The four Cs – convenience, community, customization and cool – drive the purchasing behavior of an emerging group of web users, the millennial customers.

Such is the assertion of Shaun Young, senior editor of industry and management research at the Economist Intelligence Unit, who identifies such millennial consumers as the approximately 80 million US individuals born between 1982 and 2001.

A survey by the organization indicates four out of ten senior executive said Web 2.0 technologies – such as online forums and webcasts – are the best way to provide services to these consumers.

The company states that while decision makers are aware of the benefits of social media in terms of marketing, they are not yet fully prepared to make the most of them.

Mr Young states: "The four Cs – convenience, customization, community and cool – drive millennial purchasing behavior – and while companies recognize these characteristics, the survey finds they lack the wherewithal to capitalize on them."

In other news, a study by staff at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for the Digital Future found differences in online community membership are becoming increasingly apparent between men and women.