Late in 2007, Gartner, Inc. announced they had identified their first generation without an age, gender, social demographic or geography. This generation will leave “traditional ways of selling to customers, based on demographic information…irrelevant in an online world.” Say hello to Generation Virtual, or Generation V (GenV).
We have been discovered in the way the Native Americans discovered Columbus. (“Hey, we were waiting for you! No…not really”).
With subsequent releases of this find by Gartner, it seems few are paying attention. Well, at least we have a cool name, even if some marketing execs are putting their hands over their ears and going “la-la-la.” We are recognized as the teens to 60-something year olds and beyond who buy a lot and buy differently.
According to Gartner principal analyst Adam Sarner, companies will have to shift from one-to-one marketing to marketing to the way people influence and follow the influence of others. “Companies will need to shift from collecting personal data about individual customers toward collecting more-complete and more-relevant data around online customer behavior and influence on others,” Mr. Sarner said. “Companies will need new processes, new skills and a restructuring of how data is collected and used as they shift from demographic to psychographic insight.”
Standard mailing lists based on a variety of demographic segments can be thrown out the window. Response rates are changing. Every few weeks, Direct Marketing News reports more direct mail companies are cutting staff. [15Aug08]. Now DMN reports that Cox is planning to divest themselves of the direct mail ValPak division.
Kudos to Gartner who realized many of us prefer to buy anonymously and believe “bots” that identify the behavior we are using will be a better way to deliver what we want.
You have to wonder: if psychographic insight will be used, are you a bit nervous about the data collection methods and which databases of behaviors will be correlated with what buying databases? That will be a topic for another day.
Gartner is pretending not to be frustrated that few are listening. I’m sure many some a few are, but more are not. Many must just be trying to get through the current economic “issues.”
Gartner warned about the coming of eCommerce and the Internet, and saw too many companies virtually drive off the cliff. They are warning about the marketing tide changing, and three different companies that I called had “no plans to react to Generation V, if it exists” – as one put it.
I hope the business community is listening. As Gartner predicts, this generation “will have a profound influence on culture, society and business. Companies must change their practices to begin targeting this rapidly emerging segment of engaged consumers.” They suggest a strategy that addresses four levels of customer engagement: creators, contributors, opportunists and lurkers.
Wayne Kurtzman is a senior marketing analyst who loves the shiny toys of technology and online communities. He has led knowledge management and web analytics practices for startups and larger companies including Intel. Wayne also is active at the international level of Destination ImagiNation, a not-for-profit organization that fosters teamwork, innovation and creative problem solving skills in students from kindergarten through college.