Reaching the continually connected: Marketing to Gen C

We’ve seen endless articles about how to market to Millennials. But how about the younger cohort right behind them, Gen C, the “connected generation”? This is the group (those born after 1998) that won’t be able to comprehend life before the Internet and won’t even remember life before the smartphone or tablet. Email will be for “old people,” and touch screens will be the norm.

This generation will push even farther the principles we are just starting to master to connect with Millennials. This group turns 18 in just 4 years.  Will you be ready to reach them? Some things to consider:

Forget Facebook. Well maybe not completely, time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: To reach this audience, you’ll need to go beyond the “social staples”. The social landscape is fracturing (again), and now that Mom is there “friending” them, teens will look to other platforms to connect. Tumbler. Pinterest. Path. These may or may not be the right ones for your target; the key is to do your homework to find where they are most active — and continue to monitor because it will change and evolve.

Prepare for the 4th and 5th screens. Thanks to evolving telematics, the 4th screen will be in the car. Already, manufacturers like Audi and Ford are far along in developing in-car platforms that will deliver personalized information to enhance the ride for both the passenger and the driver. Wondering what retail stores may suit your taste on the street you are driving down? Want to find the best pizza in the vicinity? Need to know the fastest rush-hour route to your destination based on current traffic patterns? In the not-too-distant future, it may be your car making recommendations. It will be incumbent on brands to figure out how they can add value to the in-car experience without jeopardizing the safety (or sanity) of the driver.

The 5th screen will be in retail.  Many retailers are already experimenting with interactive screens in-store to deliver personalized recommendations, “virtual try-on” options, or an “endless aisle.”  The “5th screen” space will not likely be limited to just touch screen kiosks, but will need to include augmented reality to show off inventory that may not physically be in the store, recommend products that may best fit personal style and body type, or provide basic way-finding through a store.

Think 360°. Forget marketing matching luggage. Or specialty silos. We’ll be challenged to design campaigns that work across multiple platforms in a way that truly leverages the strengths of each channel. Those who master “multiplex marketing” that encourages iPad/tablet use while watching TV (or other streaming video), feeds off social interaction, and contains mobile elements that users can activate via screens outdoors or in retail will be the ones who capture the ADD attention of Gen C. In addition, Gen C uses technology as a tool to explore its desires, wants, and needs, so as marketers we need to be there and not just with a traditional search strategy. A move to a 360° perspective also means a move away from the traditional “pulse” campaign approach to the philosophy of being “always-on”.

Keep in mind this is a generation with an expectation of immediate interactivity; flat TV ads will be lost on them. Use all the marketing channels and hooks at your disposal — multiple screens, mobile, social, location-based — to capture and allow Gen C to participate as well as share. Which leads to the next point …

Put their creativity to work for you. Gen C’ers are often adept at making and editing their own video before they are even out of middle school. By the time they become adults, Forrester’s famous Social Technographics Ladder will be turned on its head. Gen C thrives on creative expression and the feedback it generates. No topic or concept is too personal for Gen C to explore. Figure out how to harness this creative energy in a way that values and respects this young talent. Create the right parameters, then put them in the driver’s seat. The opportunity will drive greater interest and participation than traditional “lean back” marketing.

Hyper-personalize it. Personalization doesn’t mean sticking a name in the first line of an email that Gen C will never read. The generation that expects immediate interactivity will also demand the ultimate personalization. Jaded by marketing, they will need to be convinced of why what you are selling is relevant to their particular areas of interest. To succeed, you’ll need to figure out how to allow Gen C’ers to customize product offerings or bundles to suit their needs.

These are just a few ways marketers will need to rethink reaching the next generation. Most importantly, we’ll need to break our own silos between traditional and digital, social and mobile, CRM and mass to effectively reach this target.

Anna Banks is Executive Director, Strategy at Organic

This byline was originally posted on VentureBeat here.



Here are eight media trends we’re tracking right now. Some are right on the cusp of becoming mainstream and others still have a bit to cook before breaking the surface. What patterns are you observing in the media world and what do you think will be the next big thing? Let us know in the comments below.

1. Targeted, Geo-Mobile Coupons

When Foursquare started garnering press coverage in 2009, co-founder Dennis Crowley confessed his dream was to one day know users well enough to target smart coupons on the fly. He wanted to send push notifications that essentially said, “We know you like pizza, and it’s dinner time right now. Pizza Place X, two blocks away, has a special.”

