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Four Brands Embracing Data to Give Millennials What They Want

Four Brands Embracing Data to Give Millennials What They Want

When it comes to creating the perfect product for young consumers, savvy brands are increasingly embracing data. These brands are creating specific products and individualized experiences based on data acquired from customers’ online use, brick and mortar experience, surveys, and more. 

Here are four brands we can all learn from when it comes to using data to give Millennials the products they want:

BuzzFeed Tasty Gets Spicy with McCormick.

Spice company McCormick and Internet media company BuzzFeed have joined forces to offer a line of seasonings targeted at Millennials. While this may seem like an odd combination, BuzzFeed Tasty (the brand’s popular cooking vertical) used data on what recipes and flavors are most popular on its platform to determine the spices and flavors young cooks are interested in. The result? Five new McCormick spices (also sold as a kit) called Fiery, Zesty, Savory, Jazzy, and Hearty. Direct-to-consumer sales will be measured to determine which spices are most popular with young buyers.

McDonald’s Goes Personal with Menus.

McDonald’s recent acquisition of Dynamic Yield – a technology company that personalizes customer experiences – shows just how much the fast-food restaurant is investing into data-driven information. On the menu: featured items (like McFlurries) based on variants like each restaurant’s location and weather and personalized suggestions based on what previous customers have ordered (for example, a sweet sundae to go with your salty fries). 

Subway Adds Tastemade to the Mix.

Fast-food chain Subway is bulking up on data. The franchise (which is one of the fastest growing in the world) is teaming up with Tastemade – a video network that offers online food and travel related programming – to develop new menu items. For example, Subway’s new Green Goddess Tuna Melt was concocted by analyzing Tastemade’s posts to find ingredients Subway could try out in a tuna sandwich. The new sub tested in the top 20% of the past five years’ sub-creations. 

Stitch Fix Plays with Data Science.

Online personal styling service Stitch Fix has embraced data to provide more personalized fashion choices to their clients. Their Tinder-style in-app game called Style Shuffle is played by more than 75% of their shoppers. The game, which lets users swipe right and left on apparel suggestions for them, was built by the brand’s manager of data science. Using data from the game, styles are mapped together via an algorithm. It is just one way Stitch Fix uses data science to put together boxes (called Fixes) of clothing that are tailored to consumers’ tastes.

I have established a long history of helping companies – like those highlighted above – use data science to effectively connect with consumers and elevate their brands. Whether you’re large or small, we are here to support your brand. For more information or to discuss millennial marketing strategies please reach out to me at or call me at (585)230-9565.

How Millennials Have Changed Luxury – Updated May 2019

How Millennials Have Changed Luxury – Updated May 2019

It is no secret that Millennials have done much to shape the world as we know it today. One unexpected area that they have changed is the luxury market. This will come as a surprise to many as Millennials largely have avoided the traditional luxury brands. What they have done instead is redefined the word luxury. Historically, high-ticket items such as jewelry and couture have practically been the definition of luxury, but the Millennial generation has pushed that definition in a few different directions.

Three Ways Millennials Have Redefined Luxury

  1. Millennials have changed the way we look at luxury is in the areas where they spend their money. What we have seen recently is again a shift away from the more expensive items typically associated with luxury, and in their place, they are spending money on items with descriptors such as organic, fair-trade, sustainable, and ethically sourced. Items with these descriptions almost always cost more than their counterparts, but their value is higher to Millennials who care about where something comes from and how it was treated.
  2. Millennials are turning to resale apps and websites that give them access to traditional luxury items at a significantly lower price-point. Two such platforms are ThredUP and Poshmark. They allow users to take pictures and post items at a price of their choosing, and some items can even be sent in for authentication. Because the prices on these resale avenues are determined by the owner of the item and their motivation to sell, items nearly always sell for a fraction of the price that they would in a retail store that has overhead and employees to pay for.
  3. Millennials differ from their predecessors in how they look at luxury clothing. Millennials have moved away from couture such as Gucci, Prada, and Givenchy and moved toward brands like Supreme and Vetements that are known for their exquisite streetwear. This is the new phenomenon amongst Millennials: their idea of luxury attire would be categorized as streetwear. In fact, some of the classic luxury brands have even introduced lines of high-end streetwear.

As we have seen, Millennials have changed our world forever, and even a segment usually reserved for the rich and elite have felt their hand. Luxury is changing and Millennials are one of the driving forces behind that. Brands need to recognize these new drivers and shift their focus to match.

