Weekly Recap - December 14, 2018

Woman using a mobile phone.

Answer Me

When consumers post comments, they expect a response. In a recent survey of 532 U.S. social media users, most participants expected companies to use social media to respond to consumers' social media comments about the brand. And quickly. Most (76%) expected companies to respond to comments on social media, and 83% expected the responses to appear within one day (Clutch.co, 1 November 2018).

+Millennials have even higher expectations. 80% expected brands to use social media to respond to comments, 90% within one day. Almost half expected brands to respond within an hour. What's at stake? Only reputation. 45% of participants said they would "view a brand more positively if it responded to negative comments on social media," and 72% were likely to recommend a company if they had enjoyed a positive social media experience with it.

Mobile Missteps

Mobile-paying Millennials are more reckless with their personal finances. American Millennials who use their phones to make payments are more likely to misstep, financially, than their peers who don't make mobile payments, per a recent study by George Washington University School of Business (Qz.com, 9 November 2019). Millennial mobile payers are more likely to use financial products such as bank accounts, credit cards and retirement accounts, but they're also "more likely to overdraw their checking accounts, use credit cards expensively, borrow through alternative financial services, and withdraw from their retirement accounts," according to the study report.

+Maybe mobile makes it too easy to spend? "In the data we do not have information about what explains that behavior but making payments easy and mindless may induce people to spend more," said professor Annamaria Lusardi, the study's lead author. 25% of Millennials who use their phones to track spending had overdrawn their checking accounts — versus 20% of those who don't track their spending via smartphone. Young depositors need personal finance education STAT.

Get Physical

Millennials shop online but they also enjoy physical stores. Millennials weren't supposed to shop at brick and mortar stores, and now they're being credited for reviving them. They like to toggle between online and IRL, hunting bargains and being social.

+Nearly half (48%) of Millennials shop in brick-and-mortar stores at least once a week, according to a Euclid survey (SG.Finance.Yahoo.com, 18 November 2018). They are also more likely than either Gen Xers or Boomers to hit the malls on Black Friday. And while they make 54% of their holiday purchases online, when Cyber Monday rolls around Millennials are more likely than other gens to shop in-store.

Media In 2019

What marketers can expect in 2019: Media consumption. As we near the end of the year, we begin to question the year to come. What is next? What can we do to prepare? Specifically, where is media going in 2019?

Tele No

Online patient portals: Why aren't patients using them? A recent report from researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health revealed that 63% of patients surveyed were not using online patient portals. With 90% of health care organizations offering portal access to their patients, why are so many patients ignoring them?

Weekly Recap - November 30, 2018

Digital technology use in the U.S. peaks.

Tech Peaks

Consumers' use of digital technologies has plateaued. The growth of U.S. consumers using cellphones, smartphones, social media, the internet and computers has stalled, according to Pew (PewResearch.org, 28 September 2018). Between 2016 and 2018 there was zero growth of cellphone (95%) and smartphone ownership (77%) and social media use (69%). Internet use grew just slightly, from 88% to 89%, and desktop/laptop ownership dropped from 78% to 73%.

+The slowdown is related to near-saturation levels — especially for cellphones, smartphones and internet use — in groups that include college graduates, consumers age 18 to 49 and consumers with household income of at least $75,000. Cellphone ownership in these three groups, respectively, is 97%.

Woke

Millennials don't hit their "financial awakening" until age 33. Millennials are notorious for delaying major life milestones like marriage and kids. True to form, their "financial awakening" is also behind schedule: age 33, on average, according to an Ally Financial survey (NYPost.com, 5 November 2018). This surprises no one. It's been tough for consumers born in the '80s to accumulate wealth, because Great Recession.

+Millennials' monthly expenditures on everything from basics (rent and utilities) to student loans, medical costs, entertainment and travel add up to a hefty $2,165/month or $25,980/year. That means the average Millennial must make about $53,000 just to be comfortable — a figure still out of reach for many. Millennials might do better if they were more financially savvy. Just 35% feel confident about doing their own retirement planning, investing and taxes. 55% could use some help, and half fear they'll never be able to retire.

