Brand Building Digital Communities 16-24

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Brand Digital Communities Case Studies

Our research has led us to four US-based lifestyle brands that have established successful digital communities that target 16-24 year old consumers. Those brands are Glossier, a beauty brand; Lululemon, an apparel brand; Sephora, a beauty brand; and Under Armour, an apparel brand. Each of these brands share certain characteristics that foster strong digital communities and that attract young consumers.

Those common traits include the use of microinfluencers, peer to peer marketing and inspiration of brand loyalty and product necessity in its customers lives (or, the brand itself becomes an indespensible part of the customer's life, like a peer or a friend).

These are traits that are significant to consumers within the target demographic: 16-24 year olds. This group of consumers, with some exception, belong to Generation Z or Gen Z, who are within the ages of 3-23. As such, only a small portion of your target market are considered Millennials. In keeping with the parameters of your request, we have researched the shopping habits and cultural values of Gen Z in order to form assumptions and to make calculations that illustrate the success that the aforementioned brands with these young consumers.

Logic and Assumptions

In other to answer your request, we have triangulated the data regarding these companies' success with Gen Z and millennial consumers in the absense of precompiled data to present as case studies. We began by researching such lifestyle brands as the four we've included in this report but also of other brands such as Sonos, an electronics brand and the app Headspace. Of the brands we researched, the four that we included in this research yielded strong results that speak to the popularity and the high engagement of the digital communities of these brands among 16-24 year olds.

Also, we researched the demographic of interest to ascertain significant traits about their beliefs, their culture, and their shopping habits. The target demographic of this request spans two generations, millennials and Gen Z, with the latter making up the majority of this consumer bloc. While the majority of this target market is Gen Z, the majority of information that we found on shopping trends of young Americans were based on the habits of millennial consumers.

Still, with the information we've found, we were able to make assumptions about 16-24 year old shoppers and how best to serve this age group in. The four companies highlighted in this review have exemplified the values of Gen Z and, as a result, have proven highly successful with these consumers.

About Millennials and Gen Z

Our research has yielded insight into the values and desires of Gen Z, the population that make up the majority of your target demographic.

Gen Z are classified as people between the ages of 3-23 and, while they share some characteristics with millennial-aged people, there are worthwhile differences that inform their shopping habits.

Gen Z consumers like to shop for goods, for "stuff", while millennials prefer shopping for experiences. Both Gen Z and millennials engage in online shopping, while Gen Z also appreciates the in-store shopping experience.

Gen Z also seeks brands that deemed authentic and socially conscious. They tend to be open-minded and are fashion-forward, developing creative and innovative ways of using brands. Gen Z consumers also value clarity and honesty, which may be exemplified by the use of ad blockers by 69% of these consumers in an effort to maintain a shopping experience free of superfluous ads and interruptions.

Z consumers are also less likely to be swayed by celebrity endorsements but are more likely to tune into microinfluencers, a subset of the relatable, similarly aged influencers on social media and the internet, for their shopping and social cues. In light of the research we've found, we've determined that the companies that are most successful among these consumers are those that have found a way to tap into Gen Z consumer traits to create brands that resonate with them the most.

Brands

These brands have built successful digital communities among 16-24 year olds by catering to their values and preferences as consumers.

Glossier

This brand is successful among 18-35 year olds, an age group that overlaps with your target demographic. Glossier began as a beauty blog called Into the Gloss, created by blogger Emily Weiss. Before product was ever offered, the Glossier community was already a highly specific and highly engaged community of beauty enthusiasts.

Weiss started her blog as a place where young women could find information on beauty products and new brands. Glossier grew as a brand through strong social media engagement with its followers/fans by, for example, responding directly to users who tag them in social media posts, through question and answer interaction, and by hiring models and employees from their community.

In keeping with the values of Millennial and Gen Z consumers, Glossier eschews mass marketing and has become a peer to its consumers. As a result, 80% of Glossier's growth and sales come from peer to peer channels. 90% of revenue growth has been due to word -of-mouth by 18-35 year old brand ambassadors.

Lululemon

This is a lifestyle brand (athleisure/athletic apparel) that millennials gravitate to that is also finding popularity among Gen Z consumers. The attraction to this brand is its embodiment of a healthy lifestyle for the mind, the body, and the soul. It provides the experential satisfaction that young consumers crave by being a symbol of inclusion into the brand community.

The brand itself is a shared experience among those who wear Lululemon apparel in their everday lives, in errand-running, exercise and socializing. Also, the brand appeals to the social responsibility of millennial and Gen Z consumers by being a brand that is fashionable and high quality while making efforts to promote philanthropy through the 1,600 influencers it employs.

As a company, Lululemon Athletica (LULU) has become quite successful, posting revenue of $495.5M in 2017 fiscal year, a growth of about 17% over 2016.

Sephora

This lifestyle brand has a well-established foothold in the beauty community. It provides the in-store shopping experience that young shoppers enjoy, namely its highly recognizable sales-floor beauty consultants.

Through its staff of beauty advisors, all sporting personalized and unique make-up styling, Sephora offers the type of hands-on beauty consulting that makes shopping in-store a valuable and unforgettable experience. But while Sephora continues to offer a singular in-store experience, this brand also has a strong digital community that appeals to young consumers. The company engages with its customers through Beauty Talk, an online forum within which Sephora customers share ideas, beauty tips and tricks, as well as exchanging questions and answers among themselves.

There is also the Beauty Board where consumers upload pictures of themselves wearing brand products. Sephora customers link these photos to an online product page where their fellow customers can purchase the product if they wish.

The peer-to-peer marketing that appeals to millennials and Gen Z is in full effect here through digital word-of-mouth provided by product ratings and reviews. In addition to its online chat forums, Sephora has also created a loyalty member-only app, accessible to those who join Beauty Insider, Sephora's complimentary loyalty program.

Under Armour

This lifestyle brand has expanded beyond simply being a fitness apparel brand to offering products that are relevant to customers on both a community and a personal level through fitness. Through tapping into a strong digital community Under Armour has seen substantial growth in its brand. Through a phenomenon known as "distributed commerce" Under Armour has made itself ubiquitous and easily accessible for its customers, regardless of his/her location.

Under Armour can engage with its customers via its social media channels and through its Connected Fitness app. As a result, the brand has become the largest digital fitness community on the planet.

Our research shows us that 25% of North Americans use one of these apps to track physical activity and to monitor food and nutrition. As such, Under Armour boasts a 100%-200% growth in conversion from app users.

Conclusion

Four brands that have successfully built strong digital communities geared toward 16-24 consumers include Glossier, Lululemon, Sephora, and Under Armour. These brand share certain characteristics that are attractive to millennial and Gen Z consumers such as use of microinfluencers, peer to peer marketing, establishing of value within its brand, and inspiring brand loyalty that make its products indispensible in its customers lives.
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