John Wheeler

John Wheeler

Managing Editor, Gen Z Insights

Recent Posts:

E-commerce giants already have what it takes to out-social social media. Here's how.

It doesn't seem to matter how blue-chip your e-commerce platform may be — or how much of a household name your brand is among previous generations. Lots of brands have an "it's complicated" status with Gen Z. If you're one such company, you're in good company. Take eBay for instance. eBay is a far cry from 1995, when — so legend has it — the e-commerce giant sold its very first item online: a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Today’s eBay ranks at 172 among the world’s Fortune 500 companies and has a net revenue of nearly $9.6 billion. Its extant first-party data is the envy of most other e-commerce platforms. Year after year, its machine-learning algorithms manage to captivate and retain the long-term loyalty of millions of buyers and sellers worldwide.

Why Gen Z and loyalty programs aren't (always) perfect matches

Marketers and thought leaders have this odd fixation on proclaiming things “dead.” Every few months or so, we get a summary report that a particular technology, marketing strategy or consumer mindset is now outdated (usually as of last night) and become one with the dinosaurs and Elvises. We’re bombarded with reports about the “death” of programmatic advertising (when in fact there might not be anything of substance to take its place). 

Gen Z will cross mountains, oceans, and international datelines for... #foodporn

In an era where travel gets determined more often by Facebook than by Fodor’s, the definition of “what’s important” to do while vacationing gets blurrier with each passing year. And no single group is redefining what vacation time well-spent means more than Gen Z. With roughly $143 billion at Gen Z students' disposal, it’s high time travel marketers paid closer attention to what activities these new vacationers are looking for.

For Gen Z, online privacy is like bathroom privacy. Respect it.

A few centuries back — long before your great-great-grandma ever bought her first Kindle eBook (just kidding; didn’t happen) — the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote a treatise called The Social Contract. The book’s basic argument ran something like this: Kings, emperors, etc., dukes, etc. — the powerful folks of the 1700s — shouldn’t get to dictate the rules of society without the express consent of the people they governed. Rousseau’s book helped accomplish a whole bunch of things in its time (see the American and French Revolutions). But don’t worry. This isn’t a history quiz. This is about cutting-edge marketing. It’s about how the idea of a “social contract” — and the consequences of violating it — continue to ripple throughout our own data-driven age.

Hey, travel industry: Why not turn student IDs into travel rewards cards?

In case you missed it, the cat is out of the in-flight container: Gen Zers love to travel locally, nationally and globally. A recent global survey of students by UNiDAYS and Ad Age Studio 30 bears this out: an overwhelming 99 percent of Gen Zers have the travel bug in their veins. And with approximately $143 billion in personal income at their disposal, they’re already in a position to circumnavigate the globe millions of times over.

What ecommerce can learn from in-store retail when marketing to Gen Z

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.

How to engage Gen Zers somewhere else besides social media

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.

So you want to create an app for Gen Z? Listen up.

They might live in different countries and continents, but mobile developers share a lingua franca most of their peers can only guess at. A young mobile developer living in Shenzhen, China (home to iDreamSky, the largest mobile game development company in the world) shares the same coding languages of Javascript, Python or C++ as his or her colleagues in London, Kerala or Seattle. They “speak” the same code. And their products compete side by side in the same globally accessible app stores.

When it comes to Gen Z, an always-on strategy is the new preventative PR

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.

How can brands best connect with Gen Zers? By connecting them with their futures.

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.

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