2 min.
The web of millennials
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The web of millennials

Business Strategy

The more the Internet makes its way into our offices, our living rooms and our schedules, the more we notice the emergence of spaces allowing individual expression. The novelty is that all these monologues come together in as many communities of interest around the world. The marketing function must go into “listening” mode to identify, target and reach all these microniches. A look at the reality of the next great generation of consumer-communicators.



The children of this generation (I am one) are now about a quarter of a century old. Children of baby boomers, there are a lot of them. They are very sure of themselves. Television is to their parents what the Web is to them. They don't just idolize, they want to join in and take control.

"Television drives homogeneity, Internet drives diversity," said Mary Slayton, who handles consumer affairs at Nike Global. The new consumer wants to create and share his heterogeneity. Here's how :


Our generation is one of humour. To hang on, nothing beats a good laugh, or even sarcasm. On the Web, this reality is realized through the exchange of many jokes by e-mail (and the great popularity of sites such as chezmaya.com, for example) and many other "community" puns such as "type the word failure in Google and you will arrive on the site of the White House” (it works!). From this characteristic, marketing experts make huge campaigns with surprisingly limited means.


The established power of communities of interest, taking on a whole new dimension on the Web, no longer needs to be demonstrated. Consumers can access or share a great deal of information about a company or an individual. Are you poorly served at Dunkin Donuts? No problem, have your say on Dunkin Donuts Talk, a blog by a Dunkin Donuts fan. A problem with a Dell PC? Let off steam with other dissatisfied people gathered by Jeff Jarvis on his blog dedicated to the cause, which advantageously follows Dell's corporate site in search engines...

On this, the consumer has all the power. It is a question of no longer taking it for a pair of ears, but a reactive being. Don't be like Apple, which has fake students "discuss" its products in a fake blog. Now, it's all the real blogs that have picked up the story and are having a blast.

Also, the notion of pricing loses all its meaning. Today, the price is set by the consumer's sense of reason. In any case, for the non-distinguished product and available in more than one place, the consumer has and will increasingly have access to perfect information with regard to the price.


If he can know everything, someone has to tell everything… In addition to tirelessly publishing in the communities, Ys tell their stories. They blog (1 new blog created per second approximately), publish their recipes, their travels (wikitravel), their photos (photosig, flickr), their knowledge (wikipedia)... Some even want to be the experts of their hyperniche, and maintain a space where they gather their knowledge and publish on a sharp subject, hence the upcoming emergence of Squidoo , probably an icon of this culture of experts. 


The Web allows direct and instant contact, so why miss out? Disintermediation is the fruit of this reality. Ys want to have what they want, when they want it. All current marketing is called into question.

Another fact that reminds us of this need is the growth of phenomena such as dating sites where people feel the need to interact and find the person who meets their criteria perfectly, almost mathematically. Myspace is another eloquent example where members (increasing from 3 to 25 million members in less than a year) draw up their detailed profiles with the aim of meeting people of all kinds: soul mates, passion for the same music , TV series or… philosophy. A veritable network of people packed with vital market information.

And what about eBay, potentially the most theoretically perfect marketplace the earth has ever known. We can also mention disintermediation, also due to the curiosity and pressure of consumers, such as their increasingly direct purchases from manufacturers or service providers, for example airlines.


To talk about it, we can no longer be satisfied with the message that boasts of its characteristics and a well-filled website. We must use these forces through viral marketing for example, referencing in search engines or online public relations to interfere cautiously in our networks of people who are willing to accept it. What is also to be followed is the notion of business intelligence, allowing for example the automated processing of communications, which is just beginning to emerge in practice in organizations, but which will soon be the survival tool for identify, target and reach today's consumer.