Being Future Present: Three Ways  to Create Your Brand’s Future

Being Future Present: Three Ways to Create Your Brand’s Future

In a world of constant change and uncertainty, brands are discovering that in order to stay relevant in the marketplace and engage forward-thinking consumers, they must continually plan and strategize for the future. It is not only unwise to remain stationary in today’s rapidly changing marketplace but it is fatal to a brand’s relevance with consumers in the market. Markets are changing overnight and today’s trends are becoming yesterday’s history.

In order to plan for this continually evolving future, brands are increasingly developing strategies for how to become “future present.” Being future-present involves implementing strategies and tactics today to plan for and leverage the future in order to ensure brand effectiveness and success moving forward. While making your brand future-present may seem like a daunting challenge, there are several steps that your brand can take to make certain that it is not only well-prepared for the future but also actively shaping that future.

Three Ways to Make Your Brand Future Proof

  1. Analyze the Situation.  In order to effectively leverage change for your brand’s success in the future, it is crucial to understand and openly discuss this change. It is not sufficient to just understand what change is taking place but why this change is occurring. Analyzing cultural norms, political shifts, and societal trends will enable brands to better comprehend why changes occur when they do. For example, in order to understand changing consumer desires, brands must evaluate what external factors are contributing to these changing trends, whether they be social, psychological, or emotional. Once brands understand the why behind marketplace changes, they can better prepare when they begin to see the signals of future change in the market.  For example, we have a jewelry customer that serves both the consumer, but also the professional market.  They noticed that the professional market was changing rapidly which was creating a huge opportunity.  From our perspective, this means that website content needs to evolve to meet the needs of both markets which in turns impact our search engine optimization recommendations. 
  2. Plan for Change.  Once brands have sufficiently understood why changes take place within the market, they can then begin to anticipate these changes. By staying in touch with consumer desires and cultural shifts, brands can better predict market trends. This process of anticipating changes may require that brands survey consumers about what they are looking for in brands and products. After these trends are correctly identified, brands can then begin to plan for which trends they are willing to capitalize on and what trends they do not see as a viable or lucrative investment.  I highly recommend considering using tools such as Google Trends to also analyze possible trends and opportunities.
  3. Act Today.  While it is advisable for brands to begin planning for the future now, the brands that will ultimately have the most influential presence in the marketplace are the brands that begin to change their decisions regarding the future now. Brands must take advantage of the present in order to shape the future.  I highly recommend having routine site traffic audits, competitive site analysis, and also watching for potential opportunities that you can leverage moving forward.

Next Steps. One such way to strategically determine present decisions is to calculate the risks your brand is willing to take in order to engage consumers. While rash decisions will spell disaster for your brand, the lack of risk-taking in a corporate strategy is also a lethal plan. In the current market, brands are increasingly willing to take major risks in the hopes of an even bigger reward. Risk-taking is perhaps one of the most challenging yet rewarding components of making a brand future-present. In order to shape decisions regarding the future today, brands have to be willing to take the risks necessary to experiment and innovate. Indeed, brands cannot succeed if they do not allow themselves the opportunity to fail or at least not hit a home-run every time.

Additionally, this willingness to take risks should be encouraged in every department within a business. It is not simply a business strategy. Innovation and experimentation should be second nature for brand marketers. If businesses successfully develop such ways to encourage innovation amongst their employees as well as plan for and leverage change today, they will ultimately be successful at creating a future present brand.

Achieving Success in Difficult Times

Achieving Success in Difficult Times

Achieving success in difficult times can be overwhelming.  The economy’s poor state, international competition, and constant technological advances make building a successful career more difficult than ever for those just beginning their professional life.   Like me, you may be wondering, “How can I build an innovative, successful business, when so many people are struggling simply to find a job?  How can I stand out amongst the mass of businesses and individuals seeking success and stability in a struggling economy?”  In this situation, it is always helpful to consider the steps that current leaders in business have taken in the past to achieve their success in the present.   What are some of the life lessons they have learned from creating and promoting their own businesses?  Most importantly, what qualities have enabled them to rise above their competitors and achieve incredible success in difficult times?

Stay Proactive

One key to success in today’s business world is to adopt a proactive attitude.  Technology is advancing and evolving at such a rapid rate that it requires constant and proactive effort to remain on the cutting edge.  Constantly looking for ways to improve yourself or your business will help you stand out from your peers.  It is essential to keep your product fresh, up-to-date, fully equipped to successfully compete in its market.  Constantly weeding out the deficiencies in your business and improving its virtues can do wonders to refine and streamline your business.  Never become complacent with the success that may come your way, but always be looking for the next way you can improve your business and make it more efficient.  Your business’s success can be a fragile thing, especially in today’s economy. Acknowledging this and making sure you are always one step ahead of the market and your competition is vital for your company to be successful.