Banked and Mobile

The ranks of unbanked consumers are shrinking, while mobile banking rises.In 2017, the number of U.S. households without a savings or checking account fell to 6.5%, 0.5% lower than 2015 and the lowest level since 2009, according to an FDIC survey (Pymnts.com, 24 October 2018). While that may be bad news for tech expansionists, it's good news for the U.S. economy.

+"This decline can be attributed almost entirely to improvements in the economic circumstances of U.S. households," the study authors write. 34% of consumers who remain unbanked cite lack of funds as the primary reason for their status, while 12.6% simply don't trust banks and 8.6% balk at hefty bank fees. And 18.7% of households are in the underbanked gray zone; they have at least one traditional bank account but also get other financial services outside the banking system. While the ranks of unbanked consumers are shrinking, the number of Americans using mobile banking continues to rise, from 23.2% in 2013 to 40.4% in 2017.

Trending

What marketers can expect in 2019: Health and Wellness. What was hot in health and well-known in wellness for 2018 might not carry into the new year. As 2019 approaches, brands should reflect on the messages they want to bring with them. And those to leave behind.

Heartbeat takes health tech from wearable to useful. Wearable tech. We take it to the gym, out for a run. We swim with it, bike with it, walk the dog with it. We take it to work, disguised as a tasteful accessory. We even sleep with it. Why? Because we're obsessed with data—and there's no data more fascinating to us than our own personal health information.

Weekly Recap - November 16, 2018

Weeklly Recap - November 16, 2018

Parental Optimism

Doing better than your folks was once a standard benchmark of American life. But that hasn't been the case for a while. About 50% of consumers born in 1984 were earning more at age 30 than their parents did, down from 92% in 1940, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study (PBS.org, 2 October 2018).

+Offspring optimism is similarly on the decline. Gen We and Younger Millennial consumers are skeptical about their earning potential. Just half of 15- to 26-year-olds expect to eventually exceed their parents' household income, 29% expect to be on par with the 'rents and 20% think they'll be worse off (AP-NORC poll, Oct. 2018). But parents are still optimistic. Some 60% predict that their kids will eventually earn more than they do.

Big Kids, Bigger Expenses

Just because an adult kid moves out doesn't mean she'll stop asking her parents for financial help. The Great Recession prompted many grown-up kids to go back home. Mom and dad have been known to help with the down payment for junior's first home. Some parents carry car insurance and data plans ad infinitum. Turns out, the most expensive stage of parenting after kids leave the nest.

+U.S. parents collectively spend about $500 billion each year on their 18- to 35-year-old offspring, according to a Merrill Lynch survey (ScaryMommy.com, 12 October 2018). The burden is pretty evenly distributed. A whopping 79% of all parents provide some type of financial support to their adult kids, from big-ticket items like weddings to helping in a pinch with groceries and car repairs. Most are happy to help, though 63% say it's given them some grief. Still, 75% continue put their children's needs before their own retirement funds and 93% say "it's worth every penny."

Cause Over Culture

Millennials are more likely to support causes than arts and culture. They care more about social issues like marriage equality and the environment than supporting museums, zoos, symphonies and other cultural institutions. Support for arts and culture dipped sharply in 2014, as more Millennials started to enter the 35- to 54-year-old age cohort, according to an Impacts study of cause priorities (ColleenDilen.com, 3 October 2018).

+Millennials are especially wary of aquariums and zoos, which they perceive more negatively than older generations. 45% of Millennials think dolphin shows are cruel to dolphins, for instance, compared with 25% of older consumers. But lack of support from young consumers cuts across all institutions.

Activated

What marketers can expect in 2019: Cause marketing. Consumers activism is on the rise, and with it brand expectations. Consumers want brands to make good products and do good, positively impacting society and the environment.

