Forbes – Leadership: Tinder’s CMO Jenny Campbell: The Rise Of Gen Z, Authenticity + The New Definition Of IRL

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC


We have entered a new age where consumer trust is at an all-time low, and the need for brands to deliver authenticity is at an all-time high. The path forward lies in marketers understanding a few key significant shifts in the complexion of the landscape in order to effectively compete. These changes include everything from being cognizant of effectively communicating about brand function as much as promise, to the need to move away from the broad-brush use of influencers, to advocates and authorities with greater credibility. At the heart of many of these changes lies the palpable imprint that Gen Z stands to have on the brand landscape, consumerism and culture overall.

Tinder’s CMO Jenny Campbell:  The Rise Of Gen Z, Authenticity + The New Definition Of IRL

Billee Howard

With that in mind, I thought it would be great to connect with someone who has their pulse on this rapidly emerging power demographic. For my most recent column, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jenny Campbell, current CMO of Tinder, and marketing veteran whose wide range of experience spans iconic brands like Nike and revolutionary ad agency 72 + Sunny. Following is a recap of our conversation:

Billee Howard: You have an interesting background.  Can you tell me what made you most excited about joining Tinder as CMO?




Jenny Campbell: It’s  hard to imagine the dating world without Tinder in it. Before Tinder, online dating was pretty much exactly what it sounded like,  someone on their laptop filling out a long questionnaire. Online dating was done primarily by older people, in secret. People didn’t want anyone to know about it.  It was a really stigmatized experience.

Tinder launched in 2012, and it’s just amazing to me how it flipped the entire dating category on its head.  Tinder started as an app on college campuses as a way to meet people. There was never a desktop experience, nor was it intended to be, and that’s what accounts for the difference. After that, it suddenly became this social, young, single experience. It became way to meet people, not just in digital but also in real life (IRL). That’s the type of fundamental shift in culture that Tinder was responsible for. All of a sudden it was ok to be on dating apps, and since then we’ve seen this huge rise of this category because it’s now how people meet, and it’s become a normalized experience. I was fascinated about Tinder for that very reason, and because  it’s  amazing youth culture brand that I wanted to be a part of.  We also have a huge global impact,  being in more than 190 countries and translated into more than  forty languages. The scale of Tinder is massive, and as a marketer you get a courtside seat into what it is like to be young, social, single and dating in today’s world. Fifty percent of our users are eighteen to twenty five, which puts Tinder squarely in that Gen Z Space.

Howard: What is your vision for Tinder?


Campbell: My goal is to make Tinder the most iconic, innovative brand for Gen Z. To me, that means helping them lead their best social life and doing that unapologetically. What that means for our long-term vision is to use a lot less traditional advertising. I just don’t think it works for a brand like Tinder and I don’t think that eighteen to twenty five year olds are responding to it in the way that people think that they will. The experiences I see resonating are much more about creating experiences with IRL activations.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

In my opinion, brands need to enable great user experiences versus talking about themselves. Our  mission at Tinder is to make being single more fun by helping our members meet new people IRL. We’re really specific around the IRL part of this statement. We do a ton of work on the product side around helping match people so you can have conversations that allow you to get to know each other. We want to get people off the app and into the real world, experiencing things and meeting people.






Howard: Can you give me an example of IRL experiences tied to the Tinder platform?

Campbell: Sure. We are focusing more and more on things like Spring Break Mode and Festival Mode.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

For example, we looked at summer festival season and saw a huge spike in Tinder use around the festivals themselves as music fans come together. For us, it doesn’t make sense to sponsor a music festival as our brand awareness is incredibly high in markets like the US and the UK. I’d be surprised if there’s any twenty one year old out there who hasn’t heard of Tinder. So, simply sponsoring something we know is popular is probably not going to be enough for our users and our audience.

