Raymond Morin
August 27, 2014

GENERATION C: The Reign of the Connected Consumers

A new monthly column

I am very excited to present you this new monthly column on Generation C on Curatti.com. Each month, you will find here a summary of the different sections of my new book, “Generation C and the influence of consumers in social media”.

Foreword by Neal Schaffer (now my mentor and friend), this new reference guide is the result of over four years of research and reading, personal and professional experiences, interviews and discussions with entrepreneurs and experts on the growing influence of social networks. With this new feature, I offer you to share each month, an extract from my upcoming book on Generation C and the consumers connected, that will be only available online this fall, in French, English and Spanish.

The issue of online consumers

Over the next year, a leading business challenge will be to integrate new generations. However, to fully understand the new paradigms of online consumers, we must stop compartmentalizing generations in silos, and instead take a more comprehensive view of the phenomenon, and look more toward the new generation of responsible consumers. This generation of active and trendy consumers, seniors and baby boomers, generations X, Y and Z, that generation is now called Generation C.

Today, to stand out from the clutter of content and information that flow through social networks, marketing efforts must now be more targeted and focused on the experience and satisfaction of the customer. Organizations, businesses and professionals must seek to understand what motivates them to develop more personalized relationships, and build a new relationship based more on mutual trust and social values. Conventional marketing techniques do not work in social networks. Now, to meet the high expectations of the new connected consumers of Generation C, entrepreneurs need to be more social and have greater community outreach.

The sociology of generations: a science that has evolved!

During the last century, following numerous wars and the many social changes that have followed, the sociology of generations has greatly advanced. In the early 1900s, the German sociologist Karl Mannheim argued that generations are renewed in each period of 16-18 years, at the right time to start ensuring that the offspring will be the next generation.

However, from the 20s, social movements have accelerated, so that by the late 70s, in a book entitled “Sociology of generations, the imprint of time”, the French sociologist, Claudine Attias-Donfut, argued that generational sociology of Mannheim could not apply to the face complexity of our changing society. Since the 50s, generational attitudes change virtually every decade. Women delay their first pregnancy to the limit (in their thirties) to take advantage of their professional careers, and families are later. But they also come apart and reconstitute more rapidly (often within seven years according to most family mediators).

At the heart of a new social and economic power!

With the beginnings of the Arpanet in 1969, the modern world has been drawn into a profound technological and sociological change. Through a maelstrom of technological inventions, generations have had to adapt quickly to change. With the advent of the World Wide Web in the mid-90s, companies and organizations are also forced to adapt in turn to new technologies with the arrival of the new generations (Y and Z) in the labor market.

In 1994, American author Mark Prensky introduced the concept of a new generation of digital natives, in a series of articles grouped later in his book “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” In his classes, he already observed changes in behavior, and foresaw the coming of a new generation multi-functional, which would evolve with digital media, video games, cell phones and the World Wide Web. Today, twenty years later, thanks to new Web technologies and social media, new generations find themselves more than ever at the center of a new social and economic power. They reveal both consumers-users and the main workforce. In this sense, they exert a tremendous influence over brands and businesses. This is the beginning of the reign of Generation C.

The generation of connected consumers

A-deux-c-est-plus-facile-Michel-Galabru-confronte-au-choc-des-generations-le-4-juin-sur-Arte_image_article_paysage_newIt was in early 2004 that Trendwatching Magazine decided to look more closely at the behavior of users of new social media. In wanting to develop a profile of new consumers connected, they quickly found that certain aspects of the behavior of different generations overlapped in their buying habits online. And the impact of content and recommendations they generated in social media could greatly influence trends and trade activities online. To describe this new generation of consumers influencers, they chose the name of Generation C, for consumer, content and connection.

By February 2004, the editorial staff of Trendwatching began to scrutinize the actions of the Internet and social media users, and present trends in the online business for the benefit of companies and brands that enjoy and adapt. However, in their analysis, they have not only seen the new users of generations Y and Z, but also considered the online behavior of all users, from 12 to 75, seniors and baby-boomers to Millennials.

Not a question of age, but the connection …

In recent years, Brian Solis (specialist of Altimeter Group) also focused on the emergence of a new generation of online consumers by conducting several studies of his group, he says elsewhere in long article, Meet Generation C: The Connected Customer. Of course, he spends much of his analysis on the new generations, who represent the majority of new consumer-connected users on social media. But he quickly brings his thinking further by comparing the recent studies of Nielsen and IBM Research to draw a parallel between the evolution of the Internet over the past 10 years and the level of adoption of social media during this period, with online consumption, analyzed by gender and generation of users. Both studies provide data and detailed and very interesting statistics on the online behavior of each generation.

As the author points out in a recent post, in the digital age, we should no longer consider social media in terms of technology, but rather analyze the phenomenon in a sociological, anthropological and ethnographic context. A view which I fully share, and propose to share in this new column.  

Hoping that this new feature you can bring a new light on Generation C, and the consumers of the future, I invite you to share your opinions and comments, or your personal and professional experiences with the younger generation in the digital era.  







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Raymond Morin

SMO Senior Consultant, Author/Blogger and Speaker at Virage 2.0
Strategic analyst / consultant for over 20 years, specializing in optimizing Web marketing / social media for businesses and organizations, Raymond Morin is also the author of three reference guides (in French), and co-author of three other books about digital marketing, public relations and human resources management. A recognized professional blogger, in both languages, he regularly presents and facilitates conferences for organizations, as well as in-house training workshops. In English, he contributes monthly to various platforms of professional bloggers and social media influencers. His next book, Generation C - Confluence Marketing at the Era of Connected Consumers, will be published next fall on Friesen Press Publishing.