Consumer Marketing

Is Gen Z the “shiny new object” of marketers’ affection?

“Shiny Object Syndrome” is referred to in PR & Marketing Land as the attraction to hot new buzzworthy tactics that distract us from what we know to be tried and true, solid strategic programming.

Typically, this term is used in PR and marketing trades in association with trends and tools like Snapchat, Facebook Live or influencer marketing, but today I can’t help but wonder if our next shiny object is not a trend or tool, but an entire audience. Are we unnecessarily obsessing over Gen Z?

This question started swirling around in my brain the other day when a colleague shared an article from AdWeek entitled, “Fullscreen’s Research Finds Gen Z Enjoys Branded Content More than Millennials.” Interesting findings, sure, but it was quite possibly the 897th article I’d read in the past week on this same topic. Hyperbole aside, articles about this mysterious generation have been popping up everywhere, and in relation to every topic. Just from the previous month’s worth of Google News, you could find out “what employers should know about Gen Z,” “what Gen Z restaurant

Consumer Marketing

Is the Amazon Effect Coming to Health Care?

I think it’s safe to say that Amazon is a household name for most American consumers. There’s also a name for the disruptive impact the company has had on consumers and businesses alike — the Amazon Effect.

For brick and mortar retailers, the Effect has resulted in store closings, supplier price re-negotiations, and weak attempts to mimic the Amazon distribution model. It’s even having a ripple effect on grocery shopping, since retailers like Walmart have had to re-energize food and beverage sales to compensate for merchandise revenue lost to e-commerce.

So what does all this have to do with health care?

Amazon has been toying with the idea of breaking into the multi-billion pharmacy market for years. And according to a recent article, it’s getting more serious. Amazon is investing in new executive health talent, including Mark Lyons from Premera Blue Cross, and they’re already selling medical supplies and equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs, heart and oxygen monitors and wound care supplies. Sure, prescription medications will present some new regulatory hurdles, but somehow I think Mr. Bezos will be undeterred.

If successful, Amazon’s latest plans will cause the greatest…

Higher Education

Bold Programs Affect Change in #HigherEd

Illustration: Oliver Munday/New Yorker

With tuition on the rise and other roadblocks ahead, a four-year degree seems increasingly unattainable to some. For undocumented students in many states across the U.S., the hurdle is set much higher.

A recent Buzz Bin by my colleague Christian Munson details how one school is helping students learn the skills they need to be employable, all without paying a dime of tuition up front.

This got me thinking about a few things: what holds students back from going to school? Are desired student outcomes being met? What are schools doing to address students’ concerns? And, what are they doing to make sure current and prospective students know they care?

Then, I read an article in the New Yorker’s May 22, 2017 issue: An Underground College for Undocumented Immigrants. I learned that while admission to (and paying for) college seems a daunting task for many students, undocumented immigrants in three states (Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia) are actually denied access to public colleges. Many more do not allow for in-state tuition rates or state financial aid for…

Crisis Management

Prepare Now for Fake News Firestorms

“Fake news” heightens the confusion in our cluttered media landscape. If you get caught up in a fake news firestorm, that confusion becomes a serious challenge for your brand and business.

Most U.S. adults (64 percent) agree that fake news has left them confused about basic facts of current events, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Also striking: only 39 percent are very confident in their ability to recognize fake news, and nearly one in four have shared fake news.

During the recent presidential election, misquotes of Pepsi and New Balance’s CEOs led to boycotts and shoe burning. Coca-Cola’s Dasani faced bogus reports of parasites in its water, and McDonalds dealt with the fallout from a hijacked Twitter feed.

It’s enough just to be next to the fake news. Fiat Chrysler felt the heat when its programmatic native advertising aligned ads with fake news stories.

Fake news impacts both reputation and the bottom line. The Pepsi issue was the event that most negatively impacted the company’s reputation in 2016. A month after the incident,…

Wine, Food & Nutrition

Step Aside Diet Foods, Holistic Health is What’s Trending

The popularity of “diet foods” is fading fast. Consumers are now looking for a more holistic approach to health and wellness, with a focus on fresher and more natural ingredients. Recent Mintel data supports the changing dieting landscape, noting that consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical about diet products, and turning to a well-balanced eating plan and purchasing products that support improved health instead. In fact, of the 2,000 individuals surveyed, 94 percent of respondents no longer saw themselves as dieters – a significant shift from the days when Jenny Craig and NutriSystem commercials dominated our favorite television programs.

Given this shift in consumer behavior, and the overall decline in dieting, food companies have been forced to reevaluate how to best market their products, looking toward a more holistic approach to health.  For example, Lean Cuisine has put new labels on products that were already cholesterol-free or gluten-free without changing product formulation, because these terms help to reinforce the holistic health message that consumers now so desperately seek. Similarly, Weight Watchers’ point system now emphasizes “natural” fare and home-cooked meals. Terms like all natural, gluten-free, no preservatives, antibiotic-free, and non-GMO are popping up on labels left and right,…