Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Consumer of the Future: The WWW Generation Crosses Three Generational Cohorts

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Consumer of the Future: The WWW Generation Crosses Three Generational Cohorts

Article excerpt

THEY NUMBER more than 150 million, more than 70 million of them from generation Y and the rest almost evenly split between generation X and younger baby boomers. They were born after 1956 and fall into the www generation. They rescued Apple; they prefer to check in at the airport using self-service machines; they use automated check-out registers at Home Depot or automated check-in devices at hotels. They've grown accustomed to using the Internet as their main way to get news, entertainment, and to do their shopping. They are comfortable with Web self-service and demand it from their suppliers. Most important, they will be the owners and senior executives of the industrial, consumer, and services companies that you will need to sell to and service. They will gladly tell you how they intend to buy and be serviced. You, in turn, will either meet their electronic needs or they will click their mouse button and relegate you to oblivion as they seamlessly move over to your competitor's Web site.

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Sound extreme? Consider these facts: Average annual Internet-user growth rates exceeded 20 percent over the past decade. U.S. Department of Commerce statistics for 2004 state online consumer sales of $117 billion, representing a measly 3.3 percent of total U.S. retail sales of $3.6 trillion. Yet while total U.S. consumer sales grew by 6.8 percent in 2004, online consumer sales grew by 26 percent. Go ahead, reread those numbers. Now ask yourself: Do I sufficiently understand the www generation's way of thinking, and am I ready to sell and service them their way?

The www generation created the digital lifestyle and they love living it. Here's a closer glimpse into this digital lifestyle (many thanks to my distinguished colleague Tim Bajarin for his input regarding this list):

Digital entertainment center (DEC): The www generation is never more than a browser-link away from its DEC. For example, these consumers seamlessly connect to their PCs and televisions, access movies, and turn on/off their house alarm systems. They are also the target of a fierce shootout between telecom, PC, consumer electronics, and cable companies that seek to dominate the explosive digital entertainment hub. …

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