Complacency Kills

Another quality that has helped business leaders and can help us as well as to never grow comfortable with where you or your business currently may be.  You never know what the future can bring to you or your business.  Natural disasters, health problems, or the economy are all variables that could affect your success, and in many cases, there is no way for you to control them.  This is what makes it so essential for you to always be ready for the next experience, for what the next phase may be for you or your business.  You always need to be prepared for the obstacles that might be thrown your way.

Don’t Quit

Perseverance is an invaluable commodity in today’s business world.  Looking at some of the most successful companies competing today, it may seem upon first glance that their success is nothing more than good luck or just the right set of circumstances.  Some businesses, it seems, achieve monumental success virtually overnight.  What many of us probably don’t realize is the number of years many of the prominent business leaders have invested in their companies to rise to the status they now hold.  Dedication to your business and its product, especially through hard economic times, is what sees you through difficulties and enables your business to come out of them on top.

Seize the Challenge

Turn every challenge into an opportunity.  Focus on your business and its product obsessively.  Take good advice, but also listen to your instincts.  Understand that not every wise business decision is a monetary decision. These are only a few of the principles that have enabled today’s business leaders to rise to incredible heights and achieve success many of us only dream about.  But these qualities are not exclusive to them.  They are things that every one of us can incorporate into our businesses and our daily lives.  With an economy in which it is harder than ever to build a successful career, the basic qualities of a proactive attitude, a persevering work ethic, and an innovative mind are what will enable you to stand out from your competition and turn your dreams into a successful, profitable business.

To get the entire article with examples from today’s business leaders make sure to email me at

What Millennials and Gen Zers Actually Want For the Holidays

What Millennials and Gen Zers Actually Want For the Holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching, and brands are preparing for the busiest shopping season of the year. As busy consumers complete last-minute holiday shopping for their loved ones, brands are increasingly looking for new and innovative ways to reach these holiday shoppers. However, in order to understand what consumers are looking for this holiday season, brands must understand the changing trends associated with holiday shopping within the marketplace as well as the consumer philosophies behind these trends.

Increased Spending

One such change in the market this holiday season is the actual amount of revenue that will be generated by holiday shopping. Research has shown that during this holiday season, overall spending will largely increase. While retail sales have been predicted to grow this holiday season, the biggest growth rate in spending is projected to be in the online industry. In fact, industry predictions show that online holiday shopping will surge by almost 17% from last year, according to eMarketer.

This migration toward online sales growth seems to be widely influenced by the Millennial and Gen Z generations who have grown up with technology and view it as more convenient and accessible than retail stores. Brands hoping to capitalize on this shift toward online holiday shopping should make certain that their mobile apps are visually appealing and user-friendly and that their marketing strategies target primarily digital audiences.  

Millennial and Gen Zers’ Holiday List

In order to understand just what Millennials and Gen Zers will be spending their money on this holiday shopping season, YPulse decided to conduct a survey of 1,000 Millennials and Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 35. Their resulting responses provide valuable insight into what these generations will be spending their money on this holiday season.


Based off of the YPulse survey of 1,000 people, both Millennials and Gen Zers reported that the top item on their wishlist this holiday season is money. Rather than desiring physical items from various brands, both of these generations desire cash. Perhaps in response to the growing economic uncertainty or a volatile social climate, both Millennials and Gen Zers would prefer to have money than the newest iPhone or the most popular clothing trend.

While the desire to be given money for the holidays was prominent among Millennials and Gen Zers, interestingly, the age bracket that responded the most with money as being the top item on their holiday wishlist was individuals between the ages of 18 and 20. With overall rising education costs and an increase in the cost of living, it is no surprise that adolescents of student age are the group most likely to ask for money for the holiday season. Brands seeking to reach

Millennial Marketing Strategies – Favorite Celebrities

Millennial Marketing Strategies – Favorite Celebrities

Since the rise of the Internet, fame has taken on a much different meaning from its historical connotation. Now, musicians, movie stars, YouTube personalities, comedians, bloggers/vloggers, athletes, and social media influencers could all be considered famous. To get a better understanding of who Gen Z and Millennials consider “famous” today, Ypulse conducted a survey that simply asked the question, “Who is your favorite celebrity?”

Their results found that the number one celebrity among men and women ages 13-35 is Rihanna, followed closely by Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Justin Bieber. The full list can be obtained from Ypulse here.

