the evolution of a new generation of consumers

Kids these days. While their fashions and musical tastes may continue to bewilder older consumers and marketing managers, their media habits have begun to become our own. Mobile use for more “mature” audiences has been on the rise. The number of Gen X-er profiles on Facebook now nearly matches those of Gen Y-ers, and all things considered, Baby Boomers aren’t too far behind. Interactive marketing is no longer just for the young. Cross-generational digital involvement is recreating the very fabric of the typical consumer. Gen C or Generation Connected has arrived, and many 35 plus-ers are a part of it.

Typically the term generation implies a group of people born within a similar date range, who share a similar cultural experience. Post-WWII affluence shaped the Baby Boomers; Gen-X is defined by their pragmatism; and Gen-Y millennials finds their identity tied to neoliberalism and digital savant.

Generation Connected, however, differs from the generation norm in that its group identity rests solely on the social interactions and extra-social interests of its members. According to the Q3-Q4 Neilsen Digital Consumer Report:

  • Only 5% of Generation Y lacks a social networking, media sharing, microblogging, blogging, wiki, social review, or social bookmarking site account
  • Only 13% of Generation X lacks the above
  • Only 20% of the Baby Boomer Generation lacks the above

break from traditional

Corporations rarely reach Generation C using only traditional marketing. Generation C is always on something. Most Facebook while they channel surf, browse apps in the drive through, and check sports scores from classes or meetings. Even if they’re watching your commercial or glancing at your billboard, they’re on their iPads reading the digital ads next to new articles or examining popup ads on mobile games. Traditional has now become the background noise of digital.

simply complicated

Gen-C prefers consuming digital media because they want to see and feel the immediate impact that their voice has the marketplace. The appeal of digital lies in its seeming hierarchical transcendence. Anyone, of any age, can voice their own brand critique, from anywhere. Embrace digital, but look before you leap. Avoid operating off misconceptions by conducting investigative research without preconceptions. Your customers differ from your stakeholders who differ from you as a paid brand advocate. Just because you CEO cares about a “big” piece of company news doesn’t mean that even one of your customers does.

Figure out what they want, where they look for it, and why it interests them, or no matter how much time or money you spend on interactive or social development, you may as well be speaking to a wall.

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