Instead, we created a product feature which is called Festival Mode. We actually tested it first around Spring Break. What it does is allows you to do is badge your Tinder profile to show which music festivals you are going to, and  then you can meet with other Tinder users who are also attending those festivals in advance.  This allows our users to  swipe, chat, meet and when they get to the festival, they get a better experience because they can meet up with people who they connected with in advance. That’s what I’m excited about. Helping the brand help our users have a better experience versus just telling them we can.

Howard:  I think that’s a great point and it kind of gets to a couple of questions I want to ask you. One of the things that I’ve been seeing is a lot of movement from digital to IRL, but the result of that seems to be a much heavier emphasis on word of mouth conversations as opposed to just social ones. I’m wondering what you’re seeing in that regard.

Campbell:. I do think one of the trends we’re seeing is this blurring of what IRL really means. For example, a nineteen year old spends five hours a day on social media and on their computers. To them, that is real life. Right now marketers still talk about online and offline like they’re two completely separate things, when they aren’t. What’s happening, in my view, is they bleed into each other. For example, folks are meeting people on Instagram and having incredibly valuable conversations and may not even ever meet IRL, but that doesn’t mean that the relationship they’re making is any less real to them.

What I have seen regarding word of mouth is the creation of smaller subgroups by Gen Z.  Millennials were all about broadcasting everything about themselves to everyone all the time. Gen Z is so much smarter about it. I think they’ve seen the truth about that and, as a result, have gone in the opposite direction with much smaller groups. This is where you get the rise of micro groups, and micro influencers because they still want to share just as much, in fact probably more so, but they do it in a much more curated way. The circles of influence are still there, they’re just smaller and potentially more powerful because they get very specific around a topic and there’s a lot of credibility in a certain space.

Howard:  I think those are all excellent points. That leads me to something else that I’m seeing which is a push away from influencers and what’s appearing to be a new age of advocacy within these micro groups that you’re talking about. It almost feels like it’s advocacy versus micro influencers. It seems like these advocates bring so much passion to these small groups and that’s what instigates others to follow them. What are your thoughts on that?

Campbell:  I completely agree on that. I don’t find micro influencers to be particularly effective when they just look like hired shills because no one believes it. Our users know when influencers are being paid. I just don’t think they’re particularly impactful anymore. What we are seeing however as incredibly impactful, is when someone has real credibility. There’s a truth to what they are saying because they have actually lived this, or done that. I think you framing it as advocacy is a really good thing because when an influencer is telling you to do something because they believe in it, there’s much more of a compelling call to action than just saying go and buy something.




Howard: I believe a lot of this has to do with something else I’m really interested in right now which is the state of fractured trust in our culture. I think that has happened for many reasons whether it’s the person in the White House, the overuse of influencers or all the data privacy issues of late. I think that brands are really struggling with how to achieve greater levels of trust. What’s your POV?




Campbell: I think trust is a tricky thing. Once you break it with the consumer, it’s hard to get it back. You see this now with Facebook, as you mentioned with data privacy. Anytime they announce anything, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, there’s this increased skepticism wondering what their motive is, and why they’re doing something. That increased consumer skepticism is good. We’re all living in the digital age. We need to be wise about that. And, again to that point we were talking about earlier, I think Gen Z saw a lot of the traps that Millennials fell into around this and are doing things differently.

What we’re doing in terms of building trust is leaning into those smaller groups situations. For example, features like Tinder U, which we launched last Fall. Tinder U is a college product and you have to have a verified college email address to be on it. Once you’re qualified, you can then match with other people who are on your college campus. That feeling of trust, because the user knows these people are verified, is huge. Within Tinder U, we are seeing a higher swipe right rate for women, so it’s clear there’s more engagement because trust has been elevated.




Howard: I think this lack of trust has to do with the fact that brands seems to have overdosed on brand purpose and inclusion in really inauthentic ways. A lot of research that my team at BRANDthro has done recently tells us that purpose for purpose sake is not appealing to anyone anymore, and checking the box type actions really just aren’t cutting it, not that they ever did, it just seems more palpable now. The level of authenticity you are bringing to Tinder seems directly responsive to those type of issues. What are your thoughts?

