Jesus: The Next Hot Trend?

In their article, Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation of Consumers, authors Lisa Johnson and Cheri Hanson define the "connected generation" as having ten desires. A closer look at their list reveals that this hungry generation can still be satisfied by one simple, timeless activity -- following Jesus in community.

1. Shine the spotlight: Extreme personalization gives marketing a new face

The Connected Generation is clamoring for personal recognition. They're itching to stand out, stand up, and be celebrated with their names in lights (or print or pixels). Brands that tap into this powerful need with highly creative efforts will get not only great buzz, but a whole new level of loyalty and brand ownership to match.

Isn't that what Jesus does? Throw a big party for a prodigal? Go out looking for that one precious sheep?

2. Raise my pulse: Adventure takes its place as the new social currency

There is a new premium placed on venturing into the world, collecting exotic adventures and memories, and pushing personal limits. Customers are seeking highly interactive encounters that teach and challenge and in the process, give them personal insight, and explore who they are. Today, more brands are responding to this craving for adventure by offering fresh, unique, and easy-to-access experiences. From classes on stiletto-shoe to test-driving new careers, it has never been easier to raise your pulse.

Climbing the narrow road with Jesus is a pulse-raising adventure beyond compare.

3. Make loose connections: The new shape of "families" and social networks

The Connected Generation has embraced technology to build social and professional networks with a brave new structure. This generation is rejecting traditional associations and club-style memberships in favor of loose connections that more accurately reflect their interests, lifestyles, and busy days. Brands need to understand how to interact with these powerful new social structures if they want to stay hot and stay in the loop.

Jesus, too, rejected "traditional associations and club-style memberships," and pursued brief but intense interactions with all kinds of different people.

4. Give me brand candy: Everyday objects get sharp, delicious, intuitive design

Design has emerged as a sign of the good life. The look and feel of objects, places, and things is becoming increasingly important. Design is shifting paradigms and spurring people everywhere to rethink established products and industries. Design, along with its strategic twin innovation, has become a vital tool to stand out and stay strong in an increasingly competitive market.

A goblet of crimson wine. Fresh-baked bread. Our King knew the power of simple, beautiful objects.

5. Filter out the clutter: Editors and filters step into a new role of prominence

In a world that's inundated with choices, editing is a critical market phenomenon and an important process in our daily lives. Consumers rely on editors to sift through the raw data and identify the top picks. As a result, many savvy brands are learning to build editing mechanisms into their brands, products, and Web sites. In today's globalized world, it feels good to be "in the know" and to avoid costly and frustrating purchases.

Sounds like the Holy Spirit's job description in a nutshell -- to sift through the junk and steer us to truth.

6. Keep it underground: The rejection of push advertising and the rising influence of peer-to-peer networks

The Connected Generation has grown up feeling saturated with advertising and marketing. They are suspicious of ordinary "push" campaigns and gravitate toward integrated, contextual offerings from trusted friends and members of their networks. A select group of people discovers something new, from shoes to bands to politics to neighborhoods, and translates it to satisfy a much wider audience. This is the way of the underground.

7. Build it together: Connected citizens explore their creative power and influence change

There are currently one billion people connected online around the world. With so many people conducting large portions of their lives online, we've only just begun to tap into the power of Web-based networks. The Connected Generation is becoming intoxicated by its growing ability to spark change—both as consumer groups and as end users. This awareness is spurring mass creativity and launching a power shift away from companies and into the hands of consumers.

8. Bring it to life: Everyday activities are orchestrated to deliver a dramatic sense of theater

From beverages to designer fashions to dinnertime solutions, brand theater is popping up in virtually every industry as savvy companies deliver compelling and entertaining new experiences. Brand theater allows companies of all kinds to create emotional connections with their customers. It takes typical experiences a few steps forward by engaging the senses, the imagination, and the spirit, and transforms routine experiences into riveting entertainment.

9. Go inward: Spiritual hunger and modern media find common ground

Increasingly, the meaningful life is defined as the spiritual life, and spirituality has become a dominant value among today's consumers. Companies and media channels are introducing new products, services, and forums to support this spiritually hungry generation. The Connected Generation has embraced modern media and blurred the lines between secular and sacred, finding spirituality in all aspects of their lives.

10. Give back: Redefining volunteerism and the meaning of contribution

There's a new spirit of volunteerism in the air, led by a young Connected Generation that has new ideas about how to give back. Today's volunteers want to give their time and talent instead of simply writing a check. Modern volunteer associations combine fresh structures with fun people and a chance to make direct, meaningful connections with the community. These new giving models are igniting a generation and making their volunteer efforts convenient, high impact, and more emotionally satisfying.

Numbers six through ten give us hope for the church. Where else will this generation find an underground, connected group of folks who (6) have discovered something new and are translating it to satisfy a much wider audience, (7) are attempting to spark change, (8) seek to create emotional connections , (9) look for the sacred in the secular, and (10) offer meaningful, emotionally satisying ways to give back?

Keep trying, marketers of brands and products, but you'll never match the one thing that can satisfy every hungry generation -- The Pursuit Of God In The Company Of Friends, as my friend Rich Lamb put it so well.


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