That day has finally come. With 1.5 billion check-ins, 750 thousand merchants, 20 million users and millions of geo-tagged tips, Foursquare now has the ability to deliver hyper-relevant coupons to its users. I just started getting them and they’ve been surprisingly accurate.

LevelUp and other mobile services are digifying the in-person coupon space as well. We expect this field to mature rapidly now that geodata infrastructure is in place and half of all U.S. mobile phones are smartphones.

2. Audio Watermarking

Technology for embedding subliminal signals in audio — digital sound waves humans cannot consciously detect — is being used to track data and connect digital devices in increasingly clever ways. New York-based startup Sonic Notify, for example, built technology that allows television shows such as Bravo’s Top Chef to invisibly activate a viewer’s smartphone or tablet with related content while watching.

As audio watermarking becomes more mainstream (and consumers acclimate to the idea), opportunities for mobile content integration at events and retail stores will arise faster than you can play a Beatles record backwards.

3. Passive Location-Based Networking



According to social media data collected by Tracx, the top 3 buzziest startups at SXSW 2012 were all in-person networking apps: HighlightGlancee, and Sonar.

Highlight was the most popular by far, gaining 300% more buzz than any of its peers. Its hook is that it’s completely passive: Users allow the app to track their locations throughout the day, then when other Highlight users (friends, potential connections) are nearby, it shows both parties the nearby user’s info.

Though buzz was high, the big question around this trend is whether the utility of such apps will outweigh the privacy concerns (and battery drain). There’s certainly competition in the space, so we’re likely to see a lot of movement around this concept this year.

4. Motion Tracking and Facial Recognition for Intention Data

CBS‘s hit series Person of Interest called this one last September. As facial recognition and motion tracking tech becomes more accurate and less expensive, the ability to digitally divine real-world intent is coming into our grasp.

Interpublic Group, for example, has a laboratory in Manhattan where Xbox Kinects, flatscreens and fake grocery aisles come together for some serious spying. When you pick up a box of Pop Tarts, the motion sensors track your face to see if you’re smiling or frowning about what you see. Screens then output data on how long you’ve lingered in front of a particular product, and ads trigger based on your gender (which cameras infer) and what objects you’re touching.

All this will help product marketers deliver better experiences. Once we get past the “creep-out phase,” consumers will likely start expecting — and appreciating — such personalization in their everyday shopping ventures.

5. Automatic Social Media-Activated Discounts



Handing a coupon to the waiter after a meal can be embarrassing for customers and time-consuming for employees. American Express has figured out how to bypass both challenges using social media.

The credit card company recently launched Twitter and Foursquare integrations that allow cardholders to sync their plastic with a social account, then take advantage of in-store coupons with no more effort than a tweet or check-in.

For example, many Foursquare locations have “$5 Off” AmEx specials. If a user checks into a location with the special and uses an AmEx card, the store’s credit card machine pings AmEx, which verifies check-in with Foursquare and then credits $5 to the user’s card.

6. Brands Building Publications and Entertainment Channels

“We’re all publishers” is a trite phrase by now, but big brands are starting to take the mantra seriously. With budgets behind them and no advertising to worry about, companies are building media properties meant to compete with TV stations and magazines.

Red Bull’s homepage, for example, looks like an action-sports news site. The company pumps out professional-grade news articles, feature stories and videos each day, pushing them to social marketing channels such as Facebook and Twitter. This fuels the company’s social media accounts with content and points followers back to Red Bull’s site, rather than elsewhere on the Internet.

Fashion companies are especially keen on building publications to compete with traditional media. Several have even reported that building entire publications is no more expensive than advertising. A look at the sites ofTory Burch and Kate Spade show where these brands are investing their efforts.

7. TV on the Internet

The Thursday Night TV lineup’s days are numbered.

Barry Diller, the media mogul who greenlit The Simpsons while running Fox in the ’80s, thinks broadcast television is the next big disruption in media. As we’ve seen with music, Internet users want to consume individual pieces of content — tracks, not albums; episodes, not box sets. They want to pick and choose, and they want their content online, not attached to a cable TV plan.

Diller’s latest project, Aereo, puts live broadcast TV on the Internet. It’s the next step to cutting the coaxial cable entirely.

8. Mobile, Immersive Reality

Digital technology allows us to be in one place while experiencing another. Skype and FaceTime connect people across the world, in person. The next evolution of this is immersive video and augmented reality.

