How to sell to young people

Jacob Chang, Class of 2021 (second from left), and the JÜV leadership team. (Photo courtesy Jacob Chang)

How to sell to young people

Jacob Chang of JÜV Consulting has some advice.

Jacob Chang, Class of 2021, is the director of trends and marketing for the consulting firm JÜV. The staff, all in their teens or 20s, advise corporations on what’s in and out and how to market to young people.

Interview has been adapted and edited. 

I’ve always enjoyed knowing a lot about what young people are up to. The biggest thing Generation Z says right now is “Let’s get this bread.”* People say that to signal that they’re working hard and doing their best to earn money, make a living, succeed. They started saying it ironically, but now it’s kind of blown up.

Around two years ago, I became part of JÜV Consulting, which was founded by two of my best friends from high school. JÜV is a marketing consultancy run by members of Generation Z. The idea behind it is that adults should not try to market to young people, because they don’t understand the trends. Companies should be talking to young people like us and hearing things straight from the source. We’ve grown from a really small staff to a team of about 100. We range in age from about 14 to 22, except for our HR director, who’s like 26 or 27. At our age, none of us really knows how HR works.

The biggest misconception about Generation Z is that we’re not important to market to. Actually, we are growing in age and in the ability to buy stuff. What we also tell our clients is that Generation Z is extremely performative, given that we’ve grown up with social media. Because of that, we have a really good idea for telling what’s authentic from what’s not. So if brands try to be something they’re not, we’ll see right through that.

Over the summer, I worked on JÜV full time. We all worked and lived in a Brooklyn loft, doing everything we could to get the company growing. We plan to do that again next summer.

It’s definitely made me better at managing my time. On a day like today you might see me going to a couple of classes while reaching out to potential clients, or going online and browsing new forums. I spend a lot of time on personal social media as well, which everyone wastes time on, but I don’t feel bad because it’s part of my job.

I’m a double major in economics and philosophy. I wouldn’t say philosophy has any direct application to my work, but it’s a valuable subject because it lets you open your mind to the big problems, and consultants are all about solving big problems.

We find our clients are pretty respectful. There are times we aren’t taken seriously, of course, when people say, “Hey, these are just kids. Are they really doing a good job?” And, of course, we are.

* As of interview time, October 2018, Chang predicted that by press time, “‘Let’s get this bread!’ will still be quite relevant.”