Just seven years ago, anyone asked to go a full 24 hours without looking at a single screen would struggle but manage. Today, that same request could prove impossible. From mobile devices to smart trashcans, consumers are more connected, more trackable and more visually engaged than ever before. Today, 100% of people use their smart phones as an alarm clock and it’s also the first thing they check when they stir into consciousness.
But the most vital, living breathing subculture in this world of “always on” is Gen C. To them, an iPhone is as common as a computer – it’s nothing new, nothing amazing… Its how they interact with the world.
As important and relevant as Gen C is, these technology-addicted consumers are often looked at by brands as just another coveted millennial group: A misinformed but common assumption that’s bound to limit the ROMI of a marketing campaign.
Smarter marketers are learning how to engage Gen C, defined as a state of mind, not a demographic, while less attuned marketers are missing the boat. While 80% of Gen C is comprised of millennials – those born after 1982 – the remaining 20% of consumers who don’t fall into to the demographic are certainly nothing for brands to scoff at.
Take a look at Puma. The brand clearly created its After Hours Athlete campaign with millennials in mind. The slang, the actors and the lifestyle shots connect to millennials on an emotional level and the award-winning ad drives to “Puma Social,” but by not incorporating other versions of the same spot to reach parents of teens, who are highly social and hold the purse strings, they miss out on a viable opportunity for deeper market penetration.
The fact is, Gen C values relevance and originality. One of the best examples of a marketing effort that hit the preverbal nail on the head is Oreo’s timely capitalization of the blackout during Superbowl XLVII. With no traditional investment in media during the game, the Oreo tweet was considered the clear winner of the year’s ad battle and with more than 21,000 retweets and favorites on Twitter, it garnered an incalculable amount of press coverage, i.e. earned media.
The right way and the wrong way.
Engaging this audience in the ‘right way’ requires an approach that takes the online behaviors of Gen C customers into account.
For example, the consumer sees a pre-roll ad on YouTube, which directs them to a website for a product demonstration. Ideally, the ad should have directed them to the brand’s YouTube channel for more product videos. Then, each video should have an overlay ad, which is linked to a coupon code they can either use immediately or send to their mobile device for use in-store.
Successful brands should be mindful of the potential pitfalls of communicating with these consumers the ‘wrong way’ – e.g. employing a one-size-fits-all approach. Not giving careful consideration to who the consumer actually is, their journey, how the ad will be used, where it will be seen and what action it is likely to produce, can prove costly and in some cases irreversible.
At the end of the day, Millennials comprise a wide swatch (18-34) on their own, but to ignore the significant portion of Gen C that falls outside of the age group will render any marketing effort less effective. Targeting Gen C through specific tactics means looking beyond Millennials and conquering a state of mind instead.