Just when you thought you had Baby Boomers and Gen Xers figured out, here comes another emerging demographic group – one that you’ll certainly need to understand if you plan on doing business with the next generation of consumers.

Generation C, the so-called “connected generation,” has come of age with technology intimately woven into their lives – the Internet, mp3 players, smartphones and more. The majority of their social interactions take place online, where they tend to form active communities and gravitate toward social media sites where they feel free to express their opinions. Ironically, they all have mobile phones, yet they prefer sending text messages to actually talking with people.

Moving Beyond Birthdays

Unlike Gen Xers and the Baby Boomers before them, this newly recognized group cannot be defined solely by birth date.

U.K. marketing strategist Jake Pearce sagely notes that a 50+ Baby Boomer who is heavily into Facebook or YouTube could certainly qualify for membership in Generation C. On the other hand, a 20-something who has not jumped on the content creation or social media bandwagon might not be part of Generation C.

Are You Ready?

If it is, indeed, true that the wireless device will become the dominant tool for trade, the arrival of Generation C will have an impact comparable to that of the Industrial Revolution. Ultimately, companies that perceive these changes as opportunities – as opposed to threats – will succeed in the coming, connected future.

Claim your space. As 24/7 connectivity transforms the retail industry, you’ll need to develop a strong presence on sites such as Facebook and Yelp. Viral marketing and social networks will become critical for brand awareness and customer preferences. At the same time, peer reviews will become a real-time decision-making tool.

Communicate visually. Generation C would much rather see than read (YouTube is the fourth most-visited website on the Internet). Instead of traditional print materials, roll out your next product debut, branding message or instructional manual via an engaging online video.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Forecasters predict 6 billion mobile users by 2020. More notable, they expect the number of people accessing the Internet to hit 4.7 billion – primarily through their mobile devices.

Make it easy to find you. Add one of those square barcodes (i.e., a QR code) to your company’s ads, marketing materials and business cards, and anyone with a smart phone and a QR app can scan it and be directed to a website or online bio. You can create your own QR codes at free QR code-generating sites such as https://qrstuff.com or https://quikqr.com.

Start a (truthful) conversation. To successfully tap Generation C consumers, you’ll need to start talking with them via a social media dialog, instead of talking at them as you do with traditional advertising. Ultimately, it’s all about establishing trust and understanding the simple fact that people would much rather do business with those whom they and their friends know, trust and recommend.