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.)