Creating Brands That Resonate Into the Future

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Retailers big and small are trying to determine how to best reach younger generations. Unfathomable amounts of ink have been spilt trying to define all of the ways that millennials are different from their predecessors. Heather Watson, behavioral designer for the Center for Generational Kinetics, LLC, joins this episode of the podcast to explain the factors that she considers when evaluating why generations behave the way that they do.

We’re also joined by Kathy Thomas, Chief Strategy Officer for Half Price Books, who explains why their business continues to thrive while other traditional brick and mortar retailers have struggled.


Businesses must know their customer to be successful, but in this digital age, knowing how to find these customers might be more important. With Gen Z beginning to research products and order through social media and ordering products on cell phones and tablets, brands must react.

Heather Watson, behavioral designer for the Center for Generational Kinetics, LLC, has been researching how Gen Z will change the global economy, and what the next wave of workers expects from the job market, working environment and more.

“Their life digitally is as important as their physical life,” Watson said of Gen Z.

She explained how parenting, global trends and technology have transformed business and retail, and how the evolution of social media from a platform to a legitimate retail market will continue.

“One third of teenagers, or Gen Z, are on their phones after midnight every night. That is a powerful habit. They are on their phones 6-7 hours a day,” Watson said.

These habits are not going away soon, according to Watson, and marketing and advertising must learn to reach their customers in new ways.


In an era of e-commerce takeovers, Amazon’s retail reign and the death of legacy brands, Half Price Books isn’t going anywhere; not only is the chain bookstore surviving while other like Barnes & Noble are floundering, it’s actually thriving. Our guest today can’t pinpoint just one reason for the store’s success; instead, she can rattle off a handful.

Today we’re joined by Kathy Thomas, Chief Strategy Officer for Half Price Books, who sums up the power of a physical book store in one short phrase: “You can’t get inspired if you’re putting an ISBN number in.”

Thomas walks us through everything from guest experience, community involvement and smart stocking, and how they’re all helping Half-Price stand out among its competitors.

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