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Interview with Our Marketing Scholarship Winner: What Gen Z has to say about the future of marketing

Ayokay sat down with the winner of our annual marketing scholarship, Telia Boice, to talk about her time in college and what she sees for herself on the horizon. Check out what Telia has to say about the future of marketing and what she recommends that marketers start paying attention to.

What is your major and what year are you?

My major is business management, and I’m currently in my fourth year. I changed my major pretty late, so I added a year.

What made you interested in marketing?

It was my most interesting class. I really saw the significance of it and saw how it could help me. And I just thought it was really fun! I really liked the psychology aspect of it, too.

You mentioned that you switched your major. What was your major before?

I started in anthropology, then switched to journalism. When I started I just couldn’t make up my mind, I guess.

Do you have any career plans for after graduation?

I’m really interested in entrepreneurship. I’m not sure what I want to go into specifically, industry-wise. But I’ve thought a lot about nonprofits. I currently work with people who have developmental disabilities. I see a lot of need in the community for better day hab facilities to give them something to do during the day. My clients just aren’t serving them right. So I think going into something like that would be something I’m really interested in. 

How do you plan on applying marketing techniques to your future industry?

The thing I liked about marketing was that whether you’re in marketing specifically or not, it’s still something that you’ll need. As an entrepreneur, I can’t just open up my company and sit there and wait for people to wonder what the building is and what we’re about. Marketing is the aspect of putting yourself out there and promoting yourself and letting people know what you’re about and what you can do for them to fulfill their needs so they end up coming to you. So even if you’re not in a marketing firm doing marketing-specific things, it’s still something you’ll have to know and apply.

One thing that you brought up in your essay is the idea of “selling status.” What do you think changes when a brand is trying to sell status as opposed to a tangible product?

I think it just changes the perspective of the person buying it. Let’s say I’m buying something because I have a need for it, like toothpaste. Who really cares what kind of toothpaste I have, it’s not going to influence how my friends see me or how the world sees me. But when you market towards a status, then it will apply to people’s psychology and their desire to be known and to be liked. I think that really changes the dynamic of what your product is. Because it goes from buying toothpaste to buying toothpaste that’s going to make people like you. Your teeth will be whiter, you’ll get more job interviews, have more friends, etc. So as a marketer, you’re appealing to someone’s life as opposed to just one aspect of their day-to-day.

Do you think “selling status” will continue to be a marketing trend in the future? Why or why not?

Definitely. I see it all the time. I have friends who are in debt because they’re buying things they can’t afford. And when I try to be a good friend and ask them why they’re buying this stuff, they’ll skirt around the idea that they just wanted people to like them. We especially see that now with social media being so popular. We have influencers and celebrities who are endorsing products. As these people have more influence, we’re going to see this more and more. I think marketing is going to start focusing on the reference groups and influencers more than even commercials.

What do you think is missing in marketing?

I think we’re losing quality as we’re aiming for status. A good example is the fashion industry, like fast fashion. Everything is cheap, it falls apart, it’s not durable, and you end up buying more over time. We’re clouding the quality of products because we’re more focused on selling more and selling fast instead of really assessing if something is good for you and a good product.

Do you have any final comments?

Anyone who’s in marketing or applying marketing concepts, I think they should be more aware of these issues. I think these problems are just going to grow and become more of an issue over time. I see this status issue becoming more of an issue alongside a lowering in quality. If we’re going to have good products and improve the world, we’re going to have to go back to making good products instead of just making people believe products will improve their lives.