In Brief: TikTok Helps Brands Sell to Gen Z; Corporate ESG Efforts Fade or Rebrand

February 2024
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“TikTok Made Me Buy It” is the new catchphrase for people making purchases after seeing viral videos on the social media app. As Fast Company reports, Instagram still drives more direct sales, but TikTok is helping brands sell to Gen Z consumers. 

In surveys from Morning Consult, Kraft ranked first among members of Gen Z, who’ve shown an interest in nostalgia. Kraft’s parent company, Kraft Heinz, is keeping century-old brands such as Heinz, Oscar Mayer and Jell-O relevant for young shoppers. 

Brands are also benefiting from Gen Z using TikTok as a search engine, says Vickie Segar, founder of Village Marketing, an influencer-marketing agency. This past holiday season was the first during which brands could take advantage of TikTok Shop, its new e-commerce feature. 

Amy Lanzi, CEO of the agency Digitas, says brands must devise authentic, organic social media strategies before paying for ads on TikTok. Says Lanzi, “You can’t spend your way into TikTok.” 

Amid Backlash, Corporate ESG Efforts Fade or Rebrand

After years of investor backlash, political pressure and legal threats, corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives are waning or being described differently, The Wall Street Journal reports. Many business leaders now avoid the abbreviation “ESG,” which has become derided as “woke capitalism.” 

Advisers are proposing new ways to name such efforts, with phrases like “responsible business.” Many CEOs continue to follow their companies’ sustainability commitments, even when no longer discussing them publicly. 

The ESG movement became more politicized after a spat in 2022 between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which led to more than a dozen other state officials criticizing ESG initiatives. 

As interest fades, some Wall Street firms are closing once-popular ESG funds. Investors pulled more than $14 billion from ESG funds in the first nine months of 2023, according to Morningstar. 

To Survive in 10 Years, Businesses Must Reinvent, CEOs Say

Forty-five percent of CEOs around the world worry that their companies won’t be viable in a decade without being reinvented, up from 39% last year, a survey by consulting firm PwC finds. The CEOs said their businesses face pressure from artificial intelligence technology, climate change, government regulation and unskilled workers.

As the Associated Press reports, just 38% of the executives surveyed were optimistic about the strength of the economy, up from 18% last year. The CEOs’ expectations of economic decline dropped to 45%, from a record-high 73% last year. In January, the World Bank said it expects the global economy to slow for a third consecutive year in 2024.

Nearly three-quarters of the executives surveyed said artificial intelligence “will significantly change the way their company creates, delivers and captures value in the next three years,” the PwC report says. Nearly a third of CEOs surveyed said climate change was expected to alter their operations over the next three years.

Companies Using Less Office Space, and Less Efficiently, Report Finds

Sixty-two percent of organizations have reduced their office portfolios since January 2020, with an additional 63% expecting to make further reductions by 2026, a new report from commercial real-estate services firm CBRE finds. The report also finds that just 29% of survey respondents plan to expand their office portfolios in the next three years.

According to CBRE, 43% of organizations said they plan to decrease their office portfolios by more than 30% in the next three years. The reductions in office space will continue a trend that began during the pandemic. 

In 2023, office-utilization rates, which measure how efficiently office spaces are being used, averaged 31%, compared to 64% before the pandemic. Hybrid work and underutilized office space have caused that disparity, CBRE says.

The imbalance of office space will not be resolved without “well-communicated changes” to hybrid policies, further reductions in portfolio size or improvements in workplace experiences that attract more employees to the office, the report says.

Job Ads With Wide Pay Ranges Give Bad Impression, Study Finds 

As more states require employers to list the pay on job ads, companies that cite a wide range of salaries could undermine their recruitment, a study by Washington State University finds.

In experiments, participants were less likely to consider employers trustworthy when their job ads listed wide pay ranges. Prior surveys have found that people trust organizations that include pay ranges in their job postings more than organizations that do not.

In Washington State University’s experiments, employers whose ads listed large pay ranges were seen less favorably than employers whose postings cited narrower ranges. Participants had even worse impressions of companies that listed wide salary ranges and said the pay would depend on the candidate’s qualifications. Listings that said the offer would depend on the candidate’s geographic location tended to evoke more favorable impressions of the employer.

Some participants viewed large pay ranges as positive, believing the top number indicated room for earnings growth without needing a promotion.

Return to Current Issue Writing & Storytelling | February 2024
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