Weekly Recap - November 2, 2018

Consumers who are overwhelmed with screen exposure may soon be able to buy glasses that block TV, computer and other screens.

Follow the Leader

Millennials and Boomers look for different values in cultural leaders. Young adults are inspired by leaders with talent and a solid social justice platform, like Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Steph Curry. Older consumers are more likely to follow those who command authority (FastCompany.com, 27 September 2018). These findings come from a survey conducted for ad agency Enso.

+Respondents ranked 100 influencers, from the Pope to US presidents. Many of the names were polarizing. Boomers gave Tom Brady and Tiger Woods much higher ratings than Millennials did. Mark Zuckerberg placed 31 spots lower with Millennials — his own generation — than with Boomers. The difference may be because internet-dependent Millennials feel betrayed by tech leaders on privacy issues. Older generations aren't as invested in the issue. Enso's founders see the list as proof of a changing worldview—from material to social virtues.

Protective Lenses

IRL Glasses shield consumers from screens' visual noise. Consumers craving a break from screens may find relief in screen-blocking sunglasses. The so-called IRL Glasses, which grabbed attention when the developers recently launched a Kickstarter campaign, use polarized optics technology.

+In the current, beta version of the glasses, polarized lenses have been rotated 90 degrees and flattened to block light from LCD and LED screens (Wired.com, 7 October 2018). So, when consumers don the glasses, most TVs appear to be off, even if they're not. The glasses also block some computer screens. The glasses' developers hope to eventually partner with optics-industry leaders on the development of glasses that block all screens.

Out-Sourced

Politically passionate consumers show bias toward news. Consumers with even the most extreme political views have at least one thing in common; they base the accuracy of news on their preferred sources (NYTimes.com, 26 September 2018). The Knight Foundation and Gallup created an experimental website to gather consumer reactions to news content. Participants rated the trustworthiness of content on a five-point scale.

+Articles on economics, politics and science were drawn from media outlets representing the political spectrum, including the New York Times and Vox on the left, and Fox News and Breitbart News on the right. According to the survey report, participants were less trusting of channels with source attribution: "The difference between no source and source conditions is statistically significant. This finding may suggest that source attribution lowers content trustworthiness by reminding users of personal preferences and biases toward particular sources."

I'll Drink to That

Why two Michigan breweries are joining forces to boost our local beer scene. While some businesses choose to cannibalize, two Michigan brewers are choosing to collaborate. The deal may be the first of its kind, and hopefully not the last.

Weekly Recap - October 26, 2018

Facebook users are conflicted, Millennials gifted and Gen We

News To Me

Americans increasingly rely on social media for news—especially Facebook. Pew Research recently asked more than 4,500 U.S. adults where they go for news. Nearly half (47 percent) say they often or sometimes rely on social media, with Facebook being the most popular choice (43 percent), followed by YouTube (21 percent) and Twitter (12 percent). But more than half of the social-media-news consumers consider the information "largely inaccurate."

+But what about that Cambridge Analytic scandal? Are consumers indifferent about data breaches, fake news and Russian trolls? Apparently. Two-thirds (68 percent) of adults use Facebook today, unchanged from April 2016 when the Center last checked in. Three-quarters of users check in at least once a day. Because news.

Holidazed

Millennials love the holidays and have the receipts to prove it. Millennials have been driving holiday shopping for some time now, spending nearly $800 on gifts and goodies compared with around $650 for the average Joe, according to an Accenture survey (BusinessWire.com, 1 October 2018). Nearly half expect to dial it up this season, compared to just 13 percent of Boomers.

+Ready to host or not... Life stage explains a lot here. Millennials are young parents, playing Santa and assuming family dinner duties. This means stocking up on chafing dishes, folding chairs and decorations—items that couldn't argue their way onto wedding gift registries. 60 percent of Millennials plan to host a holiday meal or party compared to 40 percent of Boomers.