Campbell:  I agree with you. The whitewashing has just gone on way too long.I believe you need to build your values around what is true to your product.  If it’s not true to your product and your company, it’s going to just come off as false and not believable. It’s also hard for a person who works for the company to get behind those values if you’re not living and breathing it every day.

The way Tinder is designed as a platform  promotes so much diversity. . There aren’t a lot of filters on our app: you can set your desired age range, your gender preferences and distance preferences. Those are the only filters that we have, and because of that it makes the app incredibly diverse and inclusive.  The openness of the platform itself widens the possibility of our users seeing potential matches who are different from themselves. We’ve done a lot research around people’s perceptions of Tinder, and we found that seventy percent of them say that Tinder is the number one most racially diverse dating app. In fact, eighty percent of Tinder users stated that they’ve been on a date with someone of a different race versus just sixty percent of non-Tinder users.

After seeing that data, I know that there is a product truth happening, where our platform itself is really promoting diversity. It allows us to authentically support and champion causes around diversity and equality. For example, we are going to be asking our users to sign the U.S. Equality Act which would ensure laws can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I think that addresses your point on advocacy and helping people do something to create real change.




Howard: I think that’s right and I think that’s another market correction that we are seeing. Purpose that needs to be grounded in real issues that instigate some type of societal change. I think you’re ahead of the curve on that for sure. What do you think the most compelling insights are about Gen Z?

Microsoft APAC

Campbell: I would say Gen Z is incredibly social. We know they are dating in groups. They are looking for experiences. Gen Z is into social good too, and are actually getting out and making real change happen. They see that the tools that they have at their fingertips  allows them to have real impact versus just talk about it and I think they see the power that they have. I would also say their media behaviors are different. Gen Z has  five screens up at a time. The rise of a six second spot that we’ve been talking about for a while is happening now because when you’re looking at that many screens, you better get to the point quickly.

Gen Z wants to know what that brand can do for them in a much more functional aspect versus just the fluffy, because they can see through the fluffy really well. We see different behaviors on Tinder as well. They fill out their profiles more completely than previous generations. They know the power of developing their own brand and what it does for them, and work to be clear about that online. They connect their Spotify, their Instagram etc., because in their world, it’s not just all these separate entities, all these things tell us something about them as a whole. Bringing all those things into Tinder is the most powerful profile they can make because number one, it says I’m a real person, and number two, it says look at all the cool things that I’m doing that I can’t just say in a one hundred eighty-word count profile. There are so many different nuances with this generation. The list is endless and we are learning more nuances each and every day.

Howard: With that in mind, as we are celebrating Pride this month, let’s talk about the key learnings you saw related to Gen Z, and in general, in your new Tinder LGBTQ survey.

Campbell:  Eighty percent of the LGBTQ community that we surveyed said there’s less stigma today around the community than there was five years ago. That’s not necessarily shocking to me. Some of the data that was compelling was this whole notion of coming out. To my earlier comment about the authenticity of Gen Z, and their personal brand building, they want everybody to know who they are and they’re unapologetic about it.  Data proves this in our study with nearly one in three LGBTQ adults saying they did not formally come out. They feel like like they didn’t need this reveal moment – they just are who they are and people need to accept it. In fact, 82 percent of LGBTQ+ adults stated that there is less stigma today around their community than there was five years ago.

The study also showed us that the LGBTQ+ community has a real desire to make change. They have a lot of heart around advocacy and so we dug into that a little bit and it’s interesting that nearly half of the people that we surveyed said that it is really important for the people that they date to want to be involved in LGBTQ community issues. We also saw that Tinder users were far more comfortable with public displays of affection than their non online dating counterparts. For example, 57 percent of Tinder users stated that they were comfortable kissing in public versus 46 percent of non online daters. That was something that we sort of had a hypothesis around, but this definitely came through in the research. They’re more comfortable with who they are and they don’t want people to make assumptions about who they are. These are all key insights that brands need to be aware of when trying to engage the LGBTQ+ audience, regardless of what you’re selling, or what industry you’re in.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source: forbes.com

Source

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.