There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn both from the survey results themselves and from the way the survey was answered by each age group. First, musicians account for seven of the top ten favorite celebrities, with actors making up the other three. When asked, respondents said that musicians are the most admired and perceived to be the most talented celebrities. Gen Z and Millennials are also most likely to follow musicians on social media. It is also important to note the younger consumers said that they are more likely to pay attention to a paid social media post from a musician than any other type of celebrity.

Secondly, the survey shows that “fame” has been spreading horizontally, not vertically. Over 300 different names were given as responses to the survey question, and about 200 of those names were only mentioned by one or two respondents. This trend is even stronger among Gen Z respondents because an overwhelming majority of their celebrities were only mentioned by one or two survey-takers. To see what resonates with Gen Z in place of celebrity endorsements, Millward Brown Digital completed a parallel study. Gen Z consumers were asked about advertising methods to which they respond positively, and nearly 75% said that humor causes them to be more receptive to an advertisement.

As a takeaway, advertisers should note that Gen Z and Millennials are exceptionally adept at spotting advertisements and their perception of fame is not like that of previous generations. Therefore, it is crucial to make the best possible partnerships (ideally with musicians) and to use humor often but appropriately.

Millennial Marketing Strategies – Entertaining Millennials

Millennial Marketing Strategies – Entertaining Millennials

Millennial and Gen Z consumers have long been known to seek forms of entertainment that do not require them to spend money. They recognize that, oftentimes, you can have just as much fun participating in a free activity than if you spend money on one.  But while free activities remain popular, it goes without saying that younger consumers do spend money on some of their entertainment options. What do they find to be some of the most popular options, and what does this say about their overall entertainment desires?

To help answer these questions, Ypulse did a survey of 1000 men and women between the ages of 13 and 35. They asked the question, “Of all the things that you spend money on for entertainment inside of your home or outside your home, what do you enjoy the most?” The number one response among those surveyed was going out to eat at restaurants. Some of the other top responses were streaming services (such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon), going to the movies, travel, concerts, and video games. There was a difference in the top responses for Millennials and Gen Z: Millennials chose restaurants first, but Gen Z prefers going to the movies first and going out to a restaurant second. Most likely, this is due to the perceived formality that Gen Z associates with going out to a restaurant.

What is consistent among all the responses regardless of age or gender is a desire for communal activities. Millennials and Gen Z have moved away from solely screen-based entertainment and are becoming more social people. They have a strong desire for shared experience and want to experience new things with other people, especially their friend group.

While it is no secret that these generations do enjoy their alone time at home, it is also clear that there has been a shift away from screens when it comes to their primary entertainment preferences. Moving forward, brands should focus on messaging that emphasizes a sense of community among consumers and provide Gen Z and Millennials with the opportunity to experience new things with their friends.  

Writing Better Blog Posts

Writing Better Blog Posts

One of the on-going themes and challenges I hear from my clients is how do you write a blog post that drives traffic.  There is an underlying sense of frustration by many corporate bloggers that they are writing blog posts that are rarely read.   Add to this list the pressure from corporate management to show the effects of web marketing initiatives and many company blog writers are oftentimes left with feelings of falling short.

We’ve put together some simple tips and strategies that we have seen a number of successful corporate bloggers use that we think can be of value to you and your social media writing.

Measure everything.

As painful as it might feel at first try to keep an eye on how many views your blog posts are receiving and also the amount of time that users are spending on your post.  Ideally you want to gauge if they are actually reading your content or bouncing off the site.  Remember that to accurately measure this you need to make sure to push your readers to the full-post page.  We’ve seen a few clients who went the Tumblog format realize after the fact that the very nature of this format means that you are going to underreport your readership since all your content could be on the home page.

KIS words.

This is one of the areas where I tend to struggle the most.  Remember to Keep It Simple and avoid overly technical language.  This can be tougher in some industries than others, but keep an eye on your readability scores (drop me a note to learn more about this) and adjust your copy as necessary.  You really should try to strive to write at a fifth grade level.  This is nearly impossible for me, but try to make it your goal.  Keep it short and easy to understand.   This can also make it much more compelling when it comes to social media sharing where attention spans are even lower.

Use the word “you.”

Successful blog posts and social updates gives the reader the impression that they are writing directly to you.  It’s all about connection, so make sure to use the word “you” and try to build the bridge to your audience.  Social media and blog writing is much more personal, even if it’s coming from a corporate perspective, so try to focus on avoiding “we” and instead include more “you”.  If this becomes difficult imagine you are writing your blog post to an individual versus to a website.  Think of how you would write and try to keep it conversational.