Home Schooled

Gen We learn how not to do homeownership from Millennials. Most (83 percent) of 19- to 23-year-old consumers plan to purchase a home within the next five years, per a PropertyShark survey. (CBSNews.com, 11 September 2018). And they're determined to avoid Millennial missteps, like raiding retirement funds to make a down payment or taking out a mortgage that's too big for the household budget.

+Both gens cite student debt as the biggest obstacle on the road to homeownership, but it's more of a burden for Gen We (32 percent) than Millennials (17 percent). And though the lure of big-city lights draws more Gen We consumers (40 percent) than Millennials (30 percent), fully 60 percent of the younger group plan to bypass major metros for more affordable, kid-friendly suburbs.

Big Spender?

What marketers can expect in 2019: Money & Spending. Will consumers spend confidently into 2019 or save more? Depends on which generation you're asking.

Winsta

5 ways marketers can stand out on Instagram. How to do your brand Instagram account better.

What marketers can expect in 2019: Money & Spending.

Money and spending

Learning America's mindset on money and spending is critical for planning a 2019 marketing strategy, especially for banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.

First, let's talk about 2018:

  • The Good News: Americans are working. In September, unemployment hit 3.7%, its lowest point since 1969. U.S. worker productivity continues to rise, which is helping out the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts growth of 3.1% in the GDP for the year, up from 2.2% in 2017.

  • The Bad News: Housing demand fell in 2018, and in October, the mortgage rate rose to 5%, the highest in 7 years—an alarming trend for future home shoppers. In addition, banks got stingier with credit card lending. Luckily, consumers have become warier about buying on credit anyway.

Now, as the country's therapist might say (if we had one), "How do we FEEL about that?" Overall, the polarized political climate and general chaos has the country a little jittery. Businesses are on edge waiting for the latest political moves on trade. Trust in our institutions is at a low ebb — and that goes for financial institutions, too.

2019 for millennials and Gen Xers: With greater economic and political clout, these groups are going to start demanding change from the government and financial institutions. Americans owe more than $1.2 trillion (yes, trillion) in student loans, and most of it is owed by millennials. Aging Gen Xers are increasingly concerned with the rising costs of healthcare. And everyone wants more transparency in financial services.

Your strategy:

Technology is key. Branch visits for millennials are generally reserved for big events like applying for a mortgage (and increasingly, even that is done online). If they have a question, they're going to look online first, so make sure it's easy for them to find the answers.

Apps for saving and investing, like Digit and Stash, mean that all tech-savvy customers have plenty of non-bank options. Banks or credit unions that don't have an easy-to-use app are at a distinct disadvantage.

Millennials still digging out from student loan debt are going to have a harder time buying their first home. Provide education on low- or no-down-payment programs like FHA or VA loans, and you could help get them in the door (and win their trust).

2019 for Baby Boomers

As a group, boomers are way behind on retirement saving. Worrying about what the government might do with Social Security and healthcare isn't helping matters. No wonder about 60% of boomers plan on working past 65.

Financial companies are aware of this, as evidenced by E*Trade's humorous TV ads in the 2018 SuperBowl:

But don't assume all working boomers want to retire but can't. Some continue working because they want to. And some retire from their first career, but move on to newer, more fulfilling work.

Your strategy:

Offer options for last-minute retirement investing, but keep in mind that this group may also be in the market for help with long-delayed career dreams: owning their own small businesses, for example, or even going back to school. Life expectancy in the U.S. is 76 years for men and 81 for women, and you can only play so much golf.

An uncertain future

The CBO predicts a slowdown in economic growth in 2019, so consumers of all ages will be more cautious with money. Plan your marketing strategy carefully to convince them you're worth the investment.

