We can’t teach you 99 tech tricks to turbocharge your day or how to open a banana like a monkey…but we CAN provide you with some of the secrets to capturing the minds, hearts and (digital) wallets of Gen Z, the generation marketers can no longer afford to ignore. Considering Gen Z is the first generation to be raised with the iPhone, Netflix and Snapchat, one might imagine that the secret to solving your generational marketing woes is the screen. But… Not so fast. Press pause and stay awhile.
W Hotels is generally credited with founding the boutique hotel movement. This movement helped kickstart personalization in hospitality by introducing smaller properties that could afford to be nimble and answer to the whims of their guests (the chain trademarked its “Whatever/Whenever” motto). But W was the exception, not the rule. Even while it was refashioning itself in the “boutique” mindset, Westin — its sister Starwood brand — was touting consistency as a its strongpoint.
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.
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few months or so, we get a summary report that a particular technology, marketing strategy or consumer mindset is now outdated (usually as of last night) and become one with the dinosaurs and Elvises.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).
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.
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.
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.
Once upon a time, at the height of the Mad Men era, an American marketing professor and author named Jerome McCarthy was hard at work and introduced the concept of “The Four Ps” of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion). Since the years of shift dresses, mid-century modern appointed Madison Avenue offices that permitted smoking, the 4 Ps have become a ubiquitous and timeless staple of marketing that has never gone out of style.
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”.