Whilst this may sound like the plot of a science fiction book, it is a vision of the world that will become a reality, as a generation who have never known anything but constant internet access matures. They are what global management consulting firm booz&co have labelled ‘Generation C’: connected, communicating, content-centric, computerised, community-orientated and always clicking.
Booz&co draw a portrait of a typical citizen: ‘Colin’. Colin’s life is predominately mediated through his PDD (primary digital device). He prefers to stay in touch with his family and friends through this device; it gives him access to a social network unprecedented by 20th century standards. And what of his shopping habits?
Though he prefers to shop online, when he does visit a store, the PDD automatically connects to the store’s network, guiding him through product choices, offering peer reviews, and automatically checking out and paying for items he purchases.
For Generation C, the seamless convergence between the on and offline worlds is a rule. It is all they will know. A society with that distinction will become a distant world; something they will learn about in school the same way we look back at life without electricity.
Generation C aren't just passive consumers either. 90% create online content at least once a month. They are passionate brand advocates, who spend their time on YouTube and constantly curating content. It's for this reason that Generation C could be your next best customers. Google explain why on their Think Insights blog:
From electronics to travel, clothes to cosmetics, live events to fitness, Gen C buy products and services with far greater regularity than do their non-Gen C counterparts; they’re up to 3.6x more likely to purchase. And two thirds of Gen C around the world say that “If there is a brand I love, I tend to tell everyone about it.”
The organisations on the cusp of converging the on and offline experience will thrive in this environment. This generation don’t have the same antiquated reservations as you and I: privacy, ecommerce, data security. They won’t think twice about giving up their credit card details. In fact, having to psychically pay or hand over details will, for them, be something of a chore.
You and I are different. We weren’t born and bred in this type of society; we’ve had to adapt. We can remember what life was like before and we can come up for air now and again.
The day will come when society is completely severed from its offline past. You'll struggle to find anybody born after 1990 who consciously decides to reject this world. To them, that’s as risible as deciding to reject the motorcar. If you think we live in a hyper-connected world now, watch as Generation C matures. The question is, will your organisation start preparing now, or when it's too late?