Weekly Recap - October 12, 2018

Social, but surreal; Gen Z is serious and SEO in 6 steps

Social-Lite

A surreal social media experience. Want to cut back on social media consumption but aren't willing to quit cold turkey? Try Binky, which offers streams, scrolls and swipes without connecting to actual people. Or wipe the slate clean with Safebook, which erases all of Facebook's content, but keeps the platform's "likes" and other interactive prompts fully functional inside blue-gray boxes.

+It's meta, on purpose. "I find it uncanny how well I can still navigate the site with Safebook installed," says Ben Grosser, the artist/provocateur who created the Chromebook/Firefox extension. "Sure, I don't know what someone posted — or who posted it — but I can still perform the daily labor of liking my friend's posts" (FastCompany.com, 12 September 2018). Exposing the bare-bones functionality that keeps Facebook users clicking is an object lesson in manipulation. "This shows how the design of the Facebook interface is driving much of our daily interaction with it, that it has taught us what to do," says Grosser. "The entire system is constructed in a way that will always make possible (even, possibly, encourage?) threats to privacy, health and democracy."

Steady as Z Goes

Gen Z students seek safe, secure career tracks. Philosophy are harder to find on campus these days. Daunted by the long-tail of student loan debt, Gen Z undergrads remain wary of the recovering economy and are opting for more secure paths to steady careers.

+Don't care much about history. Once-popular majors like history, literature and religion started plummeting after the Great Recession and never really recovered, according to an analysis by Northeastern University historian Benjamin Schmidt (Qz.com, 29 August 2018). The decline of humanities reflects "a new set of student priorities, which are being formed even before they see the inside of a college classroom," writes Schmidt. The priorities are pretty specific. Exercise science was the fastest-growing major in 2017, up 131% since 2008. Other popular choices include nursing (up 78%), health and medicine (up 57%) and computer science (up 50%).

Ready. Set. SEO.

It's Google's internet; We just search here. Search engines are precious about the results they serve. So, if you publish web content and want prospects to see it, you need to abide by search engine rules. While there are many tips to consider, we've prioritized the most important ones to give your content a much needed boost in rankings: 6 SEO best practices every blog should have.

Weekly Recap - October 5, 2018

Weekly Recap

Exploring Other Options

Younger consumers are more likely than older gens to break up with Facebook. The Cambridge Analytica scandal prompted many Facebook users to take action to protect their data. 54% of all Facebook users age 18 and older adjusted their privacy settings in the past year, according to a Pew survey (PewResearch.org, 4 September 2018). 42% take frequent breaks from the platform, and 26% have deleted the app on their smartphones. All told, 74% of Facebook users have taken at least one of those three precautionary steps.

+Gen Z and Younger Millennial are especially leery. 44% of 18- to 29-year-olds deleted their Facebook phone app in the past year, compared with just 12% of users age 65 and older. And just a third of 65+ consumers have adjusted their Facebook privacy settings, compared with 64% of younger users. This is the same cohort that is voluntarily cutting back on screen time in the name of mental health.

Lockered Up

Back-to-school season has been good to brick-and-mortar stores this year, and mobile retailers too. The average household will spend $510 per household on school supplies this year, up from $501 in 2017, according to a Deloitte survey (CMO.com, 5 September 2018). Traditional retail stores are expected to lead the class as 71% of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop in-store (Morning Consult).

+It could be that parents and kids enjoy shopping together for backpacks, calculators and crayons. 77% start shopping at least three weeks before school opens, up from just 64% a decade ago, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Kids definitely want their sway. They are projected to influence $21 million worth of back-to-school shopping in 2018, according to the Deloitte survey. What does this mean? Experience can trump convenience (Amazon) and kids know how to work it.

Devout but Different

Most Americans are religious, but their beliefs are shifting over time. Pew Research Center has been studying how Americans view religion for several years. Personal beliefs about religion can have an impact on how consumers behave, whether in the voting booth or supermarket. Pew organized believers into seven religious types—from highly devoted Sunday Stalwarts to Solidly Secular (PewResearch.org, 29 August 2018).

