Every minute of this Visionaries podcast conversation featuring Melissa Hobley, the Global CMO at Tinder, and Soyoung Kang, the CMO at eos Products, was packed with great insights, genuine laughs, real advice, and overall goodness! From eos discovering how their consumers are using their products for their “hoo-has” to Tinder uncovering the insight that many users are looking for long-term “hook-ups”—nothing was off limits! These Visionaries share a fearless challenger mindset by shredding stigmas and embracing human truths revealed by their consumers. Their secret to creating viral moments? Leaning into the brass, brave, authentic insights, tapping into the fresh perspectives of young talent, and just going for it.
4 Ways to Live and Breathe the Challenger Mindset
1. Shred Stigmas and Old Playbooks
Melissa Hobley (Tinder): For the first time ever, we are discussing love and commitment at Tinder. I’ll admit, we’ve had the hookup perception for a while, but the meaning of ‘hookup’ varies among different people.
40% of people on Tinder are looking for something meaningful and committed. And in the U.S., it’s estimated that 30-50% of long-term relationships start in a dating app. If you’re part of an LGBTQ community, it’s 70-80%.
Every day we have to keep thinking about how we optimize the UX/UI of the app and adjust the algorithm. We are always thinking about having the right technical side and app design to support all daters—trans, straight, gay, young, old, queer, pansexual, bisexual, or whatever it may be. Our team is working on balancing and catering to different dating preferences.
“Every day we have to keep thinking about how we optimize the UX/UI of the app and adjust the algorithm. We are always thinking about having the right technical side and app design to support all daters—trans, straight, gay, young, old, queer, pansexual, bisexual, or whatever it may be.”— Melissa Hobley, the Global CMO at Tinderr
Soyoung Kang (eos Products): We’ve been on a journey of tearing up the playbook and creating new philosophies. We’re a brand that was born out of innovation and disruption; it just happened to have been one product (our signature lip balm) that went mega-viral.
When I joined five years ago, it was my job to find the next big thing, but if I zoom out from that, it’s really not about the next big thing. It’s really about where the next phase of growth is coming from and how we will shepherd this brand into the future while still respecting our history.
For me, it was a history of innovation, disruption, and leaning into things that wouldn’t have traditionally been delightful, like shaving ‘hoo-has’, putting on your daily lotion, or daily lip balm. Every day, I feel like we’re on a journey of understanding our consumers and audiences and then applying those insights in new ways.
2. Emphasize Human Insights and Truths
Soyoung Kang: I’ve only actually been a marketer for the past five-ish years. I benefit from not knowing all of the rules of what you ‘can and cannot do’ as a marketer. And one of the things that has worked in my favor is this willingness to embrace things that people would have said is not safe for a brand, for instance, our latest shave cream campaign, “Smooth Hooha Szn.”
Much of this comes from just human insight and truth. People use language that brands won’t touch. Many people talk about real things with each other, but brands don’t. They either sanitize it or speak around it.
As somebody who hasn’t always been in marketing, sometimes I question, why wouldn’t we do that? Why wouldn’t we use the same language that people use to talk to each other?
And that’s really helped our team embrace the idea of authenticity and cut through because these are very noisy, cluttered, and chaotic environments. The best way to cut through is to be a member of the community instead of a brand talking at the community.
” Many people talk about real things with each other, but brands don’t. They either sanitize it or speak around it. As somebody who hasn’t always been in marketing, sometimes I question, why wouldn’t we do that? Why wouldn’t we use the same language that people use to talk to each other? “— Soyoung Kang, the CMO at eos Products
Melissa Hobley: Every single executive I’ve worked with the last 10 years has asked, “when are we getting a viral moment? Can I have a viral moment?” The truth is, when you see things going viral out there, it’s because of courage, brassiness, unexpectedness, and shock factor. You have to bring them on the journey and understand what it takes to cut through. I can’t shake this full hookup perception that Tinder has without being bold—a great example being our latest One Night Stand campaign. The insight that drove that spot is that sometimes one-night stands turn into a couple buying two ‘nightstands’…get it?
3. Don’t Be Jaded: Tap into Fresh Talent
Melissa Hobley: I’m always asking our Gen Z talent: what are you listening to? Who do you like? Who’s out there talking about talking about interesting issues? Who’s got substance? Who’s changing the way we think about things? And I’m always thinking about how to make it hot to talk about issues like sustainability and reproductive rights on your profile. Because, by the way, that can increase your chances of going on a date.
Soyoung Kang: We are very much a Gen Z focused brand. It’s critically important for us to have that voice represented within our organization. Younger members of the team who are more junior don’t have the baggage that comes from all the times they’ve tried something and it didn’t work. They come in with a fresh perspective, energy, and enthusiasm, and they’re probably seeing something that I can’t see because I may have a jaded perspective marketers get over time. Recognizing the value in what they’re bringing to the table in terms of fresh perspective is critically important. And then as a leader, it’s about shaping and structuring that raw talent and creativity.
4. Take Creative Risks and Just Go for It
Melissa Hobley: What excites me the most about the future of marketing is speed and creativity. There’s always a moment out there. But it’s about how you are engaging in the moment, supporting it, and uplifting it.
Soyoung Kang: How far can we push on creators? When I think about creative marketing encompassing the entire ecosystem, how much can that apply to your marketing and where can it apply? It’s a really exciting time to take risks and experiment in that area, and just go for it!
Having a challenger mindset is not about your brand’s market position… it’s about taking risks and testing boundaries to unlock the next level of growth and lead your brand into the future. Tap into the human insights and truths revealed by your consumers and use their language. Don’t sanitize it; emphasize it.
Meet the Visionaries
Melissa Hobley, Global CMO, Tinder: Melissa Hobley is the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Tinder, where she’s responsible for global brand advertising, marketing, social media, and partnerships. She has a reputation for marrying powerful brand marketing with data-driven digital advertising in bold and breakthrough ways. Melissa most recently served as CMO for OkCupid, which became known for its message of inclusion and affirmation, winning numerous awards for its breakthrough social campaign under her direction. Prior to joining OkCupid, Melissa held senior roles at Walgreens, and Buyology, with clients ranging from Visa to Nintendo. She started her career as a publicist, working for some of the biggest names in entertainment, TV, and film.
Soyoung Kang, CMO, eos Products: Soyoung Kang is the Chief Marketing Officer at eos Products, the iconic Gen Z focused beauty brand, where she is responsible for driving the overall strategy, planning, and operations for marketing, product & ecommerce. Previously, Soyoung was SVP of Brand Development at Bath & Body Works and has also held senior roles at Victoria’s Secret and The Boston Consulting Group. Soyoung is on the board of directors at Bob’s Discount Furniture, holds a BS from MIT, an MBA from The Wharton School, and was a Fulbright scholar.
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every week and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
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