Google is developing augmented reality glasses, which would enable wearers to view data layered over real life. A startup called Condition One makes iPad video apps that let the tablet holder move around a faraway scene, like a battlefield. There’s even R&D happening to create video-enabled contact lenses.

TronThe Terminator and The Matrix, here we come.


The Web Is Dead?

“Instead of couch potatoes you’ll have app-potatoes,” predicted Giacomo Mazzone, head of institutional relations for the European Broadcasting Union.

“I have to admit the ‘open’ Web is certainly changing—just ask the 750 million people on the anti-Web, also known as Facebook,” noted David Ellis, director of communication studies at York University.

There is disagreement on whether the browser-based Web will survive. Technology consultant and author Stowe Boyd expects it will be replaced by the app-based model of Web access. “Platform companies—especially Apple and Google—are moving to new meta-architecture principles, such as tablets, touch, and gestural interfaces, ubiquitous connectivity, and social networking,” he noted. “These are being baked into the core platforms.”

William Schrader, a consultant and founder of PSINet, said, “The Web and the apps will be one and the same. The app, if accessed by a large screen (formerly known as a computer) will automatically slide into a large-screen mode to allow more advertising and ease of reading, navigation, and additional information. The webpage will sense when the user leaves the computer and transfer the same information to the departing user’s smartphone (or other device).”

“The experience when you visit a webpage and the experience when using an app will converge, possibly to the point where there is little practical difference,” argued Mark Watson, senior engineer for Netflix.

Adds Rob Scott, chief technology officer for Nokia: “Once HTML5 browsers and fully capable Web runtimes are in place on the common Kindle through iPhone, the Web app will begin replacing native apps.”

Researcher Brian Trammell of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said, “The Web is already moving toward a delivery platform for AJAX/Javascript/Flash ‘apps’ masquerading as websites.

Tony Smith of the Open Source Developers Club in Melbourne, Australia said as much: “Both will continue to grow in ways that are impossible for most to imagine…. Apps are generally better for narrowly defined repetitive tasks, especially where your needs can be narrowed by your location, time, etc. The Web will remain better for asynchronous exploring and continue its gateway role.”

Many anonymous responders challenged the structure of the apps-Web question. Among their arguments: The world ahead is not either apps or the Web. A more hybrid world is likely. Moreover, the tussle between controlled content and user experiences on the one hand and openness on the other hand will play out in other ways. 

Janna Quitney Anderson, Elon University

Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

March 23, 2012


Email ideas

  1. Links From Around the Web
  2. Audience Q&A
  3. Industry Tops
  4. Hidden Dangers
  5. Trade Secrets
  6. Teardown
  7. Event Roundup
  8. The Sh*t List
  9. Audience Showcase
  10. The Myth of…
  11. The How-To
  12. Quarter in Review

Top five regrets of the dying

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”


Beware the Social Con Trick

Getting data out of Facebook is extremely tricky, and a lot of brands are finding that having millions of people ‘liking’ them provides very little hard return on investment, as less than 0.5% ever re-visit the company page.

But even though many early adopters of social media aren’t getting the expected ROI, the shrewd ones are. They’re the people who realized early on that the secret to social media success is to build and maintain your own community, and use Facebook and Twitter as recruitment channels to get people into your own domain.

This in turn calls for delivering a very different user experience from a normal corporate website.  Not only does it need five nines availability, instant scalability for spikes in traffic, it will also need a much higher degree of management, as well as a sophisticated CMS to enable user generated content.

Social media will become a key part of a company’s DNA. We believe passionately that it should be an integral part of every outward facing person’s job role, and that you can’t outsource it. But you can learn from the mistakes of others when setting up your systems and processes.

Social media is all about sentiment, so you’re going to need textual analysis to warn you when someone posts a gripe, as well as CRM and BI to understand your fans preferences, and tailor offers to catch their interest. You’ll need ‘sentiment analysis’ to be able to see not just what your own community is saying within your own domain, but also monitor the background chatter about your business on the web.

Even though a lot of people are adopting a wait and see approach, the smart ones are looking carefully at what they might need, working with sales and marketing to understand how their roles are changing, and designing infrastructures that will support them both today and for the foreseeable future.

By Peter Smith, managing partner of the Hot To Trot Marketing Group, one of the UK’s foremost social media consultancies.