Influencer marketing is a fantastic way of engaging your young audiences and communicating with them in a relatable, accessible way, and we love discussing the pros and cons of it over at Voxburner. But who are the influencers that Gen Z are loving right now, and why? And how have brands been working with these social media stars to form killer partnerships? A recent Voxburner survey revealed Gen Z’s favourite influencers, which included: Molly-Mae Hague, Emma Chamberlain, Bretman Rock, KSI and Anastasia Kingsnorth. So, naturally, we’ve decided to take a look at them and their work.
Whatever criticism Molly-Mae faces, her loyal followers stand by this influencer’s side every step of the way. Voted ‘most inspirational influencer’ in a recent Voxburner survey, 23-year-old Molly Mae Hague shot to fame during the fifth series of reality TV show Love Island, in which she was runner-up with her partner Tommy Fury. Molly-Mae is somewhat of a business mogul and runs an empire dedicated to fashion and lifestyle. As one of the most-followed influencers in the UK and easily the most successful ex-Love Island contestant, Molly-Mae is admired by thousands of young people.
Molly-Mae has had her fair share of criticism in the past, but this doesn’t seem to have much of a negative impact on her future. Her appointment as Creative Director of fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing was met with backlash, and her questionable comments on entrepreneur Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast led to chaos on the internet, but this iconic influencer just bounces right back again. Whether it’s her relatable mannerisms, her on-trend clothing hauls or her ‘girl boss’ attitude, Molly-Mae has a host of loyal Gen Z followers.
This famous influencer is known for her bouncy, blonde curls which have Gen Zers across the country trying to emulate the look. Hair care and accessory brand Beauty Works have collaborated with Molly-Mae to release her own collection on the site, which includes straighteners, hair extensions and shampoos. Molly-Mae also shares exclusive discounts on her social media pages to help her loyal fans purchase the products and copy her looks.
21-year-old Emma Chamberlain is the embodiment of Gen Z culture, from her language and humour to her references and fashion. Emma started her social media channel whilst suffering from depression in high school, and is now very open about her struggles with mental health – something which Gen Z really admires (particularly when we consider that 79% of UK 16-24s describe their generation as anxious). As well as being a fashion icon to thousands, Emma also made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2021.
Alongside her incredibly successful YouTube channel, Emma has a podcast, Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain, in which she discusses personal topics such as female friendships, her relationship with alcohol and much more. Her USP? She makes listeners and viewers feel like they’re interacting with a close friend, thus creating that trusted influencer-follower relationship that’s so important.
60% of Gen Z would describe their generation as entrepreneurial, and much like Molly Mae, Emma falls into this category. Emma’s business, Chamberlain Coffee, is her main focus, and when she took a short break from YouTube to focus on her business and mental health she was honest and upfront with her fans, proving to them that she’s relatable and humble and that it’s okay to put wellness over fame.
Emma partnered up with fashion brand PacSun for their Spring 2022 range, which centred around ‘looking to the future and the dream of escapism’. Alongside aesthetic photographs of Emma, the campaign featured augmented reality and virtual experiences, including the brand’s first video game, PacSun the Game.
Commenting on the partnership, Brieane Olson, president of PacSun, said: “[Emma] is such an authentic voice and style icon for our youth community, and we are thrilled to continue our journey together as PacSun steps further into the metaverse.”
Emma is a renowned vegetarian and recently partnered with Mediterranean culinary brand CAVA to release her own menu items: Emma’s Fire Bowl and Emma’s Spicy Snack. The partnership was born out of Emma’s genuine love for the brand’s Spicy Hummus, which caught the attention of the CAVA team after an interaction on Instagram.
A 23-year-old Filipino social media star who shot to fame on Vine and YouTube, Bretman Rock specialises in make-up and fashion content and is all about LGBTQ+ solidarity and being true to yourself. Notably, Bretman has been the face of Nike’s Pride campaign and has worked with designers including Michael Kors and Stella McCartney. Bretman also appeared on the cover of Playboy in 2021 as its first openly gay male.
Aside from his witty humour, sassy attitude and infamous quotes, Bretman passionately discusses topics that are incredibly important to Gen Z, including LGBTQ+ issues, racism, the environment and much more. Bretman makes these issues accessible and lighthearded, meaning his audience is wide, varied and loyal.
In 2021, Bretman teamed up with Crocs to release his own set of Jibbitz (featuring some of his most iconic catchphrases, of course). We already know that Crocs are regaining popularity amongst this generation, with international superstars such as Justin Bieber fronting campaigns, so the Bretman-Crocs partnership seems like a Gen Zer’s dream come true.
Interestingly, fans couldn’t just buy these accessories – quantities were limited and the drop was held via a drawing system, making them even more exclusive and desired.
Eyewear label Dime partnered up with Bretman two years ago to launch four new pairs of sunglasses which were featured in a campaign inspired by Renaissance painters (a.k.a the influencers of the 14th century). This style of art and the romanticism of life is a massive genre of its own on TikTok, and the promotional material was hugely popular amongst 16-24s.
How could we leave out the OG Queen of social media?
Kylie Jenner is no stranger to the limelight, having been broadcast from a young age on Keeping Up With The Kardashians along with her superstar siblings, Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian.
At just 24-years-old, Kylie Jenner is running her own international empire and shares every moment of her life on her social media channels, from the birth of her children (although ‘Stormi baby’ was a complete surprise to even her most dedicated followers) to her new business ventures. And whilst her lifestyle is completely unrelatable for the vast majority of Gen Zers, we’d argue that’s why they love her so much – her aesthetic, carefully crafted and unimaginable lifestyle is something that they can look on from afar (whether that be in admiration or distaste), whilst fans also feel a sense of familiarity towards her having watched her grow up online.
This influencer owns so many businesses that the world of brand collabs is almost beyond her; aside from taking her own brands into stores such as Ulta Beauty, this woman is her own business boss!
21-year-old Manchester-based influencer Anastasia shot to fame when she was 13 on YouTube, and her popularity has continued to grow since then. Anastasia’s family make regular appearances in her videos (particularly her younger brother Atticus), and this family-orientated attitude makes her a relatable and friendly figure to her audiences.
Anastasia’s videos mainly focus on beauty, fashion and her personal life, and she also co-hosts a podcast called Friends Without Benefits, as well as having her own clothing line with the hugely popular In The Style (formerly known for styling the Love Island contestants).
In 2020, Anastasia teamed up with Skinnydip to release her own range, which included everything from phone cases to make-up bags, AirPods cases to handbags, all inspired by Anastasia’s favourite prints and sayings.
This was a big move for the influencer, as the brand has previously collaborated with household names including Jade Thirlwall (of Little Mix) and Barbie.
Whilst these were the 5 most popular influencers named in our survey, we wanted to make an honourable shoutout to the following: Anna Paul, Sophia & Cinzia, Kylie Jenner, Addison Rae, Whitney Simmons, Hailey Bieber and Jackie Aina.
Find out how your brand can work with influencers to boost your youth engagement using our Influencer Report, available now on Voxburner+.
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