Curated Brand Collabs

Curated Brand Collabs

Today’s retail landscape is congested, but brands on the forefront of their industries are finding ways to connect more deeply with youth culture in order to stand apart. Authentic collaboration can be an ideal solution; relevant brand collaborations both excite and engage consumers, as well as enhance your brand’s position within your specific niche of the market. We’ve been forging creative partnerships as part of our work in youth culture for over a decade, with brand genres ranging from health and beauty, fashion, and action sports, to technology and entertainment…and everything in between.

co-branded-products

Co-Branded Product

Develop a new product or collection that uniquely serves each audience and enhances both brands.

media-campaigns

Media Campaigns

Create relevant branded content that shares the story of both brands and converges on shared values.

special-projects

Special Projects

Cooperate on a project or event that creates a cool experience or possibility, and that allows audiences to re-imagine the brands involved.

Brand Collabs Are A Lucrative Strategy

Leading brands report 1.4 times higher profit margins as a result of product and marketing collaborations. Below are several collabs that inspire our team, and exemplify the art and science of relevant brand partnering.

Source: Hypebeast and American Express 2017 Business Collaboration Index
All logos are registered trademarks of each brands listed above. All rights reserved.

Youth Culture Alignment Framework

A proven approach to product and marketing collaboration

The whole point of collaboration is that you give and take from each other and thats how you create things that are totally new.

Virgil Abloh
Off-White Designer

Source: GQ Magazine

What This Means For Your Brand

Marketing Dollars

Magnified Marketing Dollars

When brands collaborate, results are greater than the sum of the parts. Each brand’s investment is matched by another, which essentially doubles their dollar power and influence with audiences.

broader-audience

Broader Audience Reach

Not only does each brand benefit from access to other brand’s following, but both brands are exposed to another hybrid audience that is reached by the allure of the new collaborative offering , as well as the magnified attention that such a unique collab can attract.

creative-bounty

A Creative Bounty

Brands who collab benefit from a whole new set of creative assets and triggers from the other brand, as well as sharing creative talent. This inspires imagination and perspective, bringing new ideas to the familiar, and innovation to both sides.

make-something-new

Make Something New

With innovation comes revolution, and brands who collaborate have the unique opportunity to offer something new and one of a kind. Does your brand want to stay on the same path, or be a trailblazer?

Want to collaborate with like-minded brands and create something new?
Engage Youth Co. can help!

A True Story of Cultivating Gen Z Relevance: Nike SB

Nike is known for connecting with niche, athletic lifestyle groups within the youth market, and it’s why they resonate so well with Gen Z today. Yet, about 20 years ago, they found a group that posed some unique resistance.The story may not be what you would expect from such a titan of the sports and lifestyle market, but it’s part of why Nike is, well…Nike. The youth market is not particularly easy to get immersed in, especially if you are an adult with a job that has the ulterior motive of making money. Gen Z is a skeptical generation: they’ve been hyper-exposed to all the good, the bad, and the ugly that today’s society has to offer, delivered directly to their devices and platforms. If you want to win their hearts and wallet share, you will need to prove that your brand is aligned with their wants and needs, or risk being perceived as inauthentic. They are collectively a fast-moving target and reaching them is a challenging task. But cultural relevance with the youth market is not isolated to Gen Z, and this is what Nike struggled with 20 years ago, before they cracked the code and eventually became a dominant industry player in the global skateboarding subculture. Nike made a few attempts to enter the insular skateboarding world. Their first effort was in 1995-96, during and after the first X Games. They even sponsored the games, but skateboarders felt like Nike hadn’t earned their way into the culture,  they felt like they were trying to buy it. The Nike advertising campaigns at the time were very creative and arguably good for the public image of skateboarding, but the core audience still felt like Nike was an outsider, and trying too hard. Lesson One: Don’t assume to know the target audience based on traditional demographic targeting models or past successes alone. The core of any audience segment expects your brand to be an authentic contributor who walks the walk. On Nike’s second go at market entry, in 1998,  they took a deeper dive and launched their first dedicated skateboarding line. The shoes, while state of the art (which Nike is known for), lacked the features and style desired by most skaters. Even Nike-sponsored skaters had a hard time finding models that they could embrace. To the scene, Nike’s efforts to embrace skate culture felt more like infiltration than engagement;  the product line was canceled about one year later. Undeterred, Nike went back to the drawing board, determined to reach and resonate with this tenacious audience segment. Lesson Two: Above all, make sure you are producing a product or service that your audience actually needs and wants. When Nike finally broke through the ice and started to earn the respect of skateboarders, it was because of some very focused collaboration between Nike executives and a group of influential athletes revered by their culture. Nike humbly approached these skaters and asked, hey what do YOU want in a skate shoe and brand? After some serious consultation and co-creation, the Nike SB Dunk Lows were born in 2005. It was accompanied by a grassroots campaign that listened to and championed skate culture. and planted seeds that grew into a genuine acceptance of Nike by the community. The seeds planted during this time continued to grow, with each new generation of skaters growing up with Nike’s authentic presence. Today, the majority of Generation Z view Nike as a longtime champion of skateboarding, helping to support and grow the art and sport. Lesson Three: To truly engage with youth culture, you have to become involved in that culture, respect and listen to the members, and add value to what the audience is already doing. Nike’s journey to skateboarding and streetwear dominance illustrates how they masterfully engaged youth culture as a company, across many specializations. It teaches the observer three important rules of consumer engagement with Gen Z and youth culture at large. Forget your assumptions about consumer groups and start immersing yourself in the cultural lifestyles of your target audience. Identify your audience needs, and what authenticity means to them, before imposing your brand’s products and services on them. Consumer relationships are not seasonal: develop meaningful partnerships with youth segments, and commit to them.

