What We Can Learn From Generation C – by James Barton

Many people have heard of generation X or even generation Y, but whenever I ask what people know of generation C, I nearly always draw a blank.

This is not surprising as there are a number of variations of the definition of generation C, including generation Z (for obvious reasons) and generation M (the M standing for Multi-Media).

My preference however has always been for generation C, as the C is used to stand for ‘connected’, which I feel is the best way to define this highly important group of people.

Generation C (Gen C) is classified as anybody born from 1995 onwards and whilst these youngsters are still only just reaching 18, we must remember that in the next 10 years, they are going to be the leaders, and more importantly the buyers of products and services.

So what? Well for us to be successful in reaching this audience we need to learn to play by their rules and not ours and the time to prepare for this is now!

Lets take training and development as our example.

For years the training and development organisations have been developing solutions based around class room style learning, with a few tools and even a video or tool to appeal to later gen Y’s in our customer base.

Given the success of training and development, this strategy has worked out very well, with the market now exceeding £20 billion (CIPD) in 2012. But will this succeed with this new generation of connected people?

My feeling is a categorical no.

Looking at my own generation C children (I have three wonderful Gen C’s) as a case study, I can already see their preferences coming through and how their learning styles have changed significantly from my own. Watching my two eldest study for their various exams, my traditional read and revise approach simply doesn’t work.

They need something more.

They need stimulation beyond course work and even clever courseware (Computer Based Training is everywhere). They need to be connected.

Everything in their world is now highly interrelated and the more integrated the approach is, the more impact it has. In my day, I would happily play for hours on the epic Elite on my BBC B computer, never interacting with another human for days (sad huh!).

These days the kids play internet connected games, playing with people across the globe in highly interactive and often team focused games. They only play the stand alone games when Dad is using up all the bandwidth!

This shift in behaviour can easily be translated into their future buying and learning patterns for the future. If we truly want to reach out and impact the lives of these individuals (either through selling great products or helping them learn to be excellent) we need to move away from traditional approach and need to start thinking connected.

In my world of training and development, this will require a significant paradigm shift in thinking and a move away from class room style training to better support these highly mobile and highly connected individuals.

What is the solution? To be honest I am not sure yet. I have a number of ideas, but these need to be tested and will require some significant investment. What I do know is that for companies to survive over the next decade, we need to start thinking about Gen C now!

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James is a Senior Associate and SFDC technology specialist working with Mentor Group. With over 18 years experience in IT, Sales and Personal Development James is known for his significant technical knowledge, high energy and innovative approach to any solution.