Ecommerce tends to take its triumphs a little for granted these days. There’s talk of how the “Amazon Effect” has upended the traditional “offline” customer journey, rendering it obsolete. There’s the implicit notion that a customer will no longer just mosey over to their favorite store, pick out a shirt they like, try it on in the fitting room, wait in line to buy it and then purchase it from an actual, live salesperson — certainly not in a world with 100 million loyal Amazon Prime members and counting.
Hey, kids! For today’s #marketing lesson, I’m going to teach you a new dirty word. Feel free to exclaim it at the dinner table, sing it in the shower or shout it from the rooftops so all your neighbors can hear. But seriously, don’t use it online. Especially if you happen to be a member of the e-commerce team of your marketing department. Because this particular double-four-letter word is not the word any brand marketer ever wants to hear: “DISCOUNT”.
Gen Zers depend on social media to connect with brands. That’s just a fact of life. The majority of North American tweens, high schoolers and collegiates (one recent study shows it to be 80 percent) believe social media influences what they buy online or in-store.
There was a time — not so long ago — when Enron executives were collectively known by their clients as “the smartest guys in the room.” There was a more-recent time when Volkswagen held an unimpeachable track record for emissions safety — until the so-called Dieselgate scandal came to light, sending its stock prices plummeting by 40 percent. There was even a time, at least before the release of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” when Jay-Z thought his street cred and talents as a rapper would keep his personal brand untouchable.
For millions of Gen Zers studying at college, a well-priced offer means the difference between affording - or not affording - a new computer, nice clothing, memorable nights out on the town, or a plane ticket home. Students love to save on what they buy - and marketers know it. A quick journey to any corner of the internet will reveal a near-endless supply of coupons, discounts and one-time sales events geared specifically towards students.
As Seth Godin once put it, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” But with the rapid rise of online coupon and discount affiliate marketing programs to drive ecommerce, the conversation around “what it means” to be a brand is shifting - and not necessarily for the better.
Across the board, the surveys all say that Gen Z feels confident about its future - and believes it can “change the world” when it comes to creating a more equal society. As a recent study on Gen Zers from Barkley and Futurecast suggests, brands appealing to Gen Z's innate belief in equality – as well as those that find ways to benefit and contribute to the future success of its individual members – stand a greater chance of gaining recognition and traction with the larger demographic.
The first thing that comes to mind about Gen Z is that they're in the habit of picking up nicknames. Marketers have already begun labeling them the iGen, Centennials and – of course – Gen Zers. But however you choose to address these youngsters, they're already beginning to make their voices (and consumer tastes) known at colleges and universities from coast to coast - and continent to continent.
Gen Zers might be less inclined to watch the Super Bowl than previous generations (this doesn’t mean they aren’t watching it by the tens of millions), but they love basketball more than anyone, millennials included. That’s great news for NCAA March Madness sponsors, but the trick - as ever - remains in winning over their much-divided attention.