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What Does ‘Brand Love’ Mean to Younger Generations?

Posted By: SGK June 26, 2018

As we think about families in modern society, there are a lot of dynamics that veer away from historic views of males as the breadwinner. Decision making within these households are conducted in a more democratic way — not as hierarchical.

Traditional life stages are evolving toward a less linear model — sometimes opting to have children before marriage, or enter the workforce without finishing college. There is more openness and choice, and less pressure of pursuing traditional models than prior generations had.

The role of technology (particularly Wifi) is changing consumer purchase behavior within those new, less traditional family units. Consumers now expect brands to embrace technology and expect brands to connect their digital and analog journeys while integrating experiences that simplify their on-the-go lifestyles.

While Millennials and Gen Z start to form their own families, it is time as brands to consider how the two generations differ and how to better connect with them in relevant ways. Unlike the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen X who came before; Millennials and Gen Z grew up with social media and video games, and experienced 9/11, school shootings and the pursuit of marriage equality through a very different lens.

For the last several years, there has been a lot of brand language based on “transparency” — however, transparency has now changed to proof — which is a much higher standard. A higher standard for brands to take action if they’re going to win today’s modern consumers. Actions clearly speak louder than words, and proof will be required from brands.

What are the differences between Gen Z and Millennials?

Gen Z have unique characteristics around hard work, thinking about their future, and competition. As we think about Gen Z, they are digital, social and mobile to the core, but possess very traditional views. They’re really old souls in young bodies — which is a very different world view than those who are just 10 years older.

Millennials are highly collaborative, in comparison, Gen Z is highly competitive. Pioneers of social platforms, millennials were a bit naïve as to what they shared on social media in the beginning. Gen Z learned from the mistakes of Millennials and now have their privacy settings on high — this has been true long before Facebook and Cambridge Analytica made headlines. In order to hand over data, Gen Z wants to receive something of value.

While Millennials embrace environmentally friendly movements, including sustainable packaging, in hopes to reduce their carbon footprint, Gen Z embraces inclusivity and equality. Understand, there is a shift in what is important for this consumer group.

Millennials are known for having a short attention span, while Gen Z has redefined the definition. Brand marketers must be faster and contextually relevant when it comes to content marketing. With attention spans shrinking, brands are using emotional connections and innovation to break through.

READ: 4 Key Trends That Define How Millennials Interact With Brands

The reality is, love is a powerful metaphor for what drives brand success. The most successful brands are usually the most loved brands. When it comes to brands, generating love through emotional connections is crucial. During the vast majority of consumer purchases, we make an emotional decision. Typically, consumers don’t sit down with a spreadsheet to help with these decisions, rather we refer back to our preferred brands — those we feel connection and trust.

It’s important to understand today’s modern consumer wants consistency and spontaneity, which makes it very hard for brands since consistency generally fights with spontaneity. Consistency might also instill boredom or fatigue in younger shoppers, and the brand risks becoming too predictable. Today, modern consumers can switch their brand preferences to cater to their spontanious needs.

We do see divergence in terms of consumers with respect to what they say and what they actually do. A recent survey by FutureCast found the following six mindsets are important factors that drive emotional connections with brands:

1. Social Circle — conversational and participative. 


The social circle mindset is all about whether your brand is a part of cultural conversation. Cultural conversations generate word of mouth, and particularly important for this consumer group, word of mouse. These are brands that people talk about, even when they may not exist in the marketplace or geographical area yet.

Is your brand part of cultural conversations? Culturally relevant brands like Apple, Starbucks, and Snap are!

2. Self — emotional connection. 


The ‘self’ mindset drives price elasticity and frequency of usage — which results in greater share of wallet or share on stomach, etc. Brands with a strong emotional connection get a disproportionate amount of volume and typically, a small premium for their product or service. 


Does your brand create an emotional connection? Millennials and Gen Z consumers feel emotional connections to brands like Red Bull, Sephora, and Nike!

3. Innovative — reinventing. 


Consumers today prefer brands that are always trying to be more useful. If your brand is willing to completely innovate, you probably have an advantage. 


Is your brand constantly improving and reinventing itself? Brands like Google, PlayStation, and Intuit are leading the way!

