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The CQ: AI News You Can Use, Plus Gen Z Luxury Spending
We Tested Five AI Marketing Platforms with our Portfolio Company Sunday
The CQ is Forerunner’s weekly newsletter rounding up the most pressing consumer news and analysis, plus some bonus musing from our investment team. Subscribe now to get the latest edition in your inbox every Saturday.
I got my start as an early marketer at Bonobos, and for the past 5 years, have specialized in marketing expertise when partnering with companies and in my writing (see: Your CAC Doesn’t Matter).
The market continues to buzz about generative AI and its impact on marketing, one of its most promising early use cases — but cutting through the noise to get started and choose a vendor is already cumbersome. So we did the legwork for operators by testing out five platforms with a mix of high awareness and a variety of product starting points (copy, images, ads, etc.), all with self-service functionality. We took them for a spin with Sunday, a portfolio company using AI for copywriting while spending significant marketing dollars during the spring selling season.
Read more for our full analysis, including details on which tools are best for what, examples and results from the Sunday case study, pricing considerations and more. Because while enthusiasm for what generative AI could hold for the future remains steadfast — we need more practical guidance on how operators can leverage the technology now to measurably improve their work.
What We’re Talking About on Slack:
The Wall Street Journal publishes an ode to the glory days of the 1980s mall as a unique force in retail, but more so culture and community — and one that’s never been recaptured: “The shopping mall was one of America’s last shared spaces, a common where kids from different towns and backgrounds could mingle and size each other up. Its downfall means one less place for people to escape their screens.”
The New York Times publishes mental health-related E.R. visits by young people ages 6 to 24 jumped from 4.8 million to 7.5 million from 2011 to 2020. Primary reasons are mood and behavioral disorders, substance use, and psychosis, but suicide-related visits dramatically rose from 0.9% to 4.2%. Researchers and doctors are calling for an “urgent” need for expanded crisis services, as emergency rooms are not equipped to manage mental health-related issues.
The U.S. Surgeon General compared the health risks of loneliness to smoking cigarettes to bring more awareness to what he calls the latest public health epidemic. He admits in his New York Times op-ed that has had his own personal struggles.
Meanwhile, Business Insider asks if the current state of the housing market might be making Gen Z and Millennials lonelier. And The Washington Post reports on how some Americans have inadvertently found an inventive solution to the issue: Families are taking in roommates to help pay for their single-family homes — and they are discovering that there are benefits to the arrangement beyond financial. “The trajectory tends to be, get married, have your kids, go isolate yourself more and more, because somehow that is the path to happiness...We have found so much happiness in broadening our sense of family and community and home.”
The Atlantic makes the case for America’s intimacy problem. “Recent research and anecdotal evidence suggest that Americans are growing more wary not only of ‘hypothetical, nameless Americans,’ but of their own colleagues, neighbors, friends, partners, and parents…When society feels scary, that fear can seep into your closest relationships.”
Gen Z’s luxury spending is increasing three times faster than other generations, according to a new survey from Vogue Business and Rakuten. About 60% of Gen Z’ers have splurged on luxury items in the last year, compared to only 18% of Boomers. Semi-related: Gen Z is racking up credit card debt faster than any previous generation — and more than half of Americans ages 18 to 29 are living at home.
Online scammers are now targeting young people. In 2021 alone, almost 40% of the fraud loss reported by adults aged 18 to 29 originated on a social-media site, says the FTC. The victims aren’t losing a ton of cash—generally about $500—but money’s not the only thing at risk. The scams are commonly part of an organized crime racket trying to steal customer data and online marketplaces, like Facebook Marketplace, are their prime hunting ground.
“Would my life be better if I worked less?” Part-time work is having a moment. As of February 2023, 21.9 million Americans were voluntarily working part time, up from 20.7 million in 2022. Research shows that people performing one to eight hours of paid work a week receive the same boost of self-esteem and sense of purpose as those who work 44 to 48 hours a week—just with less anxiety and depression. They have more freedom from the stress of finding childcare and greater balance, with more time for exercise, hobbies, travel, and loved ones. The part-time model is also helping businesses save money on health benefits and overly competitive salaries—and candidates are still eager to apply based on the perk of flexibility alone.
“The 401(k) generation enters a retirement minefield.” Those who are retiring now are the first generation to have to rely on their savings, 401k plans, and IRAs instead of pensions to manage the uncertainty of retirement. Without a regular paycheck, retirees are finding it hard to figure out how much to safely spend each month, particularly because they don’t know how much longer they’ll have. One survey found 45% of current retirees said they felt somewhat or very stressed about their retirement finances.
Work at a Portfolio Company:
Biz Ops & Analytics Manager | Catch: Catch is on a mission to unlock more rewarding relationships between merchants and their customers, starting with changing the way people pay for things online. This role will be critical in improving the understanding of the business, customers and partners, and will work cross-functionally using data to inform and create the business strategy and roadmap.
Product Manager - Acquisition | Prose: Prose creates custom hair care that’s inclusive to all hair types, needs and preferences. This role will be critical in redefining personalization in the beauty industry through innovative technology and design, helping drive customer acquisition initiatives, upper and mid-funnel strategies to improve the consultation experience, and key pages like the homepage, product pages, and brand pages.
Content Manager | Arrived: Arrived is an investment platform that acquires and manages high-quality residential rental homes and vacation rentals that you can buy ownership interests for as little as $100 per share. This role will have a passion for writing, editing, and managing a team of writers to play a crucial role in differentiating the brand and educating both newer and experienced investors about this sector of personal finance.
There are ~524 other openings on our jobs site. Check ‘em out.