Generation Z is a new powerful and influential group of consumers that brands and advertisers try to reach. They are changing the rules of advertising and abandoning traditional media, they spent hours on internet and social media. They trust their peers and members of their community/tribe most when it comes to product or brand choices. How to reach this target? Influence marketing offers brands a credible and authentic way to engage these consumers.

Gen Z influence and purchasing power

Generation Z is a new cohort of consumers.   Who are they and what they expect from brands   has already been covered in my previous article. 

Born between mid 90ies and 2012 most of them are still in school but they already have an impressive direct buying power up to $143 billion annually in the US. (estimate by Barkley  published in January 2018)

Moreover, they have a very strong influence over their parents on many household purchasing decisions. In the recent study by IMB Institute for Business and Value in association with NRF over 70% of Gen Z respondents said they influence family decisions on buying furniture, household goods, and food and beverages.



Different studies by various organisations have stated that parents of Gen Z  confirm their children impact their family spendings at least in some way.

The estimate of the spending on Generation Z and or influenced by them is between $116 billion to $333 billion in the US only. No generations of teenagers before them had such an important influence on family decisions. This makes this group a very attractive target for brands and marketers.

But how to engage and influence this influential consumer?

Generation Z media and advertising attitudes

Generation Z requires a more authentic and “real life” communication vs traditional advertising. They are abandoning the traditional media. Teenagers still watch 1 hour of TV per day, but this is much less compared to older generations. On the contrary, these teenagers spend hours online and on social media in search of the latest content and entertainment. As first truly digital natives they are inseparable with their smartphones.

IBM Institute for Value and NRF

9 out of 10 Generation Z respondents in GlobalWeb Index survey say entertainment is an important reason to go online.  When online, they also like avoiding advertising. According to Millward Brown Kantar AdReaction, an estimated 36% and 42% of Gen Zers have negative attitudes towards non-skippable pre-roll ads and pop-ups, respectively. They are also more likely to skip the online ads a few seconds sooner than older generations. Many Generation Z have an ad-blocking software on their computers, hence making it very hard for brands trying to reach them. 

Gen Z Influence Marketing and Social Media

Peer to peer approval and influence have always been important for teens of any generations. However, in the world of social media this phenomenon is further amplified.  Social media makes the trends change faster than ever before.

”The notion of a tribe is very important for Gen Z” says Elisabeth Soulier anthropologue and coach who works with many Generation Z teenagers. “They live in tribes. A strong need of security, nesting and belonging is translated by membership in multiple communities, that are integrative and not exclusive. Conviviality is one of key values of Generation Z. They define themselves as « beings of relations », the notion of ‘a person’ vs ‘an individual’ is rehabilitated by this generation. Its other who comforts me in the idea of who I am as a human being, with my qualities and competencies. They therefore create not just one identity but the web of multiple personalities, with different « roles » depending on the community/ tribe they are in ». 

Social Media platforms help in satisfying this strong need of belonging to a community/tribe as well as conviviality of Generation Z. They use different social platforms with different objectives, some for entertainment, getting news, others for socialising. Moreover,  85% Of Gen Z  claims to use social media to learn about new product


Gen Z has redefined the notion of  ‘celebrity’. Other generations before them had traditional celebrities for their role models. These teenagers want to take example from “real people” often their age. Gen Z  stars are the YouTubers and  influencers. They became famous thanks to these social media platforms. Their content is often seen as more credible, entertaining and creative then the traditional brands communications. Gen Z consumers recognise the impact of the social media influencers on their purchase decisions. Getting a recommendation from an influencers does not feel like an advertising, its like getting a recommendation from a friend. 

Therefore, influence marketing has become one of the most successful strategies in reaching Gen Z. Influencers offer a powerful tool for integrating brands content into teenagers’ online experiences. As they share common interests and values with their followers, these influencers often know how to communicated with their audience better then brands. They know what content and tone of voice will work with this target. Influence marketing hence offers brands a less intrusive and a more credible alternative to the advertising that Generation Z consumers often choose to skip/ block. However, brands need to watch out not to overuse the influencers or dictate the content they have to share as it creates a credibility and authenticity problem. Brands need to trust the influencer to allow him/her creating brand content on its behalf.  

The rise of the micro-influencers is in part an answer to this problem. With 10k followers on average, they are less expensive, more authentique  and have  higher engagement rates compared to the mega stars of influence marketing who have troubles staying « close » and accessible to the millions of their followers. It also allows the brand to choose the influencers better fitting its values and personality and develop the long term and trust relationships with them.

I will cover this subject in more details in my professional thesis for MBA MCI, that will be available in the end of September 2018.