Generation C: The Ageless Target

On a recent visit with my parents, I dropped this tongue-in-cheek bombshell: “Marketers don’t care about you, or your Baby Boomer cohorts anymore. We only care about Millennials. Sorry guys.”​

Rather than being offended, my father replied with an equally tongue-in-cheek retort: “Good. Now maybe I’ll stop getting bombarded with emails from companies that I’ve never heard of, or even like.”

Our exchange centers around an interesting change that has been occurring for the past few years – marketers are indeed focusing their attention on this younger generation of consumers. It’s not surprising either, as the media has consistently foretold of the rise of the largest, most motivated generation that has the highest buying power. Capturing Millennials’ attention is akin to harpooning a marketing white whale.

But as Millennials begin to softly realize these projections, it’s becoming apparent that this generation might not be the be-all, end-all target audience for marketers. In fact, using “Millennials” as your target audience could prove to be a lazy and damaging tactic for future work. You simply cannot group Millennials together in a singular sample.

For starters, Millennials are extremely diverse – and not just in the demographic sense. With their increased numbers come an incredibly high number of sub-sets and psychographic differentiators within their ranks. One look at the stratification of their musical, culinary and fashion tastes, and understanding “their” tastes becomes clear as mud.​

That's a massive leap in ages, in cultural tastes, and in life milestones.

Secondly, the definition of what constitutes a Millennial varies greatly from person-to-person and brand-to-brand. For some, this group includes those born between 1980 and 2004. For others, a more nebulous descriptor of “born after 1982, and came of age around the year 2000” is used. In each instance, you’re talking about a group whose ages range from their early teens to 30-somethings. That’s a massive leap in ages, in cultural tastes, and in life milestones.

These discrepancies are what make a concept like the Connected Generation, or Generation C, a more viable option for audience targeting. Rather than being defined by their age, this “generation” is grouped together by their habits and predilections. And while Google boasts that over 65% of this cohort is under the age of 35, you can find members of every generation (including Boomers) within C’s ranks.​

Obviously, the “C” in their moniker comes from their habit of being connected at all times. They consume media, interact with the world, and share content through a variety of platforms and devices to the point where it is second nature. They are highly-engaged, and are truly a force to be reckoned with. The onus falls on marketers to keep their attention.

Now, Gen C isn’t a new concept. In fact, there are already a stable of brands and companies that are successfully reaching out to this group and reaping the benefits of targeting a mindset rather than a demographic. The key is to avoid alienating potential consumers through the use misguided creative work that is pandering to a specific age group.​

Highly-connected consumers happen to come in all shapes, sizes and ages.​​

Millennials will continue their growth into the largest generational force in history, and will still capture the attention of marketers and brands. But smart brands will understand that highly-connected consumers happen to come in all shapes, sizes and ages.​