+Both ends of the spectrum cut across the swath of organized religions. Stalwarts are mostly Protestants, but include Catholics, Mormons and Jews, while the Solidly Secular cohort includes people who identify as Protestant, Catholic and Jewish. These findings reflect the fact that younger generations may profess the same faith as their parents, but don't always share the ways they practice or view social issues. The bottom line? Americans cluster in three primary groups that include all seven types: "highly religious" (39%); "somewhat religious" (32%); and "non-religious" (29%).

Weekly Recap - September 14, 2018

Email is getting the best of Millennials, Boomers going broke

Hopelessly Devoted to "Inbox Zero"

Young, professional Millennials check their email more often than any other age group. For one-third of 25-34 year olds, the Sisyphean quest for "inbox zero" begins even before they get out of bed (Adobe Consumer Email Survey, CNBC.com, 22 August 2018). They check email in the bathroom (39 percent), while dining with friends (28 percent), at weddings (12 percent) and on vacation (23 percent). At the end of the day, white collar Millennials spend an average 6.4 hours desperately trying to answer every email they receive—about 100 emails. So it should surprise no one that most (two-thirds) feel overwhelmed every day at work Gallup.com, 19 July 2018).

+ Employers are feeling it too. Significant attrition of the Millennial variety recently prompted PwC to reconsider its pressure cooker culture. The international consulting company commissioned a global generational study to stem the tide of resignations. PwC has since introduced several flexible-hours options—something young employees covet more than complimentary avocado toast (2018 Udemy report). Turns out what's good for the Millennial employee is good for all. PwC's workplace is reportedly happier and healthier than ever.

Golden Years, Rusted

When financial recovery seems futile, Boomers seek relief from bankruptcy court.

The Great Recession has dulled the glow of the promised "golden years" for millions of middle-class boomers. So they're appealing to the court of last resort: bankruptcy (WSJ.com, 7 August 2018).

+ Since 1991, the number of Americans ages 65-74 filing for bankruptcy has more than tripled—from 2.1 percent to 12. 2 percent of all consumers, according to a Social Science Research Network study. Meanwhile, the clock isn't working in their favor. Bankrupt older consumers have little chance of recovering; the median debt for 65+ filers is $101,600, three times the amount younger filers owe. Silver lining? Their Xer children have recovered from the Great Recession. Son, spot me a nest egg?

Modeling Modest Behavior

Millennial men expect become millionaires while Millennial women seek balance and flexibility. Young women (ages 21 to 37) entering today's fairly robust jobs market have far more modest financial goals than their male counterparts. She aims to earn an annual salary of $58,000, nearly half of what he expects ($118,000/year), according to a TD Ameritrade study (CNBC.com, 9 August 2018).

+ What gives? It's partly because more women expect to prioritize family during their peak earning years. "Men tend to value money and feel more pressure to provide for a family," says Chris Bohlsen, director of investor services at TD Ameritrade. "For women, it's time and flexibility. The long-term goal is having that work-life balance." Women are also lacking female financial role models—few have even broken into the wide open fintech blog space.

Discounts, Promos and Plastics

Cosmetic surgery advertising has gone unabashedly retail, employing tactics that would make some used car salesmen blush. Given the personal stakes—self-esteem, anxiety, confidence—should plastic surgeons be held to a higher marketing standard?

Weekly Recap - August 31, 2018

Generation X

Slackers, My Assets

Generation X is the only generation to have recovered wealth lost during the Great Recession. The Great Recession took a great toll on Gen X homeowners. Largely inexperienced buyers, they bought high and experienced significant declines in home equity when the market collapsed. Yet a Pew Research Center analysis of Federal Reserve data finds that they are now the only generation to have recovered that wealth (PewResearch.org, 23 July 2018).

