Out of Scope Issue 98: Gear Up for Generation Z
Plus: Federal Reserve hikes, Seth Rogen x Airbnb, and the Empire State Building: anti-NY?
February has arrived, and with it, a flurry of discourse on culture—from Gen Z’s culture codes (more on that later) to new rules of etiquette we should all supposedly be living by. Never one to be left out of the fun, though, the federal government too made a splash with new rates and regulations. So what does that tell us at Hirsch Leatherwood? For the shortest month of the year, February may just end up feeling like the longest – only time will tell.
💡ON OUR MINDS: It’s Gen Z’s world, we’re just living in it
Leaning on its cultural cache and distinct social instincts that are on brand for a newsroom made up of former internet stans, this week VICE dropped its 2023 Guide to Culture, a sweeping look at the trends, movements, and attitudes — or as they call them, “culture codes” — that drive Gen Z.
Amongst these ten culture codes? Unclaimed Heritage, Rise of the Anti-Hero, Sovereignty of Self, and Neo-Hedonism. What may sound to some like the names of splashy (if not a tad pretentious) liberal arts classes are actually lenses that provide an intimate, nuanced look into the way Gen Z thinks and are collectively engaging with today’s biggest brands.
Across 135 pages, VICE creates a comprehensive image of the undercurrents that sway Gen Z – with data, advice, provocations, and all. Offering insights like “as anti-capitalist sentiment rises, [Gen Z’s] devaluing opulence, exclusivity and extravagance” and “[Gen Z’s] identity across platforms can exist as hybrids between biology, psychology, and technology,” the Guide is appointment reading for marketers (and, we would argue, parents) who seek to learn more about the generation with rising influence.
The most important takeaways for marketers and communicators? Gen Z is looking for content that offers knowledge, growth, and respite; excess is out, utility is in (communicate your brand accordingly); and identity is more fluid than ever, if you’re not prepared to target audiences beyond traditional markers (age, gender, and sexuality), your microphone just got a lot smaller.
Above all, the Guide highlights a major challenge for brands, big and small, in the years to come: while Gen Z is looking for greater authenticity and accountability from brands, their rising mistrust of business means they’re unlikely to take it at face value – a true Catch-22. In the words of Gen Z starlet herself, Olivia Rodrigo, it’s brutal out here.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
This week, the world got a masterclass in experiential marketing from… Seth Rogen? Back in 2019, the Pineapple Express star launched his own marijuana company, Houseplant, which has since transformed into more of a “weed lifestyle” brand—as much about well-designed homewares as actual cannabis. This week they launched a newsworthy partnership with Airbnb, an experiential stay where guests can hang with Rogen at a nice LA pad. “I’m part of the experience,” Rogen told Fast Company. “I assume people will want to smoke weed with me.” Is it a gimmick? Sure. But Rogen is a savvier executive than it might seem at first. He understands that his celebrity is his brand’s greatest asset, and he leverages it in experiences like this one. If you’re going to dabble in experiential marketing, make sure stakeholders are fully immersed in the biggest and best part of your brand.
The Federal Trade Commission has accused prescription drug discount app GoodRx of sharing personal health data with Facebook and Google. This is the first FTC action under the Health Breach Notification Rule. Perhaps more importantly, there’s still broad public concern over the security of consumer health information. With the FTC seeking to ban the company from sharing such information for ads, the case could have wide implications on the standard use-profiling and ad-targeting practices used across the multibillion-dollar digital health industry. The message is clear: “regulators intend to curb the nearly unfettered trade in consumers’ health details.”
It’s not exactly a surprise that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates this week after investors correctly anticipated the quarter-point hike. But what’s more interesting is how they’re messaging the move and folks’ subsequent reaction. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell issued a statement that more rate increases are coming, but both The Wall Street Journal and investors don’t seem convinced. It goes to show: just because you issue a strong statement doesn’t mean people will believe you, especially if you run up against the prevailing wisdom and current mood.
Axios reports an uptick in humanities majors at America's universities (or at UC Berkeley, at least). This is important—and good!—because, as Jennifer Kingson puts it, "humanities' decades-long decline is blamed for the proliferation of falsehoods on social media, coarse political discourse, the rise in racism and the parlous state of democracy (not to mention our etiolated vocabularies)." To that we say, happy reading, kids!
In case you missed these stories this week.
Beware NYC: The Empire State Building will go green again if the Eagles win the Super Bowl.
TikTok creators are turning to YouTube as their platform of choice due to new policies that as of February 1, YouTube is sharing advertising revenue with its creators.
Unsure of the etiquette rules these days? You’re not alone – social norms have undoubtedly changed since the pandemic. This exhaustive list features 140 hot takes for socializing, dating, working, and even tipping.
Thanks for reading,
This week’s newsletter is brought to you by Dolly Parton’s infographic confirming her love for baked goods.