Write how-to posts.

People want useful information that they can put to work.  I have found this to be a huge help on our Zephoria Facebook posts.  We continually receive positive feedback when we include information that can enrich the lives of our readers/fans/friends.  This means focusing on information and less upon being promotional.  No on wants to be sold, but everyone wants information, plus this informational approach can help you build your reputational authority.

Create substantive posts.

Unfortunately there is no short-cut to engaging content so don’t hesitate to focus on developing content that has details and substance versus superficial surface content.  This is tough because writing takes time and detailed posts can take a considerable amount of time to compose.  The positive side is that the more detailed posts will get higher readership as well as have a greater chance to be shared.  When possible also try to add graphics and photos, but don’t let the lack of these visual aides stop you from writing.

Develop engagement hooks to your readers.

When I hire a copywriter I look for someone who can not just write a create article, but also someone who can create an engaging headline.  The headline is what will drive a click, while great body copy is what will keep their attention.  I suggest that you look for headlines that focus upon the following:

  • Offers Something Unique: I love Lifehacker and think they do a perfect job at delivering on this promise
  • Useful Promise: A headline drives results when it is able to promise some specific benefit or usefulness to your readers.   Look for ways to deliver upon a specific promise that meets your readers needs.
  • Get Specific: Add numbers or statistics to a headline, but do this carefully.  This is a personal pet peeve of mine because if you overuse this technique it will make your blog appear to be “gimmicky”, but with that said look how often this is done on Mashable, TechCrunch and Lifehacker.

I feel the best headlines will use at least two of the above, but don’t stop with the headline.  The first few sentences are absolutely critical to keeping your readers engaged.  once again Google Analytics will allow you to see how well you are delivering on this promise.  If you see that time on site is dropping to under a minute you may need to look at the structure of your posts as well as how quickly you are providing them with your compelling content.  Remember – Google Analtyics is a corporate bloggers best friend.

To help readers continue to read your posts make sure you also use subheads in your copy.  This is also a great way to use those all valuable H-tags to also help to boost your SEO exposure.  So not only are your guiding the user, but you’re also communicating valuable information to the search engines.

Reputational authority.

I find that writers tend to fall into two camps.  Either they feel overly confident about what they have to say and they begin to talk at their readers or they are not as confident as they should be so they write tentatively.  Readers want to sense your passion.  You’re writing not because it’s the means to a pay check, but you’re writing because you feel passionate about the topic.  Passion is contagious so don’t feel you have to temper your zeal for your topic.  Passion is supported by your reptuational authority so include examples that you feel help to support your claim.  Make it personal and passionate and leverage it with your authority.  Ironically it is sometimes the person who has the least reptuational authority who can sometimes write with the greatest passion so help to correct this mistake by using your knowledge, education, experience to help support your writing and when appropriate use your internal company knowledge base to provide you with additional authority.

Care and compassion.

I love working with author and marketing professionals that genuinely love and care about their company, products, and services.  Know that your writing can make a difference not just to your company, but also to your users.  You can make a difference!  When you take time to personalize your audience and care about them as people it can transform your writing.  Noted author and motivation speaker, Zig Ziglar once said  “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”  Have care and compassion for your readers and watch your blog posts and social media efforts excel.

I’d love to learn from you and insights you have on creating great blog posts.  Drop me a line at

Shoppers Connect to Retailers on Facebook

Shoppers Connect to Retailers on Facebook

According to eMarketer a joint study by, comScore and Social Shopping Labs, revealed that more than half of Facebook users have reached a retailer’s website from its Facebook page.   Facebook has become the most popular social media outlet amongst online buyers.  Compete discovered that the number of online buyers using retailers’ Facebook pages increased 3 percentage points over the previous year, bumping blogs, forums and review sites to second place.  Additionally, a third of respondents “like” six or more retailers or consumer products companies on Facebook.

You can view more about the report at eMarketer

Learn more about Facebook Statistics on our Zephoria page.

Nearly 60 Percent Say LinkedIn is Most Important Social Network Account

Nearly 60 Percent Say LinkedIn is Most Important Social Network Account

According to a June 2011 social media study from Performics and ROI Research, nearly 60 percent of respondents said that LinkedIn is their most important social network account (complete report).  The study went on to say that half of those with active LInkedIn accounts visited the site at least once a weekly and twenty percent visited the site daily.  While the frequency of visits is down from the highs experienced during the recession the perceived value of their LinkedIn profile has dramatically increased in value.  The study goes to discuss the significant impact that social media has on brand perception and awareness.