Want to engage Millennials and Generation Z? Look no further than the School of Life for inspiration

Marketers have always used labels to describe different audiences as this allows for easier segmentation of people.  Standardising generational labels, such as Baby Boomers, Generation Z, Millennials, on an international level has made it easier to discuss and address challenges specific to each group.

Millennials are described as individuals born between 1981 and 2000, with the Generation Z label referring to individuals born after the 2000 period. Both of these groups are made of enthusiastic, tech-savy individuals. Generation Z individuals are especially in tune with all things digital. They are targeted with advertisements, social media campaigns and influencer marketing attempts on a daily basis, as a result of which they’ve come up with creative ways of avoiding being sold to from using Adblocker to only buying products they perceive as authentic. This has made marketing to this group extremely challenging.

The School of Life have successfully made philosophy fun and quirky (just look at modern, minimalist design of the products). They’ve repacked philosophy, making it easy to digest and applicable in modern life and have succeeded in engaging the younger generations, converting them into regular buyers of products and consumers of their online content.

Started by philosopher and author Alain De Botton, the website is  a hub for information relating to  philosophy and psychology.  The brand is differentiated through its focus on how to apply philosophical and psychological theories to develop one’s emotional intelligence in order to establish and maintain more fruitful relationships.

A millennial myself, I’ve been aware of the School of life for several years and have found that they have grown their customer base by successfully engaging users online through the production of high-quality video content, narrated by Alain De Botton himself, mainly on Youtube. Word of mouth has been crucial to spreading their brand, made only possible by the high-quality content they produce. The videos are narrated by Alain De Botton himself. More recently they’ve started to tackle some serious social issues and questions (e.g Why Do people Have Affairs), moving away from the early videos in which they introduced basic theories from the likes of Scorates and Artistotle to the general public.

What is interesting about the School of Life is that they have upgraded from providing basic content about philosophy to creating a dedicated platform providing more in-depth information and running workshops for individuals and professional groups in major cities across the world in addition to their successful shop. They currently have more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube too. They’re showing that as Bill Gates once said that ‘Content is King’!

Having closely observed their activities and products, I’ve summarised below the key areas the School of Life have excelled in and any brand looking to attract Millennials or Generation Z should seek to replicate:

  • They have a distinct name and brand. This sounds simple but you’ll be surprised how many businesses, organisations and corporations have a name or brand that do not resonate with their target audiences or communicate their value proposition. Their logo is bright yellow, it is warm, welcoming and fun. These are not terms you would normally associate with philosophy. Ask yourself the following question:
    • What does your brand say about your product or organisation
    • Does it have character?
    • How does it position your product/brand (e.g premium or regular)?
    • Does this align with how you want to your customers to experience your brand?
  • They’ve excelled at content marketing. The content they provide, especially on Youtube, is only the first step in their sales funnel. The users are engaged, aware of the brand and are then encouraged to visit their website. Some users will go out of their way to Google Alain de Botton after watching their videos and will thus (again) land on their website. The content is a source of leads or visits to the website.
  • The content and now the services they provide exude quality and push the boundaries usually placed around online, freely available philosophy and psychology. The positioning of the brand is well supported by the content that is created. I’ve yet to come across a badly produced video by the School of Life or a poorly written article on the website.
  • They monetised after they had established a strong, recognised brand. When monitising content, they extended into areas which fell naturally inline with their existing offering.
  • All marketing literature and merchandise follows a similar branding and tone of voice. Quality is at the heart of the products. Alain De Button did a fantastic job in establishing this.

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