Presented here is a guide to understanding the mindset and expectations of this newly defined consumer.
1. Authenticity Trumps Celebrity: Consumer 2.0 responds to honest, relevant messaging from peers over marketing speak and celebrity endorsement. Not surprisingly, they increasingly trust recommendations from fellow consumers. In a recent SurveyU study, only 15% of college students agreed that a celebrity's endorsement of a product would influence their opinion of that brand.
2. Niche Is the New Norm: Consumers 2.0 do not form a mass market. They relish in choices and look for products and services that speak to them personally. This is a generation that simply doesn't follow a common path - they are more committed to following their hearts than a path pre-established for them by their parents, school or community. They are a generation that doesn't feel forced to a universal definition of cool but feels free to pursue their interests. As technology continues to bring the world closer together, people will increasingly associate themselves with people and groups that share a common bond.
3. Bite-Size Communications Dominate: Consumer 2.0 digests short, personal and highly relevant messaging in bulk while growing increasingly adept at blocking out noise. While adults send three emails for every text message, teens almost completely flip the ratio with 2.5 texts for every email. Now, technologies like Twitter are transmitting these communications across groups of people. Having grown up with the Internet, Consumer 2.0 is trained to multi-task and will at best provide divided attention. Communications need to reflect that.
4. Personal Utility Drives Adoption: Consumer 2.0 chooses to consume what they find useful in their lives over manufactured marketing needs. According to a recent SurveyU study, 78% of college students feel that people place too much emphasis on brands. Certainly, the brand still plays a key role in some categories but, increasingly, that will continue to wane as customers place more importance on products that meet their needs and have many more outlets for learning about new products from trusted sources.
5. Consumers Own Brands: Consumer 2.0 will speak about, repurpose and associate with your brand as they see fit. Empowered by new technologies, they require a larger voice in the brands they champion, helping to create and reinvent products and communications. They will increasingly write about products through blogs and product reviews and participate in online discussions. Marketers must focus on reaching and impressing their core vocal consumers in order to substantiate other marketing claims and spread to new consumers.
Shifting ad dollars to "new media" is not enough and will leave marketers short of their goals. Marketers need to demand that their marketing teams and agencies answer the right questions and deliver the right results (hint: not impressions).
They should begin focusing on the number and depth of engagements they have with consumers and the propensity their consumers have for recommending their product or service to others.
Listening closely to your consumers and engaging them in deeper, two-way relationships is a great start. Paired with an understanding of Consumer 2.0, marketers will be better equipped to navigate their businesses through unprecedented change. After all, Consumer 3.0 probably isn't far behind.
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Great question. We actually do not specify an age when discussing Consumer 2.0. There are many factors far more important than age in determining if consumers fit this new profile. In particular, we do a ton of work with moms as this group is highly networked, actively seeks out and shares information online and is looking for technology to help keep them connected and make their lives easier.
Speaking as one of the members of this Generation Y, I find some things that are wrong with this article.
"1. Authenticity Trumps Celebrity" I think what's missing is that its more about picking what kind of celebrity than it is about not liking celebrities at all. Gone are the days when you could pick any random celeb and make millions. Now you actually have to take some care. People actually look at the intelligence and value of a celebrity. People my age step behind celebrities that have a brain - Al Gore, Steve Jobs, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Scarlet Johansson, Beyonce, Grant Achatz, Padma Lakshmi, Alton Brown, Mariska Hargitay - and will not be behind others that lack those abilities. Yes, they will get attention, i.e. the Hilton sisters, Lindsay Lohan, the Simpson sisters, etc - but the effect will not last and long-term will hurt your brand. We've all seen them on TMZ and Perez Hilton - we know how idiotic or how smart these celebrities are and we don't trust them blindly.
"3. Bite-Size Communications Dominate" and "5. Consumers Own Brands:" Yes, but only under certain circumstances. Nothing irks me more than when a brand suddenly goes to the "too small" version of communication. Not all of us speak in l33t, not all of us abbreviate everything we say, and not everyone texts 24/7. At the same time, we're not going to do your work for you. As seen with the Skittles campaign, it can rapidly turn ugly because we can tell when something is not being led and we are expected to do ALL of the work.
I have to admit - I love reading blogs and people's reviews of products. The 80s, when I was a child, were filled with marketing messages and we grew up with that. As people of my generation got older, we realized our parents used Downey not because it cleaned well, but because it was the ad they grew up with for softener.
I think the thing that is missing here is that this people my age have our own schedule for marketing. False senses of urgency are not something we respond to - I've seen that commercial for Shamwow enough times that the "for the next hour, we can offer this" makes me laugh, rather than respond. We watch tv and read blogs and do things when we feel like doing them, not when the advertisers might have intended it to be done. We may see an ad one day and take action, or we may see the same ad and not take action for a week. If the brand changes its message in that time, it rings false and we reject it. We've also grown up with more stores open 24/7, and instant gratification shopping online - if a store isn't convenient to our hours, it won't get our business because we're not about to change course just for a store. If a store doesn't carry a product we want, we go online and get it from where it is available.
I also think the green aspect is more important to members of my generation than in the past. We grew up with Earth Day, Al Gore, Greenpeace, and the WWF. We've seen the destruction in the rainforest, and we've seen countless manmade ecological disasters. We're much more willing to change than in the past if we know something is harming the environment. Our parents picked up the green movement mid life, and some still haven't changed. Almost everyone I know has made at least one change because of environmental causes.