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Regardless of your career description or geography, it's a safe bet you've heard these headlines:

  • MySpace—the highly addictive online social networking venue dominated by teens and young adults—will soon give iTunes a run for its (considerable) money by selling digital songs from approximately 3 million independent bands.

  • The Chicago band OK Go ascended from relative anonymity to international fame at lighting speed and recently performed its song, "Here It Goes Again," at the MTV Video Music Awards. The group's funny, low-budget treadmill dance routine became one of the most popular videos on the YouTube Web site.

  • Women in dressing rooms nationwide are wriggling into skinny jeans this fall and asking themselves, "do these make my hips look big?" Previously the uniform of rockers and avant-garde artists, drainpipe denims have now hit suburban shopping malls from coast to coast.

It would be easy to dismiss these tidbits as random pieces of pop culture—merely passing trends, business moves, and marketing plans. But there's a very real code at work behind the headlines. There's a new group of renegade, passionate consumers who are changing the rules of the marketplace: Meet the Connected Generation.

A Brave New Market

Baby Boomers may still hold the purse strings, but these savvy 18-40-year-olds are changing the way all of us do business. It doesn't matter whether you're a rock band, a fashion designer, a nonprofit organization, or a sporting goods outlet, you and your team need to understand what makes the Connected Generation tick.

Why the Connected Generation? They're connected to technology and their social networks around the clock. They're all but immune to traditional advertising and will only pull in the products and services that they want. In fact, this group of primarily Gen X and Y consumers has 10 highly specific cravings that drive their behavior.

The news tidbits from the beginning of this story provide evidence of just a few of those cravings—underground information, brilliant design, loose community ties, and in-the-know editors and filters—at work in the marketplace. Below are the first five of the 10 cravings outlined in our new book, Mind Your X's and Y's: Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation of Consumers, from Simon & Schuster's Free Press. Watch for the next five in an upcoming article.

1. Shine the spotlight: Extreme personalization gives marketing a new face

The Connected Generation is clamoring for personal recognition. They're itching to stand out, stand up, and be celebrated with their names in lights (or print or pixels). Brands that tap into this powerful need with highly creative efforts will get not only great buzz, but a whole new level of loyalty and brand ownership to match.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson (lisa@reachwomen.com) is the CEO of ReachWomen (www.reachwomen.com). She is also a coauthor of Don't Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy—And How to Increase Your Share of this Crucial Market (AMACOM, 2004).

Cheri Hanson is cofounder of the Reach Group (www.reachgroupconsulting.com), a boutique consultancy that provides fresh insights and clear thinking about the Connected Generation. With three divisions—ReachWomen, Reach X and Y, and Content Strategy—the Reach Group provide tools for engaging the modern marketplace.