In 10 years, the largest influence on all purchases will be the virtual experience associated with them, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2015, more money will be spent marketing and selling to multiple anonymous online personas than marketing and selling offline. This transition in customer interaction is being driven by Generation Virtual, also known as “Generation V.”
Gartner analysts said Generation V is the recognition that general behavior, attitudes and interests start to blend together in an online environment. The idea of Generation X (and later Generation Y) was conceived as a way to understand new generations that appeared not to have connections to the culture icons of the baby boomers. Marketers use the categories of baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y to segment the population for targeting products and services with a focus on age.
However, as more baby boomers (who are living longer) and the younger generations go online and participate/communicate in a flat virtual environment, the generational distinctions break down. Customers will hop across segments at various times of life for various reasons and are likely to act like several generations at any given time.
For companies, it means access to new economies. For example, by 2030, there will be twice as many people over age 65 in the United States with 70 times the real median income of their corresponding age group in 1990. They will be spending more time online engaging as Generation V members. Companies will have new reach (and access to their growing discretionary income) that they could not get before.
Recommendations to Target Generation V:
- Companies should organize their products and services around multiple online personas.
- Sell to the persona, not the person. A persona will show you how it wants to be treated.
- Create virtual environments as a way to orchestrate customer exploration toward purchases.
- Shift Investment from known customers to unknown ones. Focus on the influencers within the meritocracy.
- Develop and retain or outsource new skills to attract, connect, contribute and gain insight from Generation V and its virtual environment