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Gen C – Connected & Informed: Are You Ready?

You wouldn’t naturally think Hong Kong and Chicago have much in common, especially in the B2B marketing world.   Ah, but the world is getting smaller, and moving faster.  On a recent trip to Asia, I was struck by the learnings from one business meeting that was nearly identical to a session I had in Chicago just a few weeks earlier. The meeting in Hong Kong was with Global Sources, UBM Tech’s joint venture partner in our Electronics business.   Our partner was excited to share a media consumption study that focused on the information consumption habits of engineers and managers in China (we will post here when it is publically released or just drop me an email).  I did a triple take on the results until I reviewed the demographic makeup of the engineering professionals surveyed and, of course, viewed the findings through the fascinating lens of China.  The statistic that hit me immediately was the average age of those participating in the study where professionals in their 30s, almost a full 20 years younger than many who respond to similar studies in the U.S.

Just three weeks earlier, I attended a board meeting for the Business Marketing Association.  The highlight of the agenda was a presentation from the recently formed ‘shadow board’ comprised of “Generation C” (also known as ‘Connected’) employees from tech companies such as Motorola, IBM and Siemens, as well as pros working in B2B advertising agencies.

The brief for the “Gen C’ers” was to attend the BMA “Grow” event in Chicago and share with the BMA Board a proposal/presentation on how to reach new and younger potential members for the association. The presentation they gave in Chicago was one of the most informative, creative and challenging that I have seen in my career. They started with a presentation that focused on “who are we?” Here are some of their definitive statements about themselves:

  • Our phones are the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we turn off at night
  • If we don’t know how to do something, we check YouTube first to learn
  • We don’t pay for cable
  • We prefer to get our news on our smartphones
  • Cash may be king but we prefer to pay with plastic or (even better) online
  • We don’t fear failure
  • We believe in experiences
  • We don’t buy music, yet we spend most nights at concerts
  • Our most precious photos, videos and memories live in the cloud
  • We don’t watch a movie, eat at a restaurant or stay at a hotel without reading reviews first
  • We constantly connect

Absorbing Gen C’ers expectations and preferences, and experiencing first-hand what was happening in China, confirmed to me that there are more similarities than differences between these young professionals despite thousands of miles of separation.

In reaching the very powerful Gen C professionals in Asia, it is critical to establish a mobile strategy, a community strategy, and to focus on events and the event experience (see the comments on experiences and concerts above).  A vivid example of this shift can be seen from our Asian partner Global Sources.  Via a recent partnership with Weibo, Asia’s powerhouse social media network, Global Sources developed an eeWeibo microblogging app just for electronics engineers to connect and share information.  This new app received more than 10,000 downloads on iTunes in the first week.

Young professionals in China are information hungry and are willing to engage with a number of media platforms – including print – which they trust as well as educational instruction via video.  They are socially media savvy seeking out influential peers and their thoughts on companies, products and solutions. My experience at the BMA suggests that young professionals in the U.S. are equally likely to engage in similar ways.

Are you set up to engage with your next generation customers and employees? Look forward to hearing your experiences.

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