4. Trusted — puts consumer needs first.

Trust is about being remarkably consistent. This is earned very slowly and you give back very quickly. For most brands, you have to take actions to win trust. It’s not about communication messaging — in fact, communication messaging around trust result in brands that fail — there are big penalties to pay if you fall short.

Is your brand remarkably consistent? Consumers know what to expect from brands like FedEx, Chipotle, and Southwest!

5. Purpose — adding good.

Adding to society through cause-related marketing is a big driver for younger consumers. Brands must look for opportunities to close a purpose-gap. Taking on large issues and closing a purpose-gap creates value to consumers.

Does your brand add good to society? Brands like TOMS, Dove, and AT&T work hard for causes!

6. Accessible — simplifies my life. 


This is about being hyper-useful and hyper-convenient. For brands competing with a lower price model or within certain categories, like toilet paper, modern consumers are more open to move to private label offerings. For brands of higher price points, like cars and travel categories, specific brands will be more important to Millennials.

Is your brand hyper-useful and hyper-convenient? Younger generations love brands that provide simplicity like Amazon, Venmo, and Netflix!

Emotional connections are crucial — consumers definitely prefer brands and use emotional connections to explain differences and brand performance. Ordinary brands don’t have much price elasticity and don’t get the frequency needed to create extraordinary brands, so there’s a connection between emotional ‘love brands’ and performance.

As you think about your brand, understand you have to be willing to give up some equity in your old models, as innovation is a key part of consumer preference that is changing the landscape in a major way.

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Sustaining Print in the World of Internet Store Shelves

Posted By: SGK August 22, 2017

While 81% of consumers research online before buying, in order to win with content in the e-commerce marketplace, brand owners need to stock two shelves:

- The Physical Shelf
- The Digital Shelf 

Keeping these two shelves in sync and consistent builds consumer confidence and helps drive conversion rates. Consistency between digital channels and in-store is one of the most important aspects of a shopper journey.

WATCH: 4 Insights You Can Unlock by Mapping the Customer Journey

Product transparency is incredibly important, as shoppers are looking for more information regarding the products they buy. Many modern consumers are interested in where the product was packaged, its origin, if it was sourced locally, and in some cases, why a particular ingredient is in the product.

According to VoucherCloud, offering multiple product views and alternate images can increase online sales by 58%. To address this consumer need, we are seeing a shift in the way images are displayed for the online and mobile shopping experience. Many of the product shots or hero images include more information regarding the product’s category and size cues.

READ: The Future of Digital Content and Online Shopping

Through product attributes, consumers receive all the relevant information about a product — and in many different stages of their journey. To leverage your e-commerce infrastructure investment into the physical store and home — take a look at the below image:

Interested in learning more? Our Troy Johnson, Vice President, Client Engagement, will be co-presenting during the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI) printThink Summit, Wednesday, September 6, from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, IL.

In his presentation, discover how the explosion of online purchases has created a virtual store shelf; how will it impact the future of graphics and print, and what you can do to remain relevant.

About Troy Johnson: A 25-year veteran of the graphics industry, Troy has performed various pre-media management functions throughout his career, including proofing/film development, system operations, color correction, and trapping. He currently uses his knowledge and technical expertise to provide strategic insights and guidance as he leads key client accounts and programs.

About TLMI: TLMI is a member-driven association strongly committed to providing business solutions that enhance the prosperity of its members and the narrow web tag, label, and packaging industries.

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Don't Just Be Consistent. Be Relevant.

Your brand needs to be consistent across every channel – that goes without saying. What never gets said is this: Consistency alone doesn’t inspire action. True, the core of the brand experience needs to be instantly recognizable in every encounter. But each encounter should have unique relevance to each particular consumer, in each particular time and place. That’s how a brand becomes part of a lifestyle.

Think beyond omnichannel to omnirelevance. Read the new article from SGK for ideas and inspiration, with examples from brands that understand how to be surprising, delightful and helpful in every interaction.

For this and four more articles on improving brand performance from concept to consumer, read the complete Patterns report, Innovation Everywhere. Download Patterns, Issue 1, 2015.

