6 Keys to Marketing to Generation C: The Millennial Killers

5 min read
November 23, 2016

Generation C

Does it seem to you like Millennials are taking over the world?  Everywhere we go, we hear about how Millennials are changing how we sell, market, and even vote.  The Millennial generation has virtually flipped society as we knew it on its head.  Damn the Millennials with their technology and their need for wifi and coffee, along with their impatience necessitating on-demand entertainment.  Millennials have ruined everything right? Or have they?

How did this happen and why do we care so much about what Millennials think or do? The old school marketing textbook states: you target and cater to the largest consumer group with the greatest buying power.  Basic math also backs this up.  For a long time that group was the Baby Boomers but as they aged, the Millennial generation replaced them as the flavor of the month. (What was Generation X? chopped liver?)  But then something unexpected happened... phones got smart.

The Tipping Point

In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell cites the The Law of the Few.  "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts".  According to Gladwell, economists call this the "80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the 'work' will be done by 20 percent of the participants."  The connector, maven, and salesperson are those who drive social epidemics that change behavior.  The Millennial generation simply personifies that 20% and their technology allows them to neatly assume those roles.  The intersection of the advent of the smartphone and the Millennials coming of age, represents a moment of societal critical mass, the threshold, the boiling or tipping point, where technology no longer simply represents new products, but offers more efficient solutions to complex problems.  Millennials make the concept of waiting, no longer a necessary inconvenience, but rather an unacceptable concept.

Asking the Right Question

As the Internet matured, having learned valuable lessons from the dot com bubble, so did Millennials.  They began to use the supercomputer in their pockets to manage every aspect of their lives.  The on-demand world was born.  News, entertainment, information, transportation, even sushi needed to ordered in a convenient way and delivered on their terms.  They were the first to begin asking why? Why do I need to stand in the rain with an outstretched arm to hail a taxi when I can create a better system using my phone?  Why spend hours shopping in crowded stores when I can do so more conveniently using my phone?  Why wait to watch my favorite entertainment at home when I can kill time and do so now?  Why?  Millennials sought efficiency in a over-saturated and busy world.


While Millennials might have been the first to ask the right question and maybe even the first to offer a solution, we make the assumption they're the only ones interested in these simple life altering solutions.  We blame Millennials for this now more convenient shift in societal behavior.  Critics would say it was born of the Millennial's spoiled lack of patience.  They've become the scapegoat for our guilt in creating a work smarter, not harder society.  During this last Presidential election cycle, one candidate quipped America doesn't "make" anything anymore.  While yes, gone are the days of big industry, today we focus on making those products work around our lives instead of the other way around.  

Generation C: The Connected Consumer

Noted digital analyst, Brian Solis said that while the Millennial or Gen Y is the first to seemingly possess digital prowess as part of their DNA,  they represent a larger subset less defined by an age group than by a consumer class.  In The End of Business as Usual, Solis introduces what he calls, Gen-C, The Connected Consumer. Gen-C is defined as "anyone who places increasing emphasis on technology as part of their daily routine."  While commonly behavior reserved for the Millennial, Gen-C proves similarly elusive or immune to traditional marketing tactics.  "It is how people embrace technology," he wrote, "from social networks to smartphones to intelligent appliances, that contributes to the digital lifestyle that is now synonymous with Gen C."  So what type of marketing resonates with the Generation C.

Marketing to Generation C

This Connected Consumer lives on digital media, traditional media is irrelevant.  They have mastered the art of seamlessly navigating from device to device often in the midst of a project or even a complete thought, all without missing a beat.  The ability to stream video content reigns paramount and instant notifications, tweets and updates provide the real-time on-demand news they crave.  As a result, occasional inaccuracies and premature announcements are perceived as a small price to pay for access.  Communicating through comments, texts and tweets are as acceptable a form of formal communication as an email or letter. Creating a customized and curated experience is of premier value.
Even the finest Sales Jedi Mind Tricks are rendered useless on Generation C.  Almost from birth, Gen C has been trained to circumvent such obstacles.  Here are a few tips on how to engage Gen C in your next marketing campaign.  
  1. Have it their way.  Successful marketing requires you meet them where they live and on their terms.  All of your marketing and branding should consider its audience, how they will consume it and the mediums they prefer/  
  2. Word-of-mouth validation is the the ultimate co-sign.  Online recommendations from peer networks, product and service reviews or a thumbs up are for more effective in influencing buying behavior than any display advertising, even digital.  
  3. Go Social. No longer can marketers ask themselves should I be on social media but rather should they continue to invest in traditional.  While may not need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn, marketers must invest where their customers gather.  This might now
  4. Be Content Fluent. To truly master the art of engaging Gen C you must understand content.  How is it shared and why, what makes it entertaining, informative?  What makes content sticky or clickable and what makes it rise to the top of feeds and organic search rankings.  Navigating the internet is no longer the rabbit hole it used to be, its a gridlock or information and everyone needs a GPS.
  5. Don't forget the young multiculturals.  While Generation C is indeed an ageless demographic, cultural cues are still driven by young multicultural influencers.  Especially when marketing new products or launching new service lines, its important to engage the multiculutral commuinity.  They are inheriently curious and enjoy setting the agenda for what is cool.  
  6. Inbound is Key.  To effectively reach Generation C, an inbound strategy must be employed.  Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. With an inbound strategy, marketers create and share value-driven content designed to appeal to your best customers.  Gen C is fueled by quality content and this methodolgy plays perfectly.  You're able to attract only qualified prospects to your business and keep them coming back for more.

Generation C confirms what already knew: you don't need to be of a certain age to communicate in emojis, want to wear sneakers in the workplace or need an app for everything.  Traditional generational divides no longer exist and technology has trenscended age, race and sex.  To learn more about how you can market to Gen C. download our ebook below or schedule a free marketing assesment today.


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