Brands: nurturing deeper connections is good business

Insights from our CultureQ study this Fall revealed technology brands are setting expectations for brand leaders across categories. From industries as diverse as confectionery, retail, home cleaning goods, to make-up we’re seeing evidence of this. And speaking as a fluent digital native, or in other words a Millennial, I see opportunities out there for brands to deepen their relationships with people, based upon how my generation thinks about and utilizes technology. So here my thoughts… We all have two identities. No, I’m not talking about some creepy AOL chatroom alias circa 1999; I’m referring to identity that members of my generation casually contrive on technological platforms. We no longer just maintain our “real-life” identities, comprised of personality, race, religion, and gender. We feel we must also maintain a current, faultless digitized image; the tweets we post daily, the Linkedin information we share weekly, and the Facebook defaults we update monthly.  While it’s not written in law, maintaining a presence on these platforms has become a kind of generational mandate, something necessary to remain socially acceptable. Statements like “I deactivated my Facebook months ago,” are usually followed by a gasp of disbelief and the immediate question of “why?” While older generations integrate technology in their lives, many are frustrated by it and some remain highly suspicious of it. They often view it as intrusive; as my Gen Xer cousin says of my unceasing email texts; “it’s enough!” Yet, how we use technology and the technological identities we carve out are much more meaningful than the superficial activities they appear to be.  As we discovered in our CultureQ study, people want...

Millennials: Humor them

It was Nick Shore’s MTV Insights Article “Q: What’s the Opposite of Nirvana?” that led me to question the role humor plays in the lives of Millennials and explore a bit more about how marketers are using comedy to capture our attention. “As someone charged with studying Millennial behaviors, motivations, insights and trends I have, of course, bandied about a lot of rhetoric about the generation using optimism, fun and unity as their way of pushing back on Gen X values. Of a generation bullishly refusing to go to the dark side, even in the face of, say, a trillion dollar pile of student debt,” Shore writes. We’re all pushing hard to stay afloat through challenging times. And, well, humor is the perfect antidote to our overwhelming everyday struggles. We bond equally over dim-witted Internet memes (they’re really inside jokes for our generation) and intellectual, witty humor on shows like The Colbert Report, The Office, and New Girl—just to name a few. In the run-up to the 2012 election, Comedy Central partnered with TRU Insights and Insight Research to analyze the role humor plays in Millennials’ political beliefs, behaviors and capturing their vote. According to the study, “62% like it when politicians use their sense of humor; 55% want politicians to show their sense of humor more often; and 54% agree the funnier a politician, the more likeable he/she is.” Obama apadted a looser, more easygoing demeanor than Romney throughout his campaign, and often relied on jesting to undercut his opponent. While I’m by no means attributing Obama’s success in the Presidential race to his comical advantage, it’s interesting...