In Part 1 we discussed how some of the most recent cultural touch points—groups riding the underground buzz on YouTube; MySpace selling music from indie bands; and the "skinny jeans" fashion trend—show a new market code at work. The young, tech-savvy members of the Connected Generation are rewriting the rules and changing how everyone will do business.
In our new book, Mind Your X's and Y's, we outline 10 cravings that are driving this renegade new generation of consumers. Part one explored the first five cravings: for extreme personalization, adventure, loose social networks, brilliant design, and smart editors. Before we move on to the last five, there are two critical principles to understand about the Connected Generation.
Reconstructing the Market
When a band goes from dancing on treadmills in a low-budget video clip to performing for the MTV Video Music Awards in a matter of weeks, you know there's a change in the air. Clearly, underground trends and finds have always filtered their way from the fringes into the mainstream—especially if you're talking fashion or music. What's different today is that the Connected Generation is completely sidestepping the mainstream. Thanks to tightly knit peer networks and online technology, indie bands, for example, don't need to sign record deals. They can build a fan base on MySpace, pack their local shows, and post pay-per-download digital files. No middleman, no loss of control.
The new marketplace favors connected brands with three essential components—community, content, and commerce. Think about MySpace again. This popular networking portal has content (teens and young adults posting their profiles, uploading photos, writing blogs, and sharing messages), community (a dedicated group of users who visit multiple times each day and conduct vast portions of their lives online), and now, with its music sales, commerce. The brand is unstoppable.
To crack this new market code and understand the 10 cravings, we studied hundreds of brands that are experiencing runaway success. From Toyota's Scion to Jones Soda to Wikipedia and beyond, these are the products, services, and organizations that are attracting an unprecedented degree of buzz and customer loyalty.
We found that the most successful brands not only complete the three-part business model—community, content, and commerce—but also have implemented a "pull" philosophy in their sales and marketing efforts.
The "go big, go loud, go often" approach just doesn't cut it with the Connected Generation, which is all but immune to traditional advertising. If the technology to block out unwanted marketing messages does not already exist (such as TiVo and podcasts), they will create it. But, they will pull in anything that is fun or interesting and adds value to their busy lives.
The Connected Generation desires peer-like relationships with the brands they love. Treat them with respect, satisfy their cravings, and they will respond with unmatched enthusiasm and spread the word faster and farther than ever before.
Here are the last five cravings that drive this powerful new consumer group:
6. Keep it underground: The rejection of push advertising and the rising influence of peer-to-peer networks
The Connected Generation has grown up feeling saturated with advertising and marketing. They are suspicious of ordinary "push" campaigns and gravitate toward integrated, contextual offerings from trusted friends and members of their networks.
A select group of people discovers something new, from shoes to bands to politics to neighborhoods, and translates it to satisfy a much wider audience. This is the way of the underground.
7. Build it together: Connected citizens explore their creative power and influence change
There are currently one billion people connected online around the world. With so many people conducting large portions of their lives online, we've only just begun to tap into the power of Web-based networks.
The Connected Generation is becoming intoxicated by its growing ability to spark change—both as consumer groups and as end users. This awareness is spurring mass creativity and launching a power shift away from companies and into the hands of consumers.
8. Bring it to life: Everyday activities are orchestrated to deliver a dramatic sense of theater
From beverages to designer fashions to dinnertime solutions, brand theater is popping up in virtually every industry as savvy companies deliver compelling and entertaining new experiences.
Brand theater allows companies of all kinds to create emotional connections with their customers. It takes typical experiences a few steps forward by engaging the senses, the imagination, and the spirit, and transforms routine experiences into riveting entertainment.
9. Go inward: Spiritual hunger and modern media find common ground
Increasingly, the meaningful life is defined as the spiritual life, and spirituality has become a dominant value among today's consumers. Companies and media channels are introducing new products, services, and forums to support this spiritually hungry generation. The Connected Generation has embraced modern media and blurred the lines between secular and sacred, finding spirituality in all aspects of their lives.
10. Give back: Redefining volunteerism and the meaning of contribution
There's a new spirit of volunteerism in the air, led by a young Connected Generation that has new ideas about how to give back. Today's volunteers want to give their time and talent instead of simply writing a check. Modern volunteer associations combine fresh structures with fun people and a chance to make direct, meaningful connections with the community. These new giving models are igniting a generation and making their volunteer efforts convenient, high impact, and more emotionally satisfying.
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