Just when you think you have a grip on demographic marketing along comes Generation C.
Actually Gen C is not new—Brian Solis first introduced businesses to the “Connected Customer” in 2012, but many small businesses haven’t yet embraced Gen C, which says Solis, “is not limited to one group or demographic. Demographic marketing is based on age, income, etc.” But Solis’s research on the rise of social media and mobile found that psychographics mattered more. Gen C is more defined by interests, behaviors, and the resources they demand. “It’s not an age group; it’s a lifestyle,” explains Solis, adding “Generation C is anyone relying on tech.”
Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet. He’s an award-winning author, writer, and keynote speaker. His latest book Lifescale talks about how our devices distract us. I talked to Solis about Generation C and why small business owners need to reach out to them
Rieva Lesonsky: What changes have you seen in Generation C since you first defined it?
Brian Solis: Mobile and social media have become even more profound—and consumers are much more connected. But many [businesses] haven’t embraced the concept yet.
Rieva Lesonsky: You say businesses aren’t in control of the touchpoints anymore—that consumers are “more empowered and creative and resourceful.” How do you get business es to recognize this?
Solis: [Businesses] need to think differently about catering to this group. Open-minded ones understand they’re dealing with a different, more connected type of customer.
And there’s a new generation of businesses—the innovators and disrupters coming into play. Companies like Uber, Postmates and DoorDash. They operate with speed and sophistication and have introduced new dynamics built around providing convenience, speed, value and personalization. Those are the pillars of experience for Gen C.
These innovators are disrupting all industries. They broke the mold, raised the bar and set new standards. Once customers experience these standards, they don’t want to go back. The new experience becomes the new standard.
And that’s the hardest part [for businesses]. Consumers base their next moves on their past experiences. Take Amazon and two-day shipping. Once customers experience it, they’re not going back. Their expectations have changed. Now, they consider two-day shipping the new standard.
Lesonsky: What are the common characteristics of Generation C?
Solis: Generation C is demanding, impatient and accidentally narcissistic. The world revolves around them and their devices. It’s all about speed. They consider impatience a virtue. [These] are their touchpoints, and we need to meet their expectations.
Lesonsky: Yet many businesses haven’t embraced the concept?
Solis: Most small businesses still operate from that traditional mindset. They’re trying to be the best chai latte place. That’s not good enough. They need to be the best chia latte place consumers find and love.
When Yelp first started there was a natural resistance to it among local business owners—they didn’t want people talking [negatively] about their businesses. They saw Yelp as a threat, not an opportunity to see what people think about their businesses.
When companies like DoorDash came along many restaurants wanted to pull away. They didn’t see the growth [possibilities]. They thought their job was to put butts in seats. They didn’t realize their job was also to put food in the bellies of people not sitting in their restaurants. They need to reset and ask ‘Do we need a bigger kitchen. Should we open another kitchen to serve these new customers?’
Lesonsky: How can a small business reach Generation C?
Solis: Mobile has made consumers even more self-centered. They’re searching for the ‘best…for me’. Many go on Facebook and Twitter and ask, ‘what’s the best…’ and let the lazy web solve it for them. Businesses need to cater to customers who have different needs. Small business owners need to find Generation C. Go where they go.
The internet has changed how consumers buy. This online decision-making is what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). [This is “the moment in the buying process when the consumer researches a product prior to purchase.”]
For Generation C it’s about the ultimate moment of truth, about sharing their experiences. Consumers will make different [buying] decisions based on others’ connecting the dots back to their [ZMOT].
Lesonsky: How can small businesses adapt?
Solis: It can be a challenge to [change their] mindset. But they need to be part of the discovery process. They have to become a new type of business owner. Become an innovator. And many aren’t ready for that.
We live in a time when it’s not good enough to have just a good business; you need to have an exceptional business where people connect and share their experiences, whether good or bad. It’s not about offering great service. You need to offer exceptional service people want to talk about.
Experiences are going to be shared whether good or bad. That share is the ultimate moment of truth, which becomes the next person’s zero moment of truth.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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