Generation Jones?

At the Vancouver celebration of Social Media Day, globally hosted by Mashable, the discussions seemed to center around using social media as a marketing tool. How does one find their target market online and establish a connection.  I think this is a question that marketers have been asking themselves for years, regardless of the medium.  

A musician, on the hunt for tips on how he can use social media to reach his audience asked, “How do I market to Generation Jones?” My interest peaked as I wasn’t all that familiar with the term and once explained, I took comfort in my GenX status, but was reminded that marketers have the need to compartmentalize everything and everyone.  It was explained to me that the demographic of those in their mid-40’s to mid-50’s, are a unique category unto themselves for marketers.   Somewhere between Baby Boomers and Generation X, there exists a group that according to many are of such statistical importance that they cannot be underestimated.  Generation Jones, a term first coined by Jonathan Pontell, includes the early computer pioneers such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates; the economic leaders of today such as Ben Bernanke; political influencers such as President Obama; and pop culture icons such as Michael Jackson.  The term Joneser – or Jonesing – comes from the idea of conspicuous consumption of the 1980’s, the idea of keeping up with the Jones. Today this translates into a valuable population in terms of commercial and buying power.

Hence advertisers see this group as an important faction to market towards: they are pragmatic, they expect to pay for things and they make up 20% of the adult population. The Associated Press Annual Trend Report chose “The Rise of Generation Jones” as the #1 Trend in 2009.   According to, several of the largest global ad agencies have now created departments and special teams to research and implement effective strategies which work best for this demographic. According to Pew Internet, 79% of GenJonsers are online, and although instant messaging, social networking, and blogging have gained ground as communication tools, where the GenJonsers are really leading is in online commerce: mainly shopping and banking. In fact 68% shop online and 53% bank online.  Having said that 22% download music, 49% watch videos online and 20% use social networking sites. Mostly on MySpace, followed by Facebook, there is now a growing trend towards Twitter.  A report by Nielsenwire stated that Twitter is most popular among working adults, making up 42% Twitters’ membership.

So what is the creative hook for this generation? For my musician friend, according to, here are some things to think about: Product innovation such as Apple’s Genius App gives people the ability to crowd-source playlists. The mission of MySpace this year (resulting from its recent acquisitions of iLike and imeem) is to deepen its focus on music to become the number one destination for artist communities online. DRM (digital rights management) and music mashups need to find a way to co-exist, hopefully with a subscription based revenue model. If you offer GenJonsers pragmatism, that is the ability to engage with content in a meaningful way, communicate with like-minded individuals and have well priced merchandise, you not only have a solid marketing strategy, but an optimal and personalized experience.  Interestingly enough, I think this is the answer to marketing to every generation.  Make it mean something, and they will come.