Lessons from Fast Company Innovation Festival

Render's Brittney Joyce recently attended Fast Company's annual Innovation Festival in New York City and spent a week trotting around the city to learn from some of the world's greatest brands.

Read on to learn what she learned from #FCFestival that you can apply to your campus visit!

It's all about me.

Ever wondered what your consumer behavior would look like if translated into a map? A stop at Pinterest's NYC headquarters showed us how choices for our boards, pins, and searches all connect toward predicting future behavior on their site and app. Searching for how to build your own backyard deck? Don’t be surprised if you see suggested posts in a few months about summer barbecues and patio furniture. Nursery decoration on your mind? You’ll be seeing some suggestions for Vegas vacations in about a year.

It’s a move toward a deeper dive on consumers rather than simply aligning them under one brand message or marketing campaign. It’s less about processing the masses, and more a move toward intentional targeting.

Creepy, I know. But here’s the point.

We’re all guilty of allowing prospective students to walk in the door, sending them on tour with a random tour guide, and hoping they get something out of it. Shouldn’t you know your visitors better to more accurately prepare for them? Can you take 10 minutes of every day as a staff to prepare for the next day’s visitors, learn a little bit about them, and intentionally match them with a tour guide with complementary interests?

Side note: Isn't this wall the coolest? It has physical "pins" you can take with you highlighting fun, interesting places in NYC.

There’s an app for that, right?

We are constantly being asked if a mobile application for prospective students is worth the investment. I spent some time with some prominent members of the Homeland Generation (also called Generation Z) at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in partnership with School of Doodle. When an attendee asked a panelist why she’s so addicted to her phone, she replied “Well, it’s the only thing in this world that I can control completely.”

Whoa. Mind. Blown.

She went on to describe that kind of control: Her phone only has apps she wants, organized in the way she wants. She can control who she follows on social media, what she sees, what she doesn’t. When we asked if brands should still be building apps, she shrugged. But she did say:

“You can build it. But it’s up to me if I want it. Don’t force me to take up room on my phone for something I may use up once or never. That feels like an invasion of privacy.”

Double mind blown.

TL;DR: You can build them, but don’t have grand expectations that they’ll use it unless it’s an active daily part of your visit, and you, your students, and campus community are using it too.

Anheuser Busch logos greet visitors outside.

Anheuser Busch logos greet visitors outside.

The new aspiration is wellness.

If you think back 10 years ago, aspiration meant luxury items. A Louis Vuitton handbag, a sports car, a big screen tv. Today’s consumers are now obsessed with equating aspiration and wellness. A $300 juicer. A complete collection of Lululemon's latest line. SoulCycle classes. It’s our way of showing off wealth but showcased into how we’re taking better care of ourselves. It’s why we heard Michelob Ultra is the fastest growing brand at Anheuser Busch, and one of America's oldest beer brands is focusing on... you guessed it, wellness.

Are you pondering if this is happening on college campuses and impact's recruitment and retention of students? A recent piece by the Wall Street Journal suggests we're all in the midst of this renaissance.

Interested in learning more about Fast Company Innovation Festival? Watch our Facebook Live recap from 2016 and holla at us on social media.