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It’s Time To Understand The Online “Package” – 3 Tips For Success

Posted By: SGK July 29, 2014

As marketers we need to think of packaging in all the ways consumers experience a brand, whether that’s online or in the store. While most physical packages were designed to compete in a specific context, typically on shelves, smart brands know they can’t allow this consumer connection to suffer online.

Simply taking assets and tools developed for the traditional retail trade and repurposing them to fit online won’t work. These “mug shot images” only indicate what is sold in retail stores; they don’t leverage the advantages of the online shopping environment. 

This begs a crucial question: How can we use a brand’s equities more fluidly and efficiently across a broad array of selling environments? 

Here are three tactics for making the strategic work of brand architecture pay off online:

1.    Think More Analytically
The good news is that online, we’re given permission to do more selling and more communicating than in-store. At the start of the marketing concept process, think analytically about engagement and conversion and understand how each figures into every context. When the mediums support each other early on, you’ll be able to avoid a situation where the core physical package is beautiful but everything else is dilutive of the overall brand experience. 

2.    Apply Your Learning
Brands whose marketing tools are optimized for multiple environments will outperform those that simply regurgitate resources created for traditional retail shelves. This must be done concurrently, with this key understanding: all shelves deserve customized attention, but all must be mutually reinforcing. That's because we know consumers will be shopping across different shelf types (local grocery stores, club stores and online).

3.    Remove Barriers  
This approach will put pressure on online partners to allow for deeper brand experiences than simply copy-based product spec information. It will require brands to develop visual and copy assets that can be shared nimbly but powerfully across “shelves.” And it will require collaboration between suppliers and retailers along the lines of what happened in brick and mortar in the past. 

The result will be a new online retail “shelf” and a new definition of packaging itself. And the brands that do these best will be the ones we’re all talking about tomorrow. 

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Watch and Learn: Brazil, Sports and Experiential Marketing

Posted By: SGK May 30, 2014
Watch and Learn: Brazil, Sports and Experiential Marketing

Any brand – consumer or B2B – that’s intrigued with the possibilities of experiential marketing should pay close attention to what’s happening in Brazil this summer and in summer 2016: likely the best exhibitions of experiential marketing ever seen, plus countless experiments that will offer valuable lessons. 

We’re talking soccer’s World Cup this summer and the Summer Olympics two years from now.  Soccer (or football, fútbal, sokker, and many more names around the world) is Brazil’s sports lifeblood and a pillar of its culture. This is the first World Cup in Brazil in 64 years, so the country sees the event – 64 games in 32 days – as a chance to impress the world on its own terms – on the pitch, in the media, etc.

Putting aside ongoing concerns that Brazil might be overtaxed in mounting two world sports festivals, it’s clear that the country will be an experiential marketing hotbed for the next two years. The reasons illuminate both Brazil and South America from a marketing perspective.

Brazil is optimistic and passionate. This sounds like a stereotype, but it’s true of the national mindset – also in countries like Mexico and Colombia – especially in contrast to Argentina, which looks more to Europe in socio-cultural matters. “This is a real advantage for brands,” says Marina Sanchez, SGK’s Director of Business Development for Latin America, in São Paulo. “The emotional component is more important and more effective in branding in Brazil, and this suits experiential marketing quite well.” 

Brazilians tend to trust brands and each other. The recent economic boom has made Brazilians even more respectful of successful brands, national and regional. At the same time, owing in part to tradition, they respect word-of-mouth and are eager to take friends’ advice on brands or other Brazilians’, via social media. Brazil is one of the most Facebook-friendly countries on earth. 

And there’s another crucial piece: “Brazilians aren’t as concerned with security and privacy issues as people in the U.S. or Europe,” Sanchez says. “If they like or don’t like something, they’ll tell everyone, and this is unique to South America in general.” 

Experiential marketing is predicated on more than the brand offering an experience: the audience has to be willing to participate. This is why social/cultural events are prime opportunities: the elements of performance and shared experience are already there. Experiential marketing lends itself to shared experiences, and the Internet only amplifies this.