+ Gen X households' median net worth decreased 38 percent from 2007 ($63,400) to 2010 ($39,200). Wealth loss by Boomers was significantly smaller by comparison (26 percent). Since 2010, the median net worth of Gen X households has risen 115 percent. That means that in 2016, the latest year with available data, the net worth of a typical Gen X household surpassed what it was in 2007 ($84,200 vs. $63,400). A major reason for the rebound: rising home equity levels. The median wealth of Boomer households is still lower than 2007 levels, but their wealth still exceeds that of Gen X.

I'm Done Talking to You, Alexa

More consumers choose privacy over convenience of omnipresent devices (ODs). Hands-free technologies such as voice control make it possible to dice vegetables while DJing for party guests without missing a beat. Play that funky music, Google Home. Consumers loved the idea back in the 2016s when CEB Iconoculture asked about the appeal of voice-controlled tech. More than half of those surveyed eagerly anticipated a post-screen lifestyle where one could simply bark out questions for AI to ponder without the drudgery of a keyboard.

+ But then they got creeped out. Today nearly 3 in 4 consumers (users and non-users of ODs alike) agree that the benefits of using them don't outweigh the privacy risks associated with the behavior (Iconocommunities, March 2018). In fact, privacy concerns prevent people from ever picking up the tech: 2 in 5 consumers who have never used ODs cite privacy concerns as the main factor in their decision to not adopt the technology. Despite growing concerns from consumers, brands base decisions to make use of these technologies (and, subsequently, spend marketing resources to hype up integrations and apps that rely upon them) on highly optimistic projections.

As You Know in Email, One Day You're In. And the next Day, You're Out.

Did you know one in five commercial emails will never make it to an inbox? The reason is complicated, involving sender reputation, IP address, authentication and domains, among other factors. Email is too important a marketing tactic to surrender to chance. We've captured winning email tactics in a breezy guide that will have your content clearing email boxes to addresses at Gmail, corporates and even that one guy who's still on Yahoo (Hi, Uncle Ernie!). In this guide, we unearth everything you ever wanted to know about email marketing, plus tips for every part of the process — from development to deployment. Get the guide.

Gen Z by Any Other Name Is Still Not a Millennial

Wired, wary and willful: Marketing to Gen Z.  Before she trekked to college, we asked our Gen Z intern to conduct a little informal marketing research among her peers. We wanted to get to know this increasingly influential group better—what they value, where they frequent and how to best get their attention. And in what we're learning is true Gen Z fashion, she leaned on technology to quickly craft a survey tool and deploy it to a couple dozen cohorts. See what they had to say here.

Gen Z gets real about marketing.

Gen Z gets real about marketing.

The post Millennial generation Gen Z (aka Gen We), born between 1995 and 2016, makes up over 20 percent of the current U.S. population. So while Gen Z may not be your prime target now, they soon will be. By 2020 Gen Z is set to be the largest generation of consumers, and their spending power already equates to over $140 billion.

I can help. I'm an 18-year-old Gen Zer about to start my first year of college. I reached out to my peers to gather insights to help marketers like you get a better handle on how to connect with Gen Z. I asked about shopping habits, money and preferred social and media channels. I also consulted articles by the Huffington Post and Salesforce for third-party research and trends that influence Gen Z.

Gen Z is not be confused with Millennials

Though older Gen Zers are close in age with young Millennials, there are important key differences to note in the way Gen Z behaves as compared to Millennials. For starters, here are four ways Gen Z differs from Millennials:

Shopping. Though we may be in a digital age, Gen Z actually prefers to shop in store as opposed to Millennials who prefer the simplicity of shopping online. 68 percent of Gen Z surveyed said that they would rather shop in store. That means retail marketers should optimize the in-store experience, providing offers to excite and engage Gen Z.

Money. Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession. They watched the economy crash and many likely watched their parents struggle during this time. This has led Gen Z to be money savvy and conscious of what they spend and where they're spending it. In contrast Millennials tend to care more about the experience of buying the product and less concerned about the cost of it, according to an article by the Huffington Post. So, grab the attention of Gen Z by highlighting deals and steals.

