Eight seconds.

That's how long you have to keep their attention.

Eight seconds.

At VentureBeat's Marketing.FWD conference here in New York City this week, Dana Anderson of Mondelez gave us all a crash course on the generation that's gonna make Millennials seem like Luddites.

As the mother of two children who are definitely Generation Z, I saw a lot of reality in her presentation, "Blurred Lines: The Power Propelling Ecommerce"

For starters, the five rules of what Anderson calls the "new fluidity":

  1. Abundance of choice
  2. Freedom to move between choices with ease
  3. Disappearance of boundaries
  4. More acceptable solutions to a broader spectrum of problems
  5. Self-created and self-curated

The new fluidity is completely due to the ubiquity of the smartphone and the comfort with using technology for just about anything. It crystalized for Anderson when she was out shopping with her daughter. They found a skirt her daughter liked, so the teen went on her phone, found a shirt to match it, ordered it and it was delivered to their house before they got home with the skirt.

Fluidity, Anderson explains, is an abundance of choice. Trends come and go with lightning speed. If you try to hop on a trend, you've probably already missed it.

All five of the rules are interrelated. The abundance of choice allows us to move between choices with little friction - no boundaries. I realize in how my sons are being taught math that Common Core isn't stupid - it's actually teaching my boys there are several different ways to solve any math problem. This generation is understanding that there's a lot of different ways to solve for X.

And those solutions? They're creating them, finding them, and bringing them together. They fiddle around and figure out which one works best for them or the situation.

That means the new fluidity has minimized demographics, geography, the middle man and physical barriers, Anderson pointed out. Now what's important for brands and companies?

  • Partners and potential alliances
  • Consumer engagement -- and evaluation
  • Speed of decision-making
  • Iteration & innovation

In the "old days" (you know, the early 2000s), you might have weeks or even months worth of meetings before reacting to problems or opportunities that would crop up.

"By the time you have all your conversations about how you'll react to something, the opportunity is gone," she said.

It's time we stop thinking of "e-commerce" and "brick and mortar" - it's all commerce. Huge retail stores are in your pocket, on that ubiquitous device.

Think mobile, think fast, and think creatively.

Think like Gen Z.