For more insight and examples of how global brands are using experiential marketing to reach consumers on the worldwide stage of the Olympics and World Cup, download Patterns Issue 1, 2014 – Participatory Marketing

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Targeted Online Ads: Awareness of Shoppers’ Concerns Can Improve Your Insights Into Their Preferences

Posted By: SGK September 13, 2012

Targeted online ads are causing a stir right now. Strictly speaking, they are a marketer’s friend – putting ads for pertinent products in front of consumers whose interests are already proven by actions they have taken, such as “liking” topics or products or politicians or a band.

But individuals and groups are taking exception to some targeted ads for various reasons, and the issue is likely to get hotter. Why? Because the targeting technology continues to improve, and popular social media sites and webmail providers are making more use of the data they collect as they perceive that web users are growing more comfortable with targeted ads and as advertisers grow more convinced of their effectiveness.

As an example of the tensions, there are both anecdotal and proven cases of users being offended or deeply inconvenienced by targeted ads that seem to imply something about them that isn’t true or that they wish to keep private. As we write this, one large webmail provider is dealing with accusations that it has made inferences – based on users’ names – about their ethnic backgrounds and has pushed ads that are refined accordingly.

More broadly, some webmail users are made uncomfortable that a service – even a free one – is “reading” the contents of their e-mails, even though the analysis is essentially keyword-based, much as search engines analyze search terms. And countless internet users still do a double take when they realize an ad is targeted, even for a product they’re interested in or have bought.

Researchers are even studying the effect of targeted political ads on the electorate. Do they tend to polarize us by reinforcing our inclinations? These theories are hard to prove. For instance, the common wisdom that negative political ads work has been thoroughly tested lately and still remains in doubt.

Anyway, when it comes to life online, we’re used to anonymity online, and being targeted takes some getting used to.

But what’s on the other side of the argument? Well, often a targeted ad beats the alternative. From a consumer perspective, we’re hit with branded messages all day long, thousands of them according to some studies. We accept them on TV or on the radio, unless we want to use a DVR or pay a premium for ad-free streaming music. And in some rare cases, we relish them, as when watching the Super Bowl. It’s likely that targeted ads are another feature of internet life that we’ll have learn to accept. But why?

The answer is obvious to marketers if not to all consumers: content and services cost their providers money to generate, and ads help offset the costs and, theoretically, generate profits. TV and radio users – and newspaper and magazine readers – understand this, but when they migrate online, they often seem to take on a different mindset. The internet has provided so much for free for so long – even things we would pay for in a different medium – that users now expect it. So ads can feel not only intrusive but presumptuous and inconsiderate.

This suggests a tactic that internet businesses should consider: a bit more openness about how they target and why. Ignorance on the part of users can turn into resistance quickly – and spread – whether it’s justified or not. Websites’ targeting practices become public knowledge anyway, so perhaps pro-active transparency is a good idea.

And finally there’s a long-term business benefit to getting web users to understand that their favorite sites are run by, well, businesses that have to monetize their services.

In other words, in the same way targeted ads show insight into users’ shopping preferences, online businesses also need to show insight into users’ concerns, to get the full benefit of their targeted ads.

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A Lesson for Marketers in the Demise of Flash

Posted By: SGK February 21, 2012

A recent Forbes guest column by a SAP executive on the demise of Flash as a programming platform made us think of the important decisions marketers make every day. The column points out that one pundit in 2007 branded the iPhone “a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks.”

At that time, observers were frustrated or skeptical of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ decision not to employ Flash as a development language for the iPhone, forcing developers to use Apple’s xCode. Flash was the dominant language then, and Jobs’ decision seemed dangerously stubborn.

But it was wise. As the column points out, xCode means its hard to design a bad-looking app (esthetics are core to Apple’s brand) and that Apple retains a business interest in every iPhone app that reaches the consumer. Today, Flash is on its way out.

Jobs and Apple saw into the future better than many others in the industry, but this foresight stemmed from something else: an understanding of what their brand stood for and what principles (such as control over platforms and assets) were the foundation of those brand values. If it had gone with Flash, Apple would have undervalued itself. With every decision a brand marketer makes today, these questions must be asked: Am I undervaluing my brand? Is it worth it in the long run?