Authenticity. Of course Millennials want brands to be authentic, but Gen Z requires it. The brands that do the best with Gen Z are those that are transparent about their products. How can you be authentic in the eyes of Gen Z?  Show real people using real products. Forget the photo shoots and ditch Photoshop. Capture the raw beauty of life through natural photos. Make Gen Z feel as if they can achieve what's in the photo.

Independence. Whereas Millennials will rage over the hottest brands, Gen Z will not be defined by any one brand. They want a variety of brands and items that allow them to capture their own personality.

Survey says...

Gen Z is always connected. Whether through smartphone, laptop, or even gaming device, we live in a digital age and Gen Z is all about it. When 25 teens (ages 12-18) were asked, 100 percent said that they regularly use their smartphone, and 48 percent reported that they use their phones for 4+ hours a day.

Gen Z

Gen Z

Connectivity is key. Gen Z has major FOMO (fear of missing out) and social media has become there way of always being present.

Gen Z has no time to waste. Long ads and slow load time are not worth the wait.

Gen Z

The best social platform to market to Gen Z

Instagram!

Fifty-two percent of Gen Zers say that the social media platform that they spend the most time on is Instagram.

Gen Z

On top of that 84 percent of Gen Z follows a brand or company on Instagram.

Gen Z

For more on Gen Z/Gen We, read Gen We expects more from brands on social media.

Weekly Recap - August 24, 2018

Weekly Recap

Editor's note: The Recap got a reboot. Keepin' it fresh.

LET'S TALK ABOUT S&P, BABY

Young couples talk openly about money, which bolsters their relationship. Unlike Boomers, who grew up thinking money was a taboo subject, Millennials are an open book. They're more likely than other workers to disclose their salaries, once a workplace no-no. And for Gen We and Millennial couples, financial transparency rules.

+ Seventy-five percent of 18- to 34-year-old couples talk about money at least once a week, compared with 66 percent of Gen Xers and just 40 percent of Boomers, according to a TD Bank survey (CNBC.com, 27 July 2018). And far from damaging their relationship, it's actually a boon, even when they fight about money. 90 percent of the Gen We and Millennial couples surveyed are extremely or very happy in their relationships.

I'LL TAKE "CRIPPLING DEBT" FOR $100K, ALEX

Student debtors compete on a game show to have their loans Paid Off. Student debt casts a pall over the financial lives of loan holders, both now and into the future. But comedian Michael Torpey has managed to create a game — or more rightly, a game show — focused on student debt. On his truTV show, called Paid Off, student-loan holders compete to have their debt eliminated. (BoingBoing.net, 11 July 2018).

+ Not all fun and games. Although the show is fun, it also makes a serious point. "One of the mantras is 'an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,'" said Paid Off host and creator Torpey. "A game show feels really apt because this is the state of things right now" (FastCompany.com, 11 July 2018). 44 million Americans carry student debt, and the total outstanding amount of those loans grew from $481 billion in the first quarter of 2006 to more than $1.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2018, according to Federal Reserve data.

THIS OLD THING?

Shoppers who feel financially constrained don't talk about their purchases. In a series of seven studies, researchers at Ohio State University, University of Southern California and Dartmouth College found that consumers who are feeling a financial pinch prefer not to talk about their purchases. This effect on word of mouth applied to online and face-to-face conversations, purchases of any size, and discussions with both friends and strangers. The studies didn't focus on how objectively wealthy (or not) the participants were, but rather their perceptions of their financial constraints.

+ Theoretically, consumers might have wanted to talk about what they bought to show their spending ability and feel better about spending. But the research results disproved that hypothesis. "Consumers who feel poor at the moment don't want to talk about their purchases because it reinforces negative feelings about their unpleasant financial state," said Anna Paley, lead researcher and Ohio State University visiting scholar (ScienceDaily.com, 18 June 2018).

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