Look out, Generation X, Y and Z – there's a new generation emerging: Generation C. Its members have one big thing in common: they're digital natives and exceptionally tech-savvy. But researchers are having trouble pinpointing the main characteristics of Generation C, and exactly who can be included in this category.
Defining Generation C by Birth Year
Some researchers like to define Generation C according to when its members were born.
For example, CEFRIO, a public-private technology transfer group in Quebec, Canada, pegs Generation C as a group of individuals born between 1982 and 1996.
This would actually place Generation C within the Generation Y or Millennial category. According to researchers William Strauss and Neil Howe, who have authored a number of books on generational trends, Millennials were born between 1982 and 2001.
Defining Generation C by Technological Focus: Digital Natives
Others prefer to define Generation C as a "psychographic" group, or a number of individuals who share a similar state of mind, whether that be certain personality traits, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles.
In this definition, Generation C's members all have the common characteristic of being "digital natives" who turn to the Internet naturally and extensively to do a number of things, and are very Web 2.0-savvy.
Dan Pankraz, a youth planning specialist for a digital marketing agency in Sydney, Australia, says there are five main characteristics of Generation C:
- a love of content creation and 'mashing';
- the tendency to form active communities rather than remain passive;
- a gravitation toward social media sites where they can participate in discussions about different ideas and get involved in cultural conversations;
- a desire to be in control of their own lives, and a contentedness with complexity;
- a desire to work in more creative industries and be less restricted by rigid social structures.
According to U.K. marketing strategist Jake Pearce, age does not matter when defining Generation C. You could be a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964) and qualify as part of Generation C because you are heavily into Facebook or YouTube. Or you could technically be part of the Millennial generation and still not be part of Generation C if you have not jumped on the content creation or social media bandwagon.
So Whose Definition of Generation C Do You Accept?
In some cases, the differentiation between Generation C and Y may not matter, since so many Millennials are actually very tech-savvy and have been immersed in the Internet from a very early age. Many of them will therefore naturally fall into the Gen C category.
While the psychographic definition of Generation C may seem too broad to some, we need to think of it as a totally different approach to defining a group of people – one that does leave room to include people of all ages who are digitally-inclined. In this case, perhaps we need a better name for this group, as the word "generation" can cause confusion.