How Retailers Can Better Engage and Sell to Gen Z Shoppers

Amidst the sea of struggling retailers, a few brands stand out as industry leaders when it comes to effectively engaging and selling to Gen Z shoppers. These retailers include Supreme NYC (streetwear), GameStop(video games and consumer electronics), and NTWRK (home shopping). They each have one key strategy in common that’s winning the hearts and wallets of today’s youth culture: they create a sense of belonging for shoppers. Each retailer brings Gen Z together in unique ways that are relevant to their targeted young audiences while staying true to its business model. For example, Supreme has done away with outmoded seasonal product releases, and “drops” (launches) new products or smaller, limited-quantity collections every Thursday. This approach drives demand that creates long lines outside of its store, where young people gather in hopes of getting the latest products before they’re sold out. However, the true genius behind this strategy is that the experience of waiting in line itself builds a strong community of passionate fans, who look forward to connecting with other like-minded peers. The brand’s appeal goes far beyond its physical store, however. The exclusivity of the products has fostered a new economy of Gen Z resellers, who sell or trade Supreme items online after they’re no longer available. It works because the strategy is as much about creating a deeper connection and elevating the status of shoppers as it is about the retailer making money. At GameStop, it’s an entirely different strategy to engage and sell to Gen Z shoppers. This national video game retailer builds a strong sense of community by employing incredibly knowledgeable staff known as “associates,” who are authentic experts in the field (many are rising eSports players themselves). The associates create a powerful comfort level among parent buyers, who are often disconnected from the latest gaming trends, products and technologies. It’s also worthy to mention that GameStop has remained nimble enough to pivot into collectibles and other must-have products, which are popular among Gen Z and many multigenerational fandoms. The latest retailer to step in and get it right when it comes to engaging Gen Z shoppers is a drops-driven QVC-like shopping network for the YouTube generation. The company is called NTWRK, and features daily content segments focused on e-commerce sales hosted by creators, musicians and other pop culture figures. NTWRK’s strategy is to create the next wave of video commerce: a mobile-first, home shopping experience that brings curated styles from big personalities directly to consumers. Young shoppers typically want the most exclusive products, content and experiences, yet gaining access can often be a serious challenge. NTWRK is dedicated to making exclusivity more accessible. The first content released was a shopping show hosted by youth culture icons DJ Khaled and Sean Andre. NTWRK is now partnering with top brands in fashion, tech, sneakers, toys and collectibles. Related story: A Marketing Guide for Generation Z 5 Engagement Considerations for Retailers Targeting Gen Z The world is a fast-growing global generation. Look to emerging geographic markets such as Nigeria, Southeast Asia, and Mexico for opportunities to reach some of the largest audiences of Gen Z shoppers. Practice good storytelling. In a world where the greatest prize is attention, content must capture young shoppers’ attention and inspire them to participate and take action. Don’t take Gen Z for granted; they expect authenticity and will quickly see through any lack of relevance. Create retail experiences that elevate a young shopper’s status. Create content and real-world experiences that positively showcase the coolest, most meaningful and original things you’re doing as a brand. This provides young shoppers a currency that can be leveraged to elevate their status. Be where they are; build a presence on emerging social platforms. YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are among the top social channels for engaging Gen Z. However, the algorithms work against everyone — including retailers trying to reach young shoppers. Consider opportunities to be a “big fish in a small pond” by establishing a presence on fast-growing social platforms like Twitch, Discord, TikTok, and YouNow. You’ll reach millions, and with less algorithm resistance. Future-proof your retail business and embrace the conversational economy. Start developing strategies that use chatbots to create two-way conversations with young shoppers. Focus your efforts on channels those customers are already comfortable using. Gregg L. Witt is a renowned youth marketing strategist and generational expert, author and public speaker. He has spent 17 years in consumer insights, media and youth marketing, and is currently chief strategy officer of Engage Youth Co. He co-authors the insightful new book, “The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune In and Build Credibility,” now available from Amazon and other retailers. Visit www.thinkwithwitt.com.   Article originally published in https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/how-retailers-can-better-engage-and-sell-to-gen-z-shoppers

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