An entire generation of Americans is growing up with no newspapers and very few catalogs. They might not even know what a phone book looks like.

Scary stuff for an old retail fart like me!

This group is more concerned about value than privacy. They’ve never believed they had privacy, anyway. How to pay for something is often more important than how much something sells for. Possibly, this is a holdover view shared with their over-extended parents.

They live lives online and offline. Spending 6-plus hours a day in the cyber world is not uncommon. SecondLife, MySpace, YouTube and avatars are common place.

Other generations remember new fangled inventions like TV, microwave ovens and ATM machines. This generation has never lived without internet. Their worldview is different.

You’ll only keep their attention for nanoseconds. They are capable of doing three things at once. They prioritize time and money differently than previous groups of consumers. They even think buying software is old fashioned. (Can you believe it?)

Do you want to be in business in twenty years? You’d better see the world through their eyes.

These “digital natives” have laptops, cell phones, IPods, Black-berry, DS, digital cameras, DVD burners. They are connected, and they are on the prowl for more.

They are working in nearly every retail setting already. If you want to keep up you ought to be hiring more of them at every turn.

I’m not suggesting picking them while alienating older consumer groups which have a lot more spending money. I am suggesting, however, that technology today allows us to talk to different consumers in their language. But you must know their language in order to speak it. The BS meters of this group are well tuned and waiting to pounce

Now don’t go running out half-cocked thinking you’re going to dominate this group. Don’t, however, wait with your head in the sand for them to choose you when they have the money, because by then it will be too late. They will already have chosen your competition.

Are you spending your advertising money and recruiting people the way you did five years ago? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then please change. If not, don’t say you haven’t been warned.