Tag Archives: branding

“Disrupted” Author Gives Advice on iGen Marketing

My last post was a review of Disrupted, which I  like a lot. So does my president. He told his cabinet members to read it. At a recent conference of college presidents, he recommended it to his colleagues.

I’ve recommended to everyone in the business.
I sought out author Stefan Pollack to do a Huffington Post piece about it. You can check out the full article there or just cut to our question/answer session below. Stefan kindly indulged me last week while he was on vacation.

Five questions about his findings and the future of marketing/advertising.
1. Why have you labeled people born after 1994 the “iGen generation?
Until now, most circles have labeled this generation Z, but based upon my observations there is enough of a generation gap between Y and this generation, that they needed a proper title. iGen describes quite a bit in just a few letters: they are inherently mobile, they value individuality, they are unique compared to the working generations of Y, Z and Boomers. The name also implicitly nods to Apple’s iPhone and iPad, which, among other forces, helped instigate the great communications disruption of the last decade, empowering this generation to lead brands into a consumer-controlled environment.
2. How large is the disruption created by this new consumer generation?
To be clear, while iGen has certainly created a disruption in the marketing world, the reality is they are natives of a post-disrupted environment. They don’t know a world apart from this intuitively mobile and consumer-driven one in which we currently live. iGen grew up knowing they have the entirety of human knowledge on small devices in their pockets. The consequences are staggering. Never before could a generation completely and totally omit a brand from their consumer decision-making process—they can find out anything and everything without consuming one iota of traditional media or brand-controlled messaging. This is probably the largest disruption our industry has ever witnessed.
3. What do companies and colleges need to do to communicate with these consumers?
The most important thing brands can do is listen. Identify the target audience and listen to them, learn their behaviors, their wants and needs, and deduce how a brand or message can coexist or nurture that lifestyle—then a brand or message will be relevant to iGen. Additionally, companies can identify influencers that iGen already listens to and capture their attention with a message, however they will concede control of the message once the influencer becomes an advocate.
4. What do we need to keep them?
Simple: be transparent, authentic, and honest. iGen and digital natives are the bloodhounds of consumers—they can spot disingenuous marketing long before it reaches them. However, once a brand or idea is embraced by iGen, they become fearless advocates and behave as influencers in their vast networks.
5. What will advertising and marketing look like in five years?
At the velocity of current trends, advertising and marketing will need to adapt to correct for the massive ad-avoidance rates. Now that people are mobile, their attention is moving from TV and print to their devices. Mobile marketing will continue to be a leading force in the industry, but it will need to be targeted—both demographically and geographically. Specific niches, such as video and music streaming, augmented reality, and location-based promotions, have tremendous potential for success. iGen is not adverse to marketing or advertising as long as it is relevant and authentic. The days of sandblasting a controlled message and hoping that enough of it sticks are over. Marketers must be accurate with their analysis of target audiences and use only tools that appeal to them.


My Turquoise Ring: A Brand Story

I wear a turquoise ring on the third finger of my right hand. I’ve had it for a couple decades. I discovered it in a kiosk in our local mall.

I have long, thin fingers and most men’s rings are too large, but I tried it on and it fit as if it were made just for me.

I thought it was too expensive, though,  and put it back.
I stopped by two weeks later. The price on it had dropped 25%. I decided if it was made for me, it would wait for me.
Sure enough, in another two weeks the ring was still there with an even greater discount.
I took a calculated risk, waited until it dropped another 15%. . . and bought it.
Over the years, many people have commented on it and asked me if I bought it out west. I’m always  honest and tell them the real story, which, in a mystical way, I think is much more interesting.

This ring waited for me!

In every single case I watch their expressions of anticipation melt into disappointment. They want to hear about a New Mexico Indian reservation and how I bought it from a native American artisan in the quiet glow of the sun setting over the golden plains.

That’s the image attached to turquoise.  It’s embedded so deeply into our minds and culture that any other story is a disappointment.

I recently became a trustee at our regional public broadcasting station.  Before a meeting I was talking with another newly named board member, a man obviously very cultured and well-traveled.  Making conversation he pointed to my ring: “I see you’ve been to Santa Fe.”

I thought it over quickly.  “Yes, I have.”  It wasn’t a lie.    We began exchanging stories of our travels there, the jewelry, how Santa Fe has grown, the beauty of New Mexico.

Some brands are so strong  that the myth is reality.

And the truth is just not worth the disappointment.