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Gartner Says Enterprises Must Create Separate Marketing Strategies for Generation Virtual


Analysts Examine Future Trends and Innovations for CRM at Gartner CRM Summit in Washington D.C., September 8-10, 2008

STAMFORD, Conn., July 2008 —

As community marketing continues to evolve, organizations can target “Generation Virtual” by providing socialization tools to customers and prospects depending on their purpose and the level of customer engagement, according to Gartner, Inc.

Unlike previous generations, Generation Virtual (also known as Generation V) is not defined by age — or gender, social demographic or geography — but is based on demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights. Generation V is the recognition that general behavior, attitudes and interests are starting to blend together in an online environment.

Gartner has identified four levels of engagement within Generation V, addressing both the extent to which customers will engage with other customers, as well as the level of engagement needed from businesses to enable the community. The four levels of engagement include: creators, contributors, opportunists, and lurkers.

“Companies should plan to segment all four levels in the community - each has significant business value,” said Adam Sarner, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Differentiation exists between sectors and industries. Marketers with strong brands attract more creators. Certain industries, such as insurance, draw more lurkers.”

By recognizing and accommodating these levels, companies can harness their influence for marketing purposes, and ultimately, for transactions.

Up to 3 percent of individuals will be creators, providing original content and can be advocates that promote your product and services.
Between 3 percent and 10 percent of individuals will be contributors, essentially followers, who add to the conversation, but don’t initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.
Between 10 percent and 20 percent of individuals will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can “add value” to a conversation that’s taking place, while walking through a considered purchase.
Approximately 80 percent of individuals will be lurkers (and all users start as such), essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input, but only absorb what is being communicated. However, they can implicitly contribute and validate indirectly reporting the value from the rest of the community.

Gartner recommends marketing organizations should:

* Plan to segment and support all four engagement levels in the community. Each has significant business value, and each approach will dictate the technology you’ll use to support them.
* Establish goals and have a plan for determining return on investment (ROI). Many companies are initiating or connecting to communities without clear goals as to the value they provide to the customer or the company. What may have begun as a way to connect with customers can damage the company’s brand.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “How to Determine Levels of Engagement for Generation Virtual.” The report is available on Gartner’s Web site at

Gartner analysts will examine additional trends in the CRM market at the Gartner CRM Summit, which will be held September 8-10 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Gartner CRM Summit is a comprehensive event offering the latest customer strategies and technologies, how those technologies affect customer relationship initiatives, and what organizational and cultural changes must occur to meet a company’s goals. Additional information is available at

Members of the media can register by sending an e-mail to Christy Pettey at


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