Georgios Chiotis‘ career path has been anything but linear. He studied psychology and worked as a counselling psychologist before channelling these skills for marketing across retail, publishing, fashion, and travel. Now he works as the Brand and Marketing Director at Scape, a company redefining student living across three continents.
He sees the past diversity of his job roles as a strength. He has curated the most valuable skills from across these industries, which don’t traditionally collide, to inform effective and inventive marketing strategies.
FD: A lot of your roles have been focused towards the younger generations – Millennials and Gen Z – in education, hostels, and student accommodation. What is it about targeting these audiences, or being a part of companies that target these audiences, that is so fulfilling?
GC: Gen Z and Millennials are often seen as nothing more than target groups to market to. They’re often painted with a broad brush, generalised and are victim to lot of bad press (millennials are accused of killing everything, from the napkin market to recently, divorce). I feel really strongly about championing them, empowering them, and being part of a brand that truly benefits and improves their lives.
We, as marketers, have the opportunity to affect the current zeitgeist and we should use this power responsibly. Instead of aiming to increase their FOMO, perpetuate unattainable beauty standards or induce a culture of exclusivity, we should aim to promote diversity, inclusivity and empowerment through our campaigns. Purposeful marketing is the way to go!
FD: What do you hope to take into your new role at Scape and what do you hope to achieve?
GC: What attracted me to Scape was the passion that everyone in the team exudes about enriching our residents’ lives. Every detail, from the design of the buildings, to the range of events that are crafted around them. We work tirelessly to craft a year that lasts a lifetime. Our residents are the driving force behind everything we do, so we need to engage them in an authentic and meaningful way.
My main goal is to bring the brand to life, by showcasing the power of our community and positioning Scape as the definitive leading lifestyle student brand. I will use my deep understanding and love for Gen Z to truly provide our residents with a year that lasts a lifetime.
FD: What is driving innovation within the student accommodation and rental market?
GC: I would say technology and a thorough grasp of the demographic; technological adoption is key to every industry that incorporates experiential methods and touches. For example, we recently brought a bespoke VR ride to one of the resident parties we did. This created an instagrammable moment that took the reach out of our hands and into the devices of the people that matter – our residents and audience.
The second part would be understanding, supporting and championing Gen Z; not simply selling to them, but enriching their lives through our marketing activities. Injecting purpose into your marketing is crucial, regardless of your industry.
FD: How do you see the way we market to the younger generations transforming in the coming years?
GC: Without sounding like a broken record, I would repeat authenticity. Gen Z is more technologically advanced, socially savvy and switched on than ever. They can cut through the noise and see the truth behind campaigns.
Also, we will see the death of traditional public relations and the evolution of public relationships. Talking to customers is one thing, but truly communicating with them is another. Brands will be pushed to embrace, genuine two-way communication; authenticity will be a key factor to drive this change.
FD: What motivates you?
GC: Usually doughnuts do the trick. *laughing ensues*
But more seriously, I have always had an internal locus of motivation which predominantly stems from not only embracing, but celebrating difference. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a Greek Londoner, I view these differences as strengths, not weaknesses. These aspects allow me to understand and empathise with all walks of life and build teams, campaigns, and environments that are focused on empowering and nurturing all types of talent.
Additionally, and potentially more importantly, is the desire to truly make a change. Injecting purpose and creating authentic experiences is the motivation behind everything I do. I truly care about my work and the people I’m impacting. I take immense pride from it – it’s very selfish, really.
FD: Any words of wisdom for your fellow marketers or those just starting out?
GC: Be patient. The current social climate dictates that you need to be super successful, super-fast, but allow yourself the space to learn and develop. Try to expand your knowledge and check out what other departments are doing – you might be surprised how much you enjoy other facets of the business. Roles are constantly evolving so the more skills you collect, the better.
Last but not least, in the early stages of your career imposter syndrome can be strong; mute that internal voice that tells you that you are not good enough, accept that you can develop in the areas that you are weaker in and celebrate the areas in which you excel.
Oh, and doughnuts. Doughnuts always help.