Generation C : Where The Customer Finally Becomes The King

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In the era of social media and the socialization of organizations, consumers are now more than ever true kings. While access to an economy of abundance and new technologies promotes online consumerism, brands are nevertheless struggling to find innovative ways to establish new, trusting relationships with their customers. They need to learn to exchange ideas and communicate more openly, and increasingly involve consumers in their processes.

Because they are frontline users, Generation C’s influence on others represents major stakes for advertising companies. They can end up being the best ambassadors or the worst critics. Companies need to integrate new marketing influence concepts and recommendations in their strategy and make users their central priority, because these new user-consumers, now known as Generation C, are definitely a better return on their investment. (Read: Socially Devoted to You – What’s The ROI of Being Attentive to Your Customers, an infographic by DemandForce, via TICS y formacion).

The Power of User-Generated Content

In order to understand the impact these new influencers have, consider the tremendously powerful content they generate and diffuse daily in the social networks. According to recent studies, over 90% of consumers now rely on recommendations from their friends or family before they buy. Traditional advertising no longer has any real impact on them. Content generated by users and the marketing of recommendations are now at the heart of a new corporate culture; it’s a new way to do business and it’s driven by new, connected consumers.

This is precisely what the TrendWatching team wanted to demonstrate in 2004 by introducing a broad-based study on the behaviour of new consumers. The American magazine has since continued to publish an annual report on the consumption trends of the new Generation C.

Generation C: From Baby-Boomers to Generation Z!

In the midst of 2012’s booming social media, it would be a mistake to limit focus on Generation Y. Today, new consumers connected to Generation C are found among all social classes and are active in every age group. Social networking is now used by baby boomers, who use it to maintain contact with their relatives and prolong their careers; by Generations X and Y who use it at work; and by Generation Z, who has just entered the labour market. And, in less than 15 years there will be a new Alpha generation who will take over and introduce their own rules to the game.

During the last century, sociology has greatly evolved. Generational cycles have been forced to adapt to the evolution of our accelerated technological society and generations renew themselves more rapidly. In 2012, women are postponing having children until their thirties in order to better boost their careers. Mannheim’s conventional generational sociology (based on an average period of reproduction that is between 16 and 18 years old) has been replaced by a focus on consumer behaviour.

Today, every new Generation C user, which should be extended from 15 to 75 years-old, represents big stakes for businesses. What connects them is their ability to use new technologies and social media to meet their needs. (Also to read on WindMill Networking: Social Media Influence – Understanding the New Generation C).

Pro-active + con-sumer = prosumer

If companies want to reach these new influencers and in turn position themselves as leaders with new client groups, they must seek to understand what motivates each group going through the acquisition process. They need to listen and give them a voice.

Well aware of the power new technologies and social media afford them, new Generation C consumers benefit from this strong position to claim a growing influence. When talking about their experiences, it’s important they feel heard, and they demand a more active role within the commercial process. The new reign of prosumers begins.

To meet Generation C’s expectations, brands and companies must offer more and build on the quality and value of a full and rewarding experience. In 2013, companies are doomed to excellence. All aspects of the consumer process, from experience to delivery and from consumption to after sales service, must correspond to new user requirements.

And so, in a few years’ time, companies still active on the social web will realize that client / user satisfaction is ultimately the best return on their investment. With the arrival in force of the new generation C, the customer will finally become the king that they should have been treated as all along.

What do you think? Does the future for companies within social media depend on Generation C? Discuss this article and share your thoughts on the subject with our readers.

(Coming soon in this new column on Generation C: 7 Types of Connected Consumers.)

Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin contributes a monthly column on Social Media Influence. Raymond is a francophone author and speaker who has 20 years experience acting as a senior strategic consultant and coach for organizations, SMBs and independent professionals. Author of the books «Culture Web à la portée des PME» (2001) and «Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0» (2010), he has also contributed to several magazines and bloggers platforms over the years. His upcoming new book in French, entitled «Generation C et l’influence des consommateurs branchés», is prefaced by Neal Schaffer, and will be also published in English and Spanish during the next year. +Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin


Consultant Web/SMO, Blogs: #MaximizeSocialBusiness #Curatti - Livre: Génération Connectée - Le marketing d'influence à l'ère numérique
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  1. says

    Of course it’s not enough to follow people. I agree. We must engage followed folks and plan action so we get their engagement in campaigns etc. In addition we win Identification with our product/services.

  2. says

    I think that’s why “autorship value” is gaining importance so that “actions driven” by those “social media influencers” and “interaction measured” is becoming “trusted” and not considered “artificial”. Content AND trust are the keys I think. cheers Raymond

  3. says

    This is just the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it? I agree with Dom about trust and authorship being key. It’s not enough to seek positive user reviews (we all know those can be ‘bought’); it’s seeing a trusted face or user making a recommendation (or condemnation) that is increasingly of value. Accessibility is another area that can increase trust. A few daring companies welcome complaints on their websites and they correct the problems “live” for all to see and appreciate. So, a certain level of transparency and culpability in the ombudsman department seems to be appreciated too.

