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Eos’s Soyoung Kang on how ‘giving bestie vibes, not brand vibes’ captivates Gen Z

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By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

March 18, 2024 | 7 min read

Ahead of Possible Miami 2024, The Drum is producing a special five-part series spotlighting key CMOs – and how their roles are evolving. In the first installment of the series, Eos’s CMO Soyoung Kang shares how to win over dubious Gen Z consumers.

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Soyoung Kang shares how Eos authentically engages with Gen Z consumers

As young consumers become increasingly discerning with the brands they support, Soyoung Kang, the chief marketing officer at skincare company Eos Products, stands out for her knack for crafting authentic and resonant connections with this demographic.

In fact, forging such connections makes up a crucial part of her role at Eos, where she leads strategy, planning and operations for marketing, product and e-commerce at the Gen Z-focused brand.

Kang brought a wealth of experience and perspective to Eos when she joined the team in 2018, having served as a marketing executive for renowned brands like Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret.

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Her accolades further underscore her impact in the marketing world, including being named an Adweek Brand Genius and Forbes Most Entrepreneurial CMO. Beyond her professional achievements, Kang is an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), serving on industry DEI councils and holding leadership roles within the Ascend Executive Network, a prominent AAPI professional organization.

Additionally, her commitment to service extends to her roles on the boards of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Advertising Club of NY and Creative Ladder, among others.

Kang’s marketing ‘holy grail’

Kang’s marketing philosophy is largely concerned with genuine engagement over transactional relationships with Gen Z – whom she calls an “extremely discerning” generation who “can sniff out inauthenticity from a mile away.”

In practice, this can look like listening to Eos’s community of 9 mn social media fans and incorporating their feedback into the brand’s messaging, be it through user-generated content campaigns, interactive social media experiences or personalized product offerings.

Kang explains further: “When we’ve taken direct inspiration from our fans’ own content and words, it has proven to be an unexpected source of powerful and raw creativity that truly cuts through the clutter.”

By inviting Eos’s consumer base to co-create the brand’s story, they develop a sense of community and belonging. “The holy grail is giving bestie vibes, not brand vibes,” Kang asserts, adding how impactful it is when brands speak to their consumers “like real people.”

According to Kang, this facilitates the “#1 mandate” for marketers, which is to connect with the next generation of consumers. Gen Z already wields an estimated half-trillion dollars in spending power.

To tap into this potential, Kang and her team at Eos have relinquished control of the brand’s marketing strategy in favor of embracing transparency and even imperfection at times. This shift, though initially daunting, has yielded remarkable results for Eos.

“Being more authentic as a brand means letting go of the narrative, to some degree. That can feel very uncomfortable – risky even – for many brands and marketers,” she says. ”As we’ve embraced storytelling that’s less polished, more real and unfiltered, we’ve seen our fan engagement increase.”

For this reason, the advice Kang has for other CMOs is clear: “Listen – really listen to what your community is saying. For us, that means social listening, since Gen Z distorts their time to social media.”

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Looking ahead, Kang remains steadfast in her belief that authenticity and personalization will continue to drive success in marketing, particularly when targeting Gen Z consumers.

She also believes that there’s a “tremendous opportunity” for CMOs to ideate purpose-driven strategies by leveraging their consumer-centric perspectives in the boardroom, stating: “The CMO role is often the voice of the consumer, tasked with bringing the ‘outside’ [point-of-view] into their organization.”

Be sure to catch Kang’s presentation at Possible, where she will go into further detail about this topic. She hints at what’s to come: “I’m excited to share some real-life examples of how Eos is listening and letting our community steer the narrative for our brand and how it’s actually driving incredible growth for our business. Fair warning, though, some of the content may be spicy.”

Soyoung Kang, CMO of Eos, will be speaking at Possible Miami in a session entitled CMO Trailblazers: Redefining Business Growth on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at 11:45am. To find out more and to book tickets to the event, click here.

​Have something to say? Join the conversation with The Drum at Possible. Branded video packages are available. Learn more here.

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