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A look at the rise of the connected customer

This year’s LinkedIn Brand Connect conference introduced me to a new concept of consumer called ‘Generation C’ (‘C’ meaning ‘connected’).

In today’s increasingly digital society, it certainly has a ring to it.

Brian Solis, a digital analyst, sociologist and futurist presented an interesting keynote on Gen-C.

He describes Gen-C as a new type of consumer that transcends demographics (as in Generation X or Generation Y). They ‘consume’ information and experiences based on their social habits developed from their digital lifestyle. Their use of technology to consume means they are always connected to a vast community of people anywhere and not just with friends, family and colleagues.

A great example of this was when Solis asked the audience “How many of you use Twitter?” All hands were raised. Then he asked, “And who is on Twitter right now, as we speak?” Only a few show of hands this time, including mine. This group is Gen-C.

The way we communicate extends beyond text messaging, email communication, instant messaging and even Skype. Our preferred methods of communication are via social media, blogs, online communities and other digital applications.

These niche communication channels are used in unique combinations. Therefore, Gen-C has much more control over their information sources (and therefore more control over the marketing messages they are exposed to).

So from a business and marketing perspective, the connected customer is more elusive to traditional marketing and service tactics.

When a connected customer wants to purchase a new smartphone, they start their purchasing journey by looking to their ‘circle of influence’ on social networks, online communities and other online channels for information and advice.Solis says they will search for at least 10 sources of credible info and opinion before making a purchase decision. Then they share their experiences via the same connected channels.

In contrast, a typical consumer will start their purchasing journey with research via search engine for company info or product reviews. They’ll look at company websites, news sources and independent product review websites. Search engine optimisation plays an important role in their journey.

Because Gen-C is always connected, how do we communicate with them?

Some common examples include:

How do you reach your audiences?