1. Why should I care about Generation C?
If you in are business, you need to be on top of trends. Unlike any other generation in history – this generation is growing because it is a mindset across a wide age group rather than a tight demographic. This means that Gen C has very different demands of business, when compared to any other generation that has come before them.
2. Who are Generation C?
We call them Digital Natives. These are people with an active preference to communicate and express themselves through digital media – be it mobile phones, internet, cameras, e-mail and such like.
3. Isn’t that nearly anyone then?
No. There are two clear ‘types’ of Generation C. Firstly, those that are ‘born’ Gen C (21 years old and younger) and secondly, those who have adopted Gen C behaviours into their lives. Both ‘types’ of Gen C are united by a) their passion for and b) their involvement with the digital world.
4. What is this based on?
- We have the most comprehensive database on Gen C in the world and we are always adding to it. That means that we live Gen C every day.
- There is some compelling data that backs up this view on Gen C. For example, the myth that social networking is a ‘young person’s thing’ is not backed up by the data. Roughly half of blogs are authored by people who are over 30 years old and the age profile on social networking sites is also ageing. This supports the view that Gen C is a choice rather than a birthright.
- The role of the internet is changing fast. According to Nielsen buzz metrics in 2003, 46% of people were online predominantly to communicate (which by the way is very Gen Y). Whereas by 2007, 47% of people were using the internet mainly to interact in some way with content. In other words, people are shifting from seeing the net as a more functional tool for communication to an emotional channel for sharing views on as well as contributing to content.
5. What does the C stand for?
There’s a lot of speculation on this. The key ones are Community, Channel, Creativity, Co-Creativity, Content and Celebrity. While this is of interest, the challenge is that, these words describe what this generation like doing. The critical missing ingredient is that these words don’t explain why or what the underlying motivation of Gen C is. Once you know that, you can really start to consider how to plan for the Gen C factor!
6. What do we think the C stands for?
In a word – Control.
Why – we believe that there is such an overwhelming choice of culture in the 21st century that Gen C wants it on their terms. So, rather than taking the culture that society gives them (eg TV, Rolling Stones, Star Wars) Gen C would rather make their own. This often comes in the form of communicating about and creating digital content. It’s theirs and they own it and they expect to have a say and be heard.
7. How will we really know what C stands for?
One way is that we are facilitating a world first with a volunteer organisation where Gen C is creating its own docu-film to demonstrate what Gen C really is. It’s mass scale research without the directive questioning.
Further, we will then be using the science of semiotics to understand what’s being said.
So, what’s semiotics?
We think of it like this – psychology is about understanding your head and semiotics is about understanding how the stuff in your head (culture) got there in the first place. In other words, semiotics is the analysis of culture. And culture is a software program we all understand, which uses signs and conventions so we can get it.
For example, we all have expectations of what a fashion show will look like or a magazine etc….With semiotics we ‘decode’ the sign language of any category and we apply it so we can continue to tap into the Gen C software.
8. So what is going to be the impact of this Generation?
It’s going to be significant.
For an immediate example of our view of how Gen C will impact one just one category – the future of music – listen to our podcast.
In brief, the podcast shows a future for the music industry that you may not recognise and it’s not the only category like this! We anticipate that the future of music retailing will look like the cross between a library, hotel, university and high street recording studio. People will be able to get music education, customised collections, DJing and Violin playing in one place. If you think that sounds a bit crazy – remember that pre 1997 – having an email address wasn’t even mainstream beyond the workplace…never mind what you could or could not do with a very chunky mobile phone….
9. What does that mean for marketing and advertising?
The head of P&G said this is the end of ‘telling and selling’. The old way of marketing was basically: make a product, put a label on it, make sexy ads to promote it, then repeat.
The new way is more tricky. Gen C like interacting, they like talking, they like being heard and they are turning off the TV and radio globally and/or enjoying many media at the same time.
Bottom line. They will want to feel genuinely consulted when products are developed and have the option to communicate with companies through open channels to air their ideas and also to contribute to ideas for doing ‘real things’.
This means we will move from brand management to creating brand movements, in which rather than ‘controlling messaging, controlling the consumer’ customers are so much more involved. If you think the answer is just to do blogging and a website you are wrong.
Old way – New Way
We come up with the product/service ideas then go and research them.
We have an ongoing conversation about products/services with people and co-create product/service ideas online before taking them to customers.
We control brand messaging and push ads at audiences to get them to purchase. We claim this is consumer focussed and that the consumer owns the brand – not us. We all know that this is a myth.
We walk the talk. There is a shift from communication by telling and selling to doing. Doing is about the brand being actively engaged with consumers and co-creating ideas for issues they care about. E.g. Tescos in the UK has 60% of all expectant mothers on its site where it’s created a community about how to have a good pregnancy.
10. What does that mean for my industry?
In a word, change. The more you understand the change, the better you will be able to see it as an opportunity versus a threat.
Your view of Gen C will affect how you approach your future. In order to make an informed decision and understand Generation C and its impact for you, please get in touch. We run special courses, talks, workshops & seminars tailored to your industry which will allow you to manage Gen C in your organisation and profit from its behaviour.