Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Under the Influencer: Why Gen-Z is Inspired By Celebrities and Social Media Personalities

During a casual scroll through social media platforms, you will most likely encounter a variety of branded material, from sponsored posts to ads worked into influencers’ content. And while some people in the older generations may simply skip over this content for fear of being “schemed” into purchases, Gen-Z recognizes a genuine interest from their influencers in the product they are promoting. They know that they are part of a generation that has had it with insincere campaign attempts and that any peers in the limelight would not be associated with a company they did not fully support. This leads us to wonder why, of all the pop culture-consumed generations, Gen-Z are the most heavily influenced by influencers?

When you look at Gen-Z as an evolution of other generations, rather than a group of people that just happened, the signs are all there. The fan-driven culture of the mid-to-late 1900s, the same culture that gave rise to Beatlemania and the obsession over television shows, was the predecessor of influencer culture today. Brands would flock to the artists and personalities that had taken the hearts of the youngest generation at the time, selling merchandise and experiences with the names of icons and heart throbs all over it. As time has passed, the youngest generation doesn’t even need the convincing of the celebrity-branded product; they just want to know that their favorite is behind something and they are sold. 

According to a study done by Marketing Hub, influencer marketing is set to have a budget of $13.1 billion in 2021. 

Along with the growth of influencer appreciation from consumers comes an appreciation of the market from businesses. Companies have learned that their consumers want interaction and engagement, they want to know why their favorites are promoting certain products and why they should spend their money on it. Influencer marketing is now the main way to connect with the biggest consumer pool.

One thing brands need to keep in mind when tapping into this new market is the trends that Gen-Z goes through quickly. Platforms, especially TikTok, make it easy for different personalities and fads to move through the Gen-Z circuit faster than through any other generation. One day, a creator known for a certain dance can be at the top of the influencer chain and the next, they can be just as forgotten as the ones that came before them. Rather than just reading studies and trend reports about theories on Gen-Z activity, brands should be in the action, engaging with what Gen-Z is into at every moment so that they can best understand and later represent these consumers. 

While celebrity-centric marketing is nothing new, how Gen-Z interacts with brand partnerships proves that the market has changed. People who are part of the youngest generation want to know that their favorite public figure likes a certain product not just for novelty but also for utility. More brands are recognizing the importance of this marketing strategy, prioritizing interactions with their consumers and the people they admire through social media rather than keeping a safe, corporate distance.