Last week I was invited by Nielsen to present at the inaugural Consumer 360 conference in Jakarta Indonesia. I presented on one of my favourite topics: Generation C. Many of you may have read some of my other posts and presentations on how the ‘Connected Collective’ are interacting with brands and each other via social media, but If you haven’t, here are the key points from my presentation from the Nielsen press release.
Just who, or what is Gen C? This question, posed by Mr. Dan Pankraz speaking at Nielsen’s inaugural Consumer 360 Conference in Jakarta Indonesia (19 October 2010), drew curious looks or blank faces among the participants. Mr. Pankraz also highlighted the need for companies to understand and engage Gen C, a group he believes to be the most highly influential in the world due to their need to share their lives via social media platforms.
Unlike Gen Y or Gen Z, Gen C is not an age cohort. “Gen C are teens and the 20-somethings who have been ‘hatched’ out of social media. They could be 9 or 39. What ‘C’ stands for has been widely debated: a few years ago it was about Generation CONTENT…now it’s a multitude of things…it’s about constant connectivity, collaboration, change, co-creation, chameleons, cyborgs, curiosity. But most of all, Gen C are ‘The Connected Collective’,” Mr. Pankraz explained.
“Gen C is not a target audience but a community of digital natives that want to collaborate with brands, they want to be involved in the brand story. The yare already co-creating content for brands as we speak,” said Mr. Pankraz. To be successful in marketing to Gen C, brands must create fresh, cultural capital for Gen C to talk about, a process which also gives them “status” within their tribes and social networks.
To help marketers better understand what makes Gen C “tick”, Mr. Pankraz discussed some key characteristics:
- Tribal behaviour: To have a better chance of reaching Gen C, brands need to get into conversations that are happening within and across tribes. Like many youths, Gen C form their identities by belonging and expressing themselves within “tribes” reflecting the desire to “connect” around interesting ideas, cultural objects, causes and movements. Opinions from within tribes have more credibility and get more attention compared to external sources.
- Social status derived by what you share: Gen C gain credibility in their friends world by expressing opinions, sharing ideas, observations and thoughts. “Their influence within their friends worlds depends on what they share and how often they share. Marketers need to think about how they’re enhancing the social status of the individuals they’re trying to engage with.”
- Bee-like swarm behaviour: Powered by social media platforms, Gen C members mobilize as one with their tribes like bees, around topics that interest them. Marketers who want to influence them effectively must talk to “we”, not “me”. “How are you creating a conversation for the swarm to run with?” Mr. Pankraz asked.
When it comes to buying decisions, 85% of youths rely on peer approvals. Everything is reviewed and rated, making decision-making a team sport. Marketing successfully to this group therefore also becomes all about “talking to the community, not the individual”.
- Social oxygen: More than any other “generations”, Gen C thrives on constant connectivity via social media platforms. Their mobile devices therefore become their “social oxygen”, enabling to connect, create and share opinions and thoughts with their tribes.
“The mobile phone acts as their lifeline to the world but interestingly they also use it as a social shield to protect them from people they don’t want to hang out with,” Mr. Pankraz noted.
- Continuous partial attention: Teens today consume 13 hours of content daily and have constant exposure to new ‘news’. As experts at managing content and information, they engage in never-ending conversations, constantly “livestreaming” their experiences to the world.
- Chameleons: Social media platforms has created a new tribal behaviour amongst Gen C, they are “chameleons”, constantly changing and morphing their identities to simultaneously belong to as many different tribes as possible. One-dimensionality is not an option for Gen C.
- Co-creators: The social web has brought out Gen C’s creativity, leading to what Mr. Pankraz calls the “democratisation of creativity”. They no longer consume ideas, but actively participate, play and collaborate. They demand to be part of the brand story.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Pankraz offered 5 Tips On Creating Content For Generation C. In essence, marketers should ensure that content:
- Is relevant, useful & entertaining
- Enhances social status within tribes
- Begs a reaction and has a fun social interface
- Connects Gen C members with each other, not just with a brand
- Enables Gen C to participate in, play with or produce themselves and pass on