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According to Business Insider, Gen Z, typically defined as those ages 10 to 22, has spending power of $143 billion (yes, that's billion with a "B"). This makes them enormously attractive to retailers ... and to credit card companies.

The recent college grad daughter of the Queen B (does that make her the "Princess B?") received two direct mail campaigns from Discover about a week apart. Both pieces are small and colorful. Each stood out in the pile of hum-drum household mail. We're not sure whether they are the start of a multi-touch campaign or if she received both versions of a very straightforward A/B test.

Here's what we mean ...

The first package has a blue patterned envelope that measures 4.25" x 6.5". There's a die-cut window, pictures of Discover cards, and a teaser that reads: "For college. For life." The back of the envelope includes four features: (1) No Annual Fee, (2) $20 Statement Credit for good grades, (3) 5% Cash Back on different places each quarter, (4) Unlimited Cashback Match. Each side of the envelope encourages the recipient to "See details inside."

The inserts aren't set up as your typical letter, brochure, lift note, and rate disclosure. Actually, the rate disclosure is in there, printed on a very light stock akin to newsprint (or tissue paper). There's also a folded BRE, lined for confidentiality. But, the star of the package is information-rich, yet slightly confusing, and personalized. The outside of the four-panel gate-folded insert includes the address information revealed through the window, along with a sidebar highlighting another offer: "0% INTRO APR on purchases for 6 MONTHS." It lists the post-offer APR, which is fairly high but may be typical for a young audience without much credit history. The flip side of this piece is an art panel that shows three Discover cards and reads simply, "It is different." If you open the first reveal from this cover, the interior content is upside down. (Hate it when that happens.)

Inside, a personalized panel explains that "Discover is out to change the way you think about credit cards." And, again, we get that series of features from the back of the envelope. Below this message is a chart (in teensy tiny type — I guess they're not too worried about their young target's eyesight) that compares Discover with three other popular student credit cards. When the piece is opened completely, there's a letter (sort of; no signature), another panel of offers and features, and the application.

Okay, that was the blue package. Now, let's talk about the red package.

Everything (every single little thing) is exactly the same except the color and pattern of the envelope, and a message that appears in the window. The red package added the copy: "500,000+ new student cardmembers referred by their friends."

So, what do we think? The package(s) certainly works hard — that four-panel insert, especially, does a lot of heavy lifting for such a compact element. The intimate size and bold envelope color(s) and graphics are eye-catching. If a direct mail campaign's job one is to sell the offer, Discover gets an A+.

That said, the upside-down reveal bothers us. The faux letter (in the center of a double gate) doesn't have the persuasive impact or time-tested value of a real letter — one on a separate sheet with a signator. And, while the package layout is clean and easy to read, it lacks personality. People like to see pictures of people. Especially Gen Z who research has shown values community and connections above all else.

All that said, the Bs would give these packages a thumbs-down except that, combined, they are such a good example of testing. Often, companies test too many elements of their campaigns at one time. These two pieces have only two differences: color and one line of copy. If the campaigns are meant to be a test (rather than a series), Discover should have a very clear idea of whether blue or red generates more response.

So, we will grudgingly give them a thumbs-up.

Now, let's see how these packages do against a campaign with pictures of Gen Zs. (TBH, that would be lit.)

 

Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Chameleon
Type A-Positive

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