Cosmo Publisher Nancy Berger on Building Brands Millennials and Gen Zers Love

As Publisher of Cosmopolitan—the biggest young women’s media brand in the world—as well as Seventeen and Women’s Health, Nancy Berger is one of the highest-profile executives in the magazine business. Her storied career has also included senior roles at Gourmet, Allureand Marie Claire, and she’s seen consumer magazines’ evolution into the digital age from the inside. Berger recently sat down with host Matt Rubel to talk about her career and what she’s learned about building brands that resonate with millennials and Gen Zers.

Berger says that both younger millennials and older Gen Zers are concerned about “adulting” because they’ve never had to do things like open a bank account or buy insurance before and want to make sure they’re making good life decisions. But the two generations differ on many fronts, and brands need to understand those differences in order to truly connect with each group:

  • Millennials prefer to communicate by text, while Gen Zers tend to like direct messaging.
  • Both groups are huge consumers of YouTube and other social media channels, but Gen Zers are especially big fans of TikTok, the short-form video platform.
  • Millennials are unique in that they’re the first generation to really grasp that they have choices, so they’re putting off getting married and having kids later than previous generations did.
  • Gen Zers are in a life stage when they’re experiencing a lot of “firsts,” from their first kiss to their first time living away from home, when they go to college. Berger says brands like Seventeen can serve as a trusted friend and source of information for the members of this generation as they navigate all these firsts.

Berger also thinks Gen Z holds great potential. “I think the Gen Zers are the generation that’s really going to save the world,” she says. “They’re going to save the planet. They really are committed and they look at the world so differently.”

To hear the rest of Berger’s insights on brand building—and about the time she took the whole staff of Allure to Scores and ended up on Page Six—listen to the full episode.