is different for this generation. Since everything is shared on social media, enjoyment is derived not from the private moment of viewing images, but from the public experience of sharing them. By posting pictures of friends in costumes, selfies and videos from parties and events, share natives find likeminded friends. Everything is shared immediately, and the experience is borderless.
Games and smartphone apps have expanded the experiences of the virtual world and made them all more immediate. Even during brief breaks, share natives update their statuses and play games, and sophisticated maps and GPS functions are rearranging the sense of virtual space in the real world.
Phones were initially designed for one-on-one communication, but smartphone apps now allow group conversations. Most of these services are free, so share natives can sit in their own space, chatting with friends from around the country as easily as a previous generation might have gathered for a neighborhood party.
Teatro for Dayz — the car for sharing experiences
What share natives value above all else is being connected to friends. Older generations may shake their heads at the sight of kids absorbed in their smartphones, but this is how life is experienced for them.
Nissan grappled with the question of what kind of car would appeal to share natives. One concept is Teatro for Dayz: a platform from which share natives can play, create, communicate and share experiences.
For everyone, regardless of age, the excitement of vehicles lies in the experience. Until now, Nissan has focused on vehicle experiences familiar to anyone born in the 20th century: driving somewhere new; basking in luxury; exploring driving passion; brisk acceleration. With Teatro for Dayz, Nissan has designed a car just for share natives. Representing both a radical departure from the past and compelling vision of the future, this concept is a canvas from which share natives can create and share experiences. As a platform for imagination and free inspiration, Teatro for Dayz will be the first car to excite the hearts and minds of the next generation of drivers.
Note: Facts and figures concerning Internet and telecommunications usage rates were drawn from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ “Communication Usage Trend Survey”