People don’t like being put in boxes. Whether that’s the box of our homes or being separated into arbitrary age categories, over the last year we’ve had little freedom to break out of either.
Countless articles have detailed the upheaval our world is undertaking, and we’ve been split into groups regarding our identities, locations and generations. While times have been tough, the unique shared experience and chance for re-examination has seen a new collective force crystallize as we re-emerge from lockdown.
Connected by their cultures and communities, Gen C is an ageless group, free of traditional demographics. Whether 61 or 16, we are coming together over shared passions. From the digital escape remedy of Animal Crossing and the soothing, artisanal process of baking, to the surprising popularity of chess on live-streaming platforms and TikToks of musicians collaborating over forgotten sea shanty singalongs – what’s old and new has found new meaning and created new ways of connecting.
My parents would normally roll their eyes at the mention of another ‘gen something’ (“Gen FFS,” as they would say). Tired of being labeled and put in the baby boomer box, the mention of an ageless generation perked their ears up as they too found they could relate to the sense of being connected by what we care about, rather than simply what occurred during our lifetime.
So how exactly are gen Z and baby boomers coming together to form the new kid on the demographic block?
Our increased relationship with technology might be blaringly obvious, but the impact it’s had on gen C cannot be overstated. Exercise or education through Zoom may have only worked to an extent, but our desire for experiences drove us to new territories and proved fertile grounds for new cultures to take root. In the height of the pandemic, reports showed 723% more digital visitors to virtual tours and online collections, while the livestream industry was reporting 99% more viewers year-on-year.
However, our digital desires are not solely restricted to entertainment and connecting. Gen C have also adapted their basic needs, and the ways in which they’re accessing them.
Consumers don’t necessarily need a Michelangelo sculpture online, but they do need toothpaste and shampoo. New routines have started etching themselves into our lives and our ways of consuming have adjusted, with 68% of us saying the pandemic has changed the products and services we once thought were important.
The power that even small purchases online can have on future behaviors should not be underestimated, as how we purchase is being re-discovered across ages and touch points. While local purchasing remains strong and will continue post-pandemic, everyone’s e-commerce door has creaked open – and gen C are the ones putting the first foot in.
Many things paused last year, but culture did not. Starting 2021 with the same restrictions, but now with new realization on their adaptability, people are continuing to shape their lifestyles and communities to best fit their bubble, and we are seeing that reflect in our culture. The stats show people do care. With 306% higher lifetime value in customers with an emotional relationship to a brand, the time is ripe for brands to memorably step in and help gen C find their footing in strange times.
At FleishmanHillard, we are working with gen C and helping brands to forge connections through various initiatives in our Brand and Consumer team. Our Youth & Culture specialism runs a Residency program that nurtures PR and creative talent, no matter what age, and gives opportunity through real-world experience.
As we re-emerge and have our first taste of freedom post-lockdown, many are looking forward and changes will continue to evolve, so it’s imperative to continue to take stock and listen. At the end of the day, consumers are still consumers, but cultural context is playing a bigger role than ever and the blurred lines between consumption and culture are becoming increasingly important. People don’t like to be put in boxes, but thankfully how we choose to look at the box is getting wider.