Ypulse assists companies with strategic, research-based services to provide a 360-degree view Millennial and Gen Z lifestyles in the US. As experts on the consumer trends of these generations, WYSE Travel Confederation spoke with MaryLeigh Bliss, Chief Content Officer at Ypulse, about Instagram, the experiencification of retail and how companies can get started with market research to magnify their brand to young consumers.

You can learn more from MaryLeigh and youth consumer trends during her session at WYSTC 2017 in Montreal, Canada.

When did ‘unique’ become the new cool? Do you see this shifting at some point in the future?
For a long time, the narrative around young consumers has been that they just want to fit in with their friends. But younger Millennials and Gen Z have created a real shift in values, and now their goal is to stand out and be unique—in a good way. Social media has certainly played a role in this change. Now, we see that both generations not only want to stand out as individuals themselves, they’re also seeking out uniqueness in experiences and brands. Cookie-cutter design and reliable sameness is not as alluring to them as it was to previous generations, and they’re looking for brands that celebrate locality and distinctiveness. We don’t see this changing anytime soon, especially as the customization/personalization trend continues to grow as well.

Instagram – is it driving the ‘experiencification’ of retail spaces? If not, what is? What are some notable examples?
Social media in general has certainly contributed to the increasing allure of experiences over products—91% of 13 to 33-year-olds say they would rather share a picture of an event on social media than new clothing or accessories. But in terms of retail spaces, online shopping is equally responsible. Millennials especially have made online shopping their norm, and convenience is the number one reason. This means that brick-and-mortar stores need to offer more than racks or shelves of products to get them in store. Looking at malls as just one example, the current trend is to fill empty storefronts with experiences, from restaurants to laser tag to escape rooms. Some retail brands are adding cafes into their actual stores to bring in foot traffic. Personalization in stores is another major trend: Sephora’s new concept store is all about finding customized skin and makeup solutions for each customer, via AI.

Recently you reported on 20 luxury brands that Millennials and Gen Z want to own – are any travel related?
The list of the 20 luxury brands Millennials & Gen Z most want to own is mostly filled with tech, auto, and fashion brands, with Apple, BMW, and Tesla at the top of the ranking. Because we were asking about ownership, brands that create high-end physical products were the most likely to be named. In addition, for many young consumers, travel is not an exclusive category. They are able to have their dream trips at a discount, and the majority say they seek out inexpensive options while traveling. From what we see, their priorities are escaping everyday life and experiencing different cultures.

How did Ypulse start out and what kinds of clients do you work with?
Ypulse has been researching young consumers for over a decade, with a combination of custom studies and editorial content. The company started with our proprietary panel of Gen Z and Millennials, which is comprised of over 60,000 13 to 35-year-olds in the US. These young consumers are incentivized to share their opinions and beliefs, quickly and authentically, and respond to our quantitative surveys and qualitative discussions.

Ypulse works with a broad range of clients, including Fortune 500 brands and agencies of all sizes. We conduct custom research to solve specific problems and answer questions about young consumers, and our subscription products provide current awareness, trend insights, and a constant feed of data to help our clients understand Millennial and Gen Z behavior.

How can companies get started on Millennial and Gen Z consumer research with a third-party? What works best for small companies who want to up their game with market research?
Ypulse subscriptions are built for brands that want to learn more about Millennials and Gen Z without investing in full custom research products. Our monthly and quarterly surveys provide a wealth of data and insights on young consumers to clients looking to support strategic business decisions with sound statistic-based research. We cover a range of topics to give a 360-degree view of the life of a young person, from their media consumption to their spending so that brands can learn about every behavior that’s impacting the way they live, and what they expect from you.

Are you a traveller with a dream destination? What are you interested to learn more about at WYSTC?  
Like so many Millennials, I am a passionate traveller, with a long bucket list! Ypulse’s research found that 81% of 18 to 34-year-olds have a bucket list of places they want to travel. I’d love to travel everywhere, but currently my top choices would be Poland and Ireland, the two countries my family is from. I’m excited to learn about any new travel trends in the industry at WYSTC, but also what the biggest questions are about Gen Z and Millennials right now!

Join MaryLeigh Bliss for Millennial and Gen Z Trendscape at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference on Thursday, 28 September 2017.