From Gen Y to Gen C: The Connected Customer

Generation CI have just returned from a two week visit to Malta delivering workshops on the EU funded ADVANCE Tourism Project.  A big thank you to everyone who made my visit so enjoyable.  A special thanks to the Programme Management Team and to all who participated in one of the Customer Management/Social Media workshops.  Thanks for making the sessions a two-way dialogue rather than a one way broadcast.

Given the topic of the workshops, one of the key issues discussed was the emergence of the ‘Social Customer’.  As argued by Brian Solis in his recent book The End of Business as Usual, social consumers are fundamentally different from traditional consumers.  They place much greater emphasis on the shared experiences of those they trust on social networks rather than corporate driven brand messages. They expect brands to respond to their socialized questions.  According to the author, this will require businesses to rethink their traditional approach to sales, service, marketing and customer relationship management. ‘Being Social’ will become the new key to consumer connection and success.

Brian has further developed this argument in a more recent article entitled Meet Generation C: The Connected Customer.  This is a ‘must read’ article for everyone interested in the revolutionary changes being brought about by social media and related technologies.

The article starts by summarising the digital habits of Gen Y (Millennials).  In the words of Don Tapscott, this is the first generation to have Grown Up Digital.  They are the Net Generation. Their digital lifestyles have become well known.

Brian extends this argument by stating clearly that it is no longer an age thing.  It is how people embrace technology, from social networks to smartphones to intelligent appliances, that defines Gen C (the Connected Customer), not age.  As a fully paid up ‘50 something’ proactive member of Gen C I would totally agree with this 🙂

Hybrid ComputingThe remainder of the article presents some very interesting and comprehensive statistics about Gen C covering the following:

  • Time spent on social network sites/blogs etc
  • Use of mobile phones and tablets
  • The extension of Gen C to every demographic group, including females and older people e.g. 72% of ‘baby bommers’ and 79% of Gen X are now active users of social network sites
  • Cross platforms being used to engage, create, connect, consume, communicate and contribute e.g. PCs,tablets, smartphones, connected TVs etc
  • Multitasking

Please take a few minutes to read the full article here.

The rise of Gen C raises very important implications for all aspects of life – for marketers, educators, politicians etc.

  • Politicians – how can digital technology be used to better involve and engage with Gen Y and Gen C in the wider political/economic agenda?

Lost GenerationPerhaps there is one other group worth mentioning – the Lost Generation.  With youth unemployment/underemployment in many developed countries running at 20 to 40%, are we creating a lost generation?  Yet does this group not possess the digital ‘mindsets’ and social networking skills critical to our business/economic success in an increasingly connected world?  Should we be developing a ‘match maker’ service ensuring that our companies fully leverage the digital skills of Gen Y and Gen C?

As usual comments and feedback are very welcome. Gen Y, Gen C or Gen Lost?


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  1. Russell Imrie
    April 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Great article Jim. Clearly explains the change from Gen Y to Gen C or Gen D (digital) or Gen Me (satisfy and engage with Me). Also very important point for marketers about not falling into the trap of thinking that Gen C are age biased. Big point that one.

  2. Jim Hamill
    April 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks Russell, totally agree.

    Hope you are well. Always open for ideas re guest posts if interested.

    Take care.

    Jim H

  3. Joseph Vella-Zarb
    April 23, 2012 at 9:01 am - Reply

    ‘… no longer an age thing’ reminds me of your remark to me when I said “Maybe I am too old for social networking!” and you answered me very strongly that it has nothing to do with age. Thanks Jim. You are right. And thanks for Module 1 which I enjoyed tremendously. Hopefully, we will see you in Malta again.

    • Jim Hamill
      April 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Thanks Joseph – yes it has less to do with age and more to do with ‘mindset’. Should be back in Malta soon.

      Take care

      Jim H

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