  4. Jose Castillo says

    New generations are more aware of your metal or wood, we use social networks to find and investigate new products, we are interested in the corporate social responsavilidad, they do to improve the quality of life of its environment.

  5. says

    Boy wouldn’t Tom Peters picked up on this one when he started his crusade about the importance of the customer? It’s always been that people have relied heavily on the influence of people they know. How often do we either recommend or poo-poo a restaurant to friends and they act on our experience that we have shared? For ever as long as I think of it. But the different today with what you call, Generation C, it their friends circle has now grown what, maybe 10 fold? Because of both social media where people “network” and because of the content out there through blogs. Great insights. Thanks.

  6. says

    Generation C is all about the story. Pitch hard at them in the social channels and you will lose them, even if it still works belly to belly. Tell them a great story, engage them with great content, or offer them something they do not have in an exciting way and they will activate in greater numbers.

  7. says

    I agree that thanks to Social Media customers’ opinions will gain in importance and will be used more and more in marketing. Each generation that comes along spends more time online voicing their likes and unlikes, and expects to be listened to and not taken for granted. Also, let’s not forget the influencers, those people who have gathered audiences of large followers. Already they are being sought out by companies instead of the celebrity spokespersons, and are probably more valuable, especially to the younger, more cynical generations!

  8. richmcl says

    All the different ‘generations’ are interesting to me, because at first I didn’t believe there was really a difference between the groups. I was living in a different generation and learned to program computers in 79/80 while my dad (to this day) has his secretary do all of his computer work. Only on my present trip to Dallas am I really seeing that there is a leap to make across the generations.

  9. Joan-FindingLeads4U says

    It has taken time and technology to reach a point where consumers are no longer dictated to. Sad for business that are not gaining positive cheer in social media, and sadder still for those sitting on the sidelines without having entered the arena. Thanks for a wonderful article Raymond.

    • says

      I don’t want to be pessimistic but in case of a compliant, it depends on the customer’s circle in the social media. Or a chance his opinion gets discovered by the media. And How do you think Yahoo! will respond to Tumbler’ users opinion? Maybe the leaked news about the operation was to measure the customers’ opinion, but let’s see what Yahoo! will do and see the real effect of Generation C. Or it is a whole idea promoted by the companies itself to give a false sense of satisfaction.

      • Joan-FindingLeads4U says

        Tend to agree with you Mustafa, competition is stiff all the way through. Yahoo let go of MyBlogLog years ago and that was such a nice use a friendly site. The buying and selling and moving is quite incredible to witness!

  10. says

    It’s an interesting time to be in marketing! (Isn’t there an ancient Chinese curse… “May you live in interesting times”?) Seriously, it is fascinating to be part of this transition, both as a consumer and as a marketer. I’m at the tail end of the baby boom, so I’ve lived the transition from mass-marketing to niche marketing to e-marketing to online marketing to social marketing. And, now, I think we finally are entering the era of 1-to-1 marketing, where consumers are equal – if not senior – partners in the relationship. It’s going to continue to be an interesting ride.

  11. says

    To me just involving a consumer for feedback does not make them King, If they were Kind they would own the profits. Which they do not, they may get a slice, via dividends, pay, bonuses, holidays etc, but that s different to out right legal and entity ownership. Without this they are still consumers not Kings not Queens just a consumer with a opinion. When they bring in the RFID’s and the cashless society any about 3 years away now you will see who is “kings” and it will not be those to whom you refer. They will be just as stressed as the next person rich or poor, but the ones that Truly OWN with legal entitlement will be laughing, as they have true control and not just an opinion. .

  12. says

    I agree with Lynn above

    “I think we finally are entering the era of 1-to-1 marketing, where consumers are equal – if not senior – partners in the relationship”

    However I assume she’s only talking about the relationship online! As retailers continue to abuse their place in the market and the intelligence of consumers on the high street.

  13. ice says

    I’m so happy I found your site. This is great! I am glad consumerism is taking a turn for the better.

  14. says

    I may have made this comment on another of your articles but I have the luxury and responsibility of never being more than 2 connections away from most of the companies developing the new technology I am using or buying. It gives me a level of comfort in knowing who is behing the service or product and responsibility (as we all should have) in how I convey my pleasure or displeasure in the service or product.

  15. says

    Very useful. I’ve converted from a brick and mortar business to a click and mortar business in the last few years, and i think that social media will further the internet industry and respective influences.

  16. says

    I am afraid that the vendor is now the king: getting online queries, they adjust their offer (price, content) dynamically, track visitors IPs to adapt offer and slightly raise the price of a repeatedly asked product, etc.
    While this might be seen as a new form of market, it is not a market since the strengths are unbalanced: oligopolistic vendors can peacefully raise their prices in concert, while customers have more difficulties to coordinate their defence.

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