CliqBit pivots to link companies to Gen Z

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: CliqBit co-founders Hannah Wei and Olivia Joslin have taken their funny social network in a new direction, connecting brands with research and meetings with their young base of users. PHOTO PROVIDED BY CLIQBIT.


BOSTON–For brands, understanding their youngest consumers is anything but funny.

So two years after the successful launch of CliqBit, a humor-based social media app, co-founders Hannah Wei and Olivia Joslin have shifted their focus to connecting companies with Generation Z.

The market potential for Generation Z is significant, according to a 2014 study by Goldman Sachs, which shows Generation representing 22 percent of the U.S. population. By 2020, they will account for 40 percent of the consumer base. These digital natives, the oldest of whom are now 18, are reportedly burdened with the shortest attention spans. But according to new research, their brains may have developed an adaptive filter that allows them to process online content and decide in seconds whether it has value to them.

How can brands connect in less than eight seconds? This is the kind of data CliqBit is now harnessing for clients.

“We wanted to see how we could take our knowledge of Generation Z and implement certain viral tools to help them,” says Wei, president of CliqBit.

At CliqBit, Wei and Joslin study Generation Z, their trends and purchase behavior, and share their insight with brands attempting to break into this burgeoning (but ad-resistant) market. Joslin, CliqBit’s CEO, speaks to an even greater challenge of locating Generation Z’s online presence.

“They’re really struggling to not only have Gen Z fill out their surveys, conduct their research and pay attention to it online, they’re struggling to find out where they are,” Joslin says. “It’s becoming harder for companies to grab at them for insight and just connect with them at another level.”

CliqBit has been developing this foundation of research on and connection with Gen Z since 2015, starting with the now-defunct social media app that targeted this demographic, they say. The women, rising seniors at Wellesley as well as participants in the MIT bridge program, successfully completed the 2016 Babson WIN Lab, the Boston-based accelerator for women entrepreneurs. In the process of working with the cohort, they saw the need to pivot into enterprise and decided to go for it.

“(WIN Lab) pushed us along in our transition, because when we entered, we were still a social app. And then by the time we came out, we were making revenue as a market research type of platform,” says Wei. “WIN Lab helped us because the women in it are powerhouses. We have so much respect for them. They were like, ‘OK, so now that you’re not raising this money any more, what’s next?’ ”

They saw value in the research they had conducted and decided to leverage it for this next iteration. The duo is currently working on expanding their offering while participating in the 2017 Babson Summer Venture Lab.

“A core part of our success with the CliqBit app was definitely the focus groups, the interviews that we conducted with Generation Z,” Joslin says.

“(With) quantitative data, you can figure out the what,” she says. “What is it that people don’t like or what is it that people do or don’t do? When do they drop off? But (brands) can’t figure out the why just through analyzing their metrics.

“And so, this is really where we come in, because now they know that something isn’t working, but they have to figure out why,” Joslin says.

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