Engaging with Gen C – Clients and Customers

Leslie Wilson    June 11, 2014

Industry:  Contract Food and Support Services

Name of contact:  Leslie Wilson, VP Marketing

gen cGen C is a powerful new force in culture and commerce. Sixty-five percent are under 35 but they span the generations, empowered by technology to search out authentic content that they consume across all platforms and all screens, whenever and wherever they want. They can be difficult to reach with traditional media – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here – but brands that take the time to understand them and properly engage with them will find a willing and influential audience, says You Tube.

YouTube Generation

“People that aren’t connected with the internet, they can’t function the same way in society that a lot of other people do.”

Gen-C, By the Numbers

If you compare Nielsen’s graphic with that of IBM’s research on Social CRM, you can appreciate the full dimension of Gen-C as every demographic, in their own way, is adopting disruptive technology. And, it’s only becoming greater.

It is critical that we understand how to reach our customers and the speed at which “disruptive technology” is being accepted.  In the contract food service business there are two ways for us to engage with customers or Gen C’s .

The first is clients.

We are third party contractors, brought in by clients to provide food services to their employees, students or visitors.  In the healthcare sector for example, the food service provider may serve meals to patients; provide breaks to hospital staff through a franchise agreement with partner such as Tim Hortons, in the form of a kiosk in the front lobby; and sell food and beverage through a central cafeteria to people in the hospital for a day procedure or to visit a friend or relative.  We need to reach these clients in their communities to distinguish our services from competitors, our goal is to retain current contracts and be awarded new business.  The healthcare community is just that, a community filled with provincial and federal groups, dietitians, non-partisan accreditation bodies.  As third part contractors providing them outsource services, we need to be were they live; inside their many social media communities.IMG_5355_Med_Res

The second is customers.

Our customers are the end users.  The ones who purchase food and beverages from our facilities and restaurants.  With this group, our competitors are the street.  Any restaurant or coffee shop that competes for a meal occasion.  In this example, let’s look at a University campus.  The university setting is a community unto itself, to reach this group of Gen C’s, we must have a presence where they live.  They live on the internet.  Effective use of social media provides an opportunity to enhance customer engagement while driving experience and revenue.  Daily management of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube is a must.  It is managed on campus by a local community manager; they become the face of our brands on site.

Check out this Prezi presentation called the Future of video in Higher Education by Kate Standing


It doesn’t stop there, we listen too! Sometimes people are talking about us, our brand partners, our clients and we use listening technology, hash-tags, trends and sentiments scores to provide further value to both our customer bases.  To react quickly, correct and to ensure we keep our users happy and engaged; and to provide added value to our clients.

“A community was a physical location.  Now with the internet you have communities that revolve around anything and everything”

Lessons Learned

Gen C is not a quirk of when you were born, simply put it’s a way of life.  Gen C requires empathy and personalization not marketing.


The importance of understanding interests and behavior in marketing rather than that of traditional demographic profiling….


Our customers aren’t demographics. They’re not age ranges. They’re not job titles, or geographical regions, or salary brackets. They’re human beings and we have complex relationships with them in business.

If we want to connect with our clients and customers, we all have to stop pushing knee-jerk marketing clichés on them, and focus on understanding who they really are, how they really think, and what’s really important to them.

See Also: Forget Gen Y

References: From Social Media to Social CRM

Meet Gen C: The Connected Customer

The Real Reason Your Marketing Doesn’t Work

Future of video in Higher Education

Who are Gen C?

Submitted By:  Leslie Wilson

To contact the author of this entry please email at:  leslie.wilson@compass-canada.com

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of Compass Group Canada Ltd., its subsidiaries, affiliates, or employees.  The information contained herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed by the author to be reliable.  However, the author does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s accuracy or completeness.