Millennials and the younger Centennials behind them are often the focus of attention (and blame) when it comes to brand disruption. It’s not uncommon to see headlines such as “Millennials are Killing Insert Industry, Brand, Institution.”
Truth is that they’re not the sole culprit. Consumerism as a whole is evolving and many businesses are not upgrading or updating value propositions, processes or products. Beyond Millennials, Centennials or any age demographic for that matter, the consumer every brand needs to pay attention to the group I call “Generation-C.”
This ever-growing group of connected consumers interacts with brands differently and has a rising expectation for on-demand assistance. As Google puts it, these highly-connected, mobile-first consumers are giving rise to “the age of assistance.”
Unlike other Generational classifiers, Generation-C, where “C” represents “Connected,” is not organized by age. Instead, it’s comprised of digital consumers who share common (and evolving) intent, behaviors, preferences and aspirations. As a result of their connected lifestyle, they’re also increasingly curious, impatient and demanding as a result.
It’s no longer digital-first, it’s now a mobile-first world
Legacy brand playbooks are not only outdated, they’re missing the elements necessary to engage consumers in ways they value and desire. It’s not enough to be digital. Brands must now become mobile-first to meet the rising expectations of Gen-C.
Mobile has fundamentally altered the way people interact with brands. This affects how people search and consume content. Micro-moments have now become the standard for how consumers use their mobile devices in the moments that matter to know, go, do, and buy.
But now, they also expect more personal, seamless, immediate and assistive experiences. This gives rise to an age of assistance and the need for “adviser brands” to guide them.
To help develop a playbook for the age of assistance, Google assembled a revealing primer that sheds light on how consumers are seeking assistive brand engagement.
Generation-C is curious
There was once a time when curiosity “killed the cat.” Now it’s a way of life. Connected consumers are research-obsessed and will use their mobile device to research decisions whether they’re small or big. For example, the use of “best” in mobile searches is up 80 percent in the past two years.
And mobile search that reveal the extent to which consumers are seeking to be informed aren’t just limited to the “best” big ticket items. Searches for smaller, everyday items are also skyrocketing. Mobile searches for “best umbrellas,” for instance, is up over 140 percent. Queries for “best toothbrush” are up over 100 percent.
In some cases, connected consumers don’t know what to search, so they’ll search topics to give them ideas where to start and go. In the past two years, mobile searches for “_____ ideas” have grown over 55 percent. Mobile watchtime of YouTube videos with “idea” in the title have increased over 95 percent These explorations run the gamut according to Google, including:
- Bathroom remodel ideas
- Room decorating ideas
- Graduation party ideas
- Groomsmen gift ideas
On the other end of the “best” spectrum is the “worst.” Connected consumers are also curious to know if your brand or product are worth it.
Google learned that there are 1.5X more mobile searches ending with “to avoid” in the past two years, e.g.:
- cooking oil brands to avoid
- refrigerators to avoid
Mobile searches for “is ____ worth it” have also grown over 80% in the past two years.
- Is life insurance worth it
- Is organic milk worth it
- Is an electric toothbrush worth it
Generation-C is demanding
With increased connectivity comes more information, which leads to empowerment and eventually leads consumers to become more demanding. Connected consumers expect brands to understand their intent and context and deliver personalized content in the right moment to guide them along their journey.
According to Google, mobile searches that include personal language such as “me and “I” are on the rise. Mobile searches that contain “___ for me” have grown over 60 percent in the last two years. Sample searches include:
- What running shoes are best for me?
- Best haircut for me
- Which credit card is best for me?
Connected consumers are also expecting the Internet and online tribes to help them understand what they should do in specific instances. Mobile searches for “should I___” have grown 80 percent in the past two years. Examples include:
- What should I do today?
- How many credit cards should I have?
- What should I make for dinner?
Inferring context is also becoming more and more common. For example, consumers are sharing less information about their location. In most searches regarding location, “near me” or specific locations that were once included are now gone. Now, consumers just expect for location details to be a given in the information that they find.
Generation-C is impatient
It used to be that patience was a virtue. Now it might be true for impatience. Connected consumers want things…now. They’re making decisions faster than ever before and they expect to act on those decisions immediately. Brands must now invest in assistive experiences to keep up with fast-moving consumers while also earning competitive advantages.
When connected consumers reach for their smartphone to research, Google learned that they do so to be more informed, prepared or productive. Consumers expect the right results in real time. For instance, Google shared the following mobile search trends:
- Interest for ”open now” has jumped 300 percent.
- “Same-day shipping” searches are up 120 percent.
- “____ wait time” has grown 120% for restaurants, theme parks, and anything commonly associated with lines.
The age of assistance is upon us. While it may see like yet another front to further extend already limited resources, it represents an opportunity for marketing innovation and growth.
Like Generation-C, marketers too have access to modern tools and capabilities. Ultimately, connected, mobile consumers seek assistance. That means adviser brands can re-imagine business and marketing operations to deliver value through meaningful, assistive experiences in everyday moments.
Generation-C is already supporting (and growing) brands that shift from mass marketing to mass personalization. The question is, are you ready to be an adviser brand in the age of assistance?