Melissa Waggener Zorkin: How To Change The World Before Breakfast

Why Generation ‘Connected’ values innovation, and how that affects their purchasing behavior.

Waggener Edstrom has provided PSFK with generous support throughout 2012 and is the Official Agency Partner of the PSFK Conference Series. We asked them to share their take on the meaning of ‘Innovation’ in 2012.  If you plan on joining us this week at PSFK LONDON 2012, be sure to say hello!

According to some, innovation is not what we think it is, is going in the wrong direction or has maybe even been absconded by marketing as a buzzword. This debate has been raging for years now.

Well, with respect to the naysayers, I say get over it. And it appears that many in the so-called “Generation Connected” (or Gen C) are in the same camp as me. In fact, some new research conducted by our agency, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, indicates that for this group, innovation has become the very air they breathe; more than just desirable, it is critical for their survival and advancing society.

Who is Gen C? According to the most recent U.S. Census, this connected generation makes up about one-quarter of the population, owns at least one-third of the tablets and uses 39 percent of smartphones (I am constantly learning from my own daughter on some of the finer points of how to connect ‘better’ J). They are digitally savvy and technology is a huge part of their lives. We asked more than 1,600 of them how they perceive innovation and summarized the findings in this infographic.

It is interesting to see how brands matter to Gen C. Not just from a cool branding or marketing campaign perspective either. But increasingly they are choosing products from companies that act with purpose and an aim for creating a positive impact on society; companies that are innovating for the social good. I have to say I am glad to see this – in essence they care about brands; not just product features (although the product has to fill a need); and they stand ready to be engaged with the brand, if they love it.

Now of course, just like other slices of the population, Gen C includes early adopters, folks who grab the newest bright shiny gadget off the shelf so they can be the first one to have it. But what the research also shows is that many in Gen C have a second, equally important reason for that purchase — that new gadget is a tool to help them be more creative.

But creative to what end? Well, the research also indicates that Gen C seeks to balance a “product first” mentality with a desire for real social impact. No question their smartphone or mobile device is at the core of who they are and is often the first item they pick up in the morning. Before a shower, they check their social networks and catch up on the latest memes that have gone viral. But they are also thinking hard about how to leverage these connections to create change. And for them, innovations are a critical foundation from which to spring.

With their focus on societal change, ultraconnected lives and desire to embrace innovative changes, can Gen C really be that far off from adding “making a positive impact” to the list of first steps in the morning while the coffee is brewing?

Article contributed by Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO, President & Founder of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.

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