Why influencer marketing is the way to go for addressing youth generations

InfluencerDB will be exhibiting at YMS 2017. Here Mona Hellenkemper shares why influencer marketing is proving such an effective way of reaching 16-24s.

To be honest, when I was a teenager, my idols were unapproachable stars like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and the Spice Girls. I admired their music, their dance-style and their outfits (and sometimes even danced in front of a mirror to their music. Who didn’t?). Since that time, a lot has changed in the digital world: While I got my first cellphone at the age of 14, kids today grow up using smartphones from early childhood on and social media is a self-evident part of their everyday lives. With that background, it is no surprise that members of Generation Z, born 1998 and later, are especially valuable recipients for influencer marketing.

Gen Z and the digital world

Members of youth generations such as Gen Z are digital natives who grew up with digital media and social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. A major part of them is online all day long and always approachable, not only for friends and family but also for brands who want to advertise their products. On the one hand, this presents huge opportunities for advertisers, since their target groups can be reached via numerous channels almost 24/7. But teens today turn their backs on traditional advertisement – the use of ad blockers will presumably increase to 32% in the United States this year. Thus, 86.6 million people in the US use ad blockers to eliminate ads. In addition to that, the trust behaviour of consumers has changed a lot and it becomes harder for brands to gain the attention of potential customers. Not so long ago, people used to trust experts most when making purchase decisions. In 2015, 83% of participants of Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising said that the most credible form of advertising comes from people they know and trust. Therefore, neither brands nor celebrities have a major influence on people’s purchase decisions. Furthermore, 40% of the participants belonging to Gen Z say that advertisement showing real-life situations appeals to them most of all.

Influencer marketing for catering to teens

The results of Nielsen’s survey show the increasing importance of influencer marketing and the growing impact of influencers on youth generations. Gen Z members, in particular, have a strong trust in YouTube stars, highly exceeding their trust in celebrities. Teens take YouTube stars and Instagram celebrities as their role models, look up to them and connect to them. These social media stars are much more approachable than my former idols Britney and Christina have ever been. Social networks allow for a closer form of connection between influencers and teens. The influencers share their private lives in detail on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and their followers can communicate with them in the comments next to an Instagram post or below a YouTube video. The connection between influencers and their audience is much more personal than it was for earlier generations. As a result, these stars enjoy their follower’s trust and offer a high potential for identification. A product recommendation from them, therefore, resembles a recommendation from a friend rather than an advertisement.

Companies from all over the world have recognized the potential of influencers early on. Brands from sectors like beauty, fashion and fitness have partnered with social media stars to promote their products. Since members of Gen Z are prone to trends, the concept of having influencers promote products works extremely well. Due to the rather friendly relation between influencers and followers, the audience does not necessarily perceive the promotion of products as advertisements, but as recommendations from a person they trust.

Ads of German influencer Bibisbeautypalace

This trust results in a loyal and extended following. German YouTuber and influencer Bianca (@bibisbeautypalace) has more than 5 million followers on Instagram and creates a media value per post of 25,215$. By the way: Christina Aguilera does not even have 4 million followers.

Media metrics of German influencer Bibisbeautypalace (InfluencerDB)

Bianca’s engagement rates highlight her success. Her like follower ratio of 5.6% and almost 54,000 comments per post over the last 4 weeks show that she has very dedicated, active and involved followers.

Engagement metrics of German influencer Bibisbeautypalace (InfluencerDB)

Stars like Bianca as well as British influencer Zoe Sugg (@zoella) and Tyler Oakley have long recognized the impact they have as influencers. All three of them do not only cooperate with brands but have become brands themselves.

Bianca launched her own series of shower foams some years ago. The Instagram channel of her brand Bilou (@mybilou) so far assembled more than 1.2 million followers. The second collection of her products reached a market share of 29% in the commodity group in the first week after the launch in 2016.

Zoella has her own collection of beauty products, ranging from body lotion to room scents. Her Tutti Frutti collection is sold online at Superdrug and the store received twice as many visitors as normal the day of the launch with 25% of visitors heading directly to Zoella’s section.

Tyler Oakley’s book Binge was published in 2015 and became a New York Times bestseller. According to The Guardian, Oakley earned 5 million dollars that year.

The takeaway

As we see, younger generations are not as easily impacted by traditional forms of advertising as older generations are. It takes more to gain their attention due to them being swamped by content online all day long. But the Generation Z also opens doors for more exciting forms of advertisement that actively involve the addressees instead of just pushing them into the role of passive consumers. Approaching potential customers in a personal and engaging way is key for brands today and the best results can be achieved with the help of social media personalities and influencers.

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