The Connected Consumer: Who Are We Talking About?

connected consumerThe term ‘connected consumer’ pops up on virtually every blog that covers social media and digital marketing. As usual, the danger is that in the end everyone talks about something different when using the term. Furthermore, it’s important to understand the connected consumer and his connected customer journey if you want to serve him well. So, here is what you should know about that connected consumer.

Everyone understands what the word ‘connected’ means so let’s skip that part. While I’m writing this, I’m looking at a book in my ‘library’, called ‘Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution’ published in 2005 and written by Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden.

Unfortunately, for the authors, we don’t often talk about ‘connected marketing’ but about ‘social media marketing’ (too bad, really, since the latter term emphasizes the media too much).

The connected consumer and connected devices

It’s obvious that people are more connected via digital channels and hubs of common interest nowadays. It’s also clear that we use more connected devices. In a 2010 overview of the usage of connected devices, The Nielsen Company, used the term ‘connected consumer’ in that context (PDF opens, slideshare below).

In May 2011, IBM released a report, called “The connected consumer challenge” (PDF opens, slideshare below).

Here as well, the focus was on the adoption of connected devices and the consequences.

So, is there a…connection between the connected consumer and the increasing use of connected devices (and platforms)? Yes, most certainly. Wait a minute: isn’t everyone a connected consumer? Yes, of course. Even my dad, who has no Internet, is a connected consumer: he gets influenced and influences other consumers as well. He’s a consumer and he’s connected.

But that’s not how we use the term ‘connected consumer’ today. It’s also less about connected devices and more about a specific group of consumers. Sometimes we even talk about the ‘hyper-connected’ consumers. They are consumers that are…more connected than the connected ones. Still follow? OK, time for another slideshare.

Personal networks of trust and Generation C

In 2009, Razorfish, always good for excellent reports, released ‘The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report’. In the summary below you will notice Razorfish speaks about the connected consumers as people who embrace social media and actively build their own trusted personal networks, among others.

It’s clear there is a new breed of consumers who are very connected in that sense. They know what they want, they are – more than others – in control over their buying journey and the ways they interact with businesses. They want great customer experiences, demand you to be relevant, find and share information in new ways and show the behavior of Generation Y: connected and online.
Meet The Connected Consumer

In “The End of Business As Usual”, Brian Solis calls them Generation C. As he says on his blog it’s “…anyone who places increasing emphasis on technology as part of their daily routine…their behavior mimics that of Millennials and as a result, they prove elusive or immune to traditional marketing and service”.

Multitasking and multiscreen, always on, engaged in a cross-platform way, mobile, predominantly female, connected, different and empowered. That’s Generation C.

Do you have to focus all your marketing efforts on Generation C? Of course not. You still have your ‘less connected’ customers to service well too.

From disconnected to connected

However, the ‘connected consumer’ is there and by understanding what he wants and acting upon it, new opportunities arise. In order to turn them into action, you need to understand how Generation C connects and know the connected consumer decides differently.

And obviously, you need to really understand them, listen and act in relevant ways. But, then again, that goes for all consumers and how often aren’t we still disconnected from them?

More data on the connected consumer in the sense of ‘Generation C’ in this blog post by Brian Solis. Do you have to focus all your marketing efforts on Generation C? Of course not. You still have your ‘less connected’ customers to service well too. And all customers are connected in a cross-channel way nowadays. Look at those touchpoints and you’ll see why. And focus on regaining their trust.

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