The rise of the social customer has long been a stereotype that plays into the image of the elderly customer who longs for personal service as the young customer taps away at a phone, seeking information online when a store assistant is just a few feet away.
But there are some big changes ahead related to the age of consumers because of the amount of time the Internet has now been around.
Think for a moment. If you just graduated from university last year and you are in your first real job, paying rent, buying furniture, eating out, and trying to stretch that pay as far as it goes then you are already a genuine consumer -- someone that companies should be thinking about as they try to earn your attention.
But this is a consumer born in the early 1990s, maybe 1992. Someone born in 1992 doesn't remember any time before mobile telephones because even when they were born, their parents could have pulled out a Sony handset (remember them?) and called their family from the hospital. They don't remember any time before the web being completely ubiquitous, because Netscape came along in 1994 and made the Internet easy for everyone to use.
Even people born from around 1980 onwards -- the Millennials -- can have only vague pre-Internet memories because the Internet became easily available to them by early childhood.
These Millennial customers are now becoming a significant part of consumer society -- this is no longer about stereotypes of the young just loving technology. There are some fundamental differences in how people who grew up surrounded by information expect to be treated by retailers -- and this is not going to change anytime soon -- the next generation won't even know what a mouse or keyboard was!