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Marketing to Gen Z: The Role of Influencers

The status quo for marketing is constantly changing. What used to be profitable and long-lasting campaigns now founder due to the shifting values of the new generation, Gen Z.

With their limited attention span, Gen Zers are forcing businesses to take a hard look at their marketing plans.

Teens of this generation are not reading the fine print and descriptions of the latest upgrades to your product. They are not doing research to learn why a brand’s product is best for them. Gen Z simply needs to be sold during the first impression and within a limited time frame.

How can companies survive in the new reality?

Companies must take the shortened attention spans into consideration when crafting their marketing schemes. In the past, brands viewed marketing with limited words as a waste of time.

Now it’s the complete opposite. In the eyes of this generation, the old methods are considered “over-marketing” that drives interest away.

Gen Z is more visual and creative than any other generation, meaning that using public figures such as celebrities has more impact than ever before. But which influencer should your brand choose to market your product?

Identify the influencers who are right for the job

Brands need to understand that Gen Z is completely different from previous generations. For instance, Gen Z pays little attention to businesspeople. In fact, in a recent survey, only two CEOs of billion-dollar brands had a 100% recognition rate among Gen Zers.

Gen Z is much more aware of celebrities in the entertainment industry, such as rappers and actors.

How should brands utilize these results?

It is essential for a brand to understand these results. It shows how to pull the most consumers from this generation.

Brands need to be proactive in studying which actors are trending on social media, and which rappers are causing the most intense discussions and so-called “movements.”

Once you recognize the trends Gen Z is following, you can choose an influencer to market your products.

Picking the most influential candidate

Times change. And so does social impact. Who Gen Z is supporting today might not be part of the discussion next week. So how do you pick?

Keep it simple and keep it fluid. Countless people in the focused categories are perfect for the job, and nothing needs to be permanent.

Marketing plans change weekly and monthly, so you do not have to keep the same influencer for each plan. Below is a list of current influencers who have great overall followings.

DJ Khaled

  • Known for spreading positivity and love through short videos on Snapchat
  • Wide fanbase supporting his ideas of success

Kevin Hart

  • Often interacts with his fans via social media
  • Teaches self-motivation to better one’s life

Nicki Minaj

  • Preaches the reasons to stay in school at an early age and figure yourself out
  • Proves that industries cannot restrict you if you have the passion and drive to succeed (she’s the queen of rap in a predominantly male domain)

Jon Bellion

  • Consistently reminds teens to ignore hatred and focus on what is possible
  • Teaches how humility and a genuine mindset can fill the gap between happiness and unhappiness


  • Ushered in a new hip hop era, showing this generation that change is possible and passion can lead to a new life
  • Says that emotion is not a weakness; it’s common to all and should be respected rather than derided

Will Smith

  • With quotes such as “Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity,” he teaches that this generation should believe in and push for something better.
  • Teaches youth to ignore hate, saying it isn’t your problem. Avoid acknowledgment of the hate because if you focus too much on it you will destroy your life.

Donald Trump

  • His lack of a filter teaches us to speak our minds and stand up for what we believe.
  • Shows that public speaking comes easily when you are filled with passion. This strengthens young minds to follow what they believe in and have passion for.

LeBron James

  • Shows loyalty through his daily actions. He is always remembering where he came from and who made him. This encourages the younger generation to have respect for their elders and those around them.
  • Is always reaching out, congratulating people and acknowledging his fans. This gives a sense of worth to his followers, who have endless respect for his talent and humility.

Lil Dicky

  • Is constantly interacting with fans, tweeting in response to questions or just offering simple jokes.
  • People relate to his music. It’s a time passer, a mood changer and an idea starter. Lyrics aren’t just rhymes on a page anymore; more and more, the youth are applying these messages to their lives…resulting in a great influence to this generation.

Conor McGregor

  • McGregor holds great influence for anyone trying to accomplish a goal. His story strengthens his speeches, which provide motivation to anyone watching.
  • Although he is fierce and aggressive, he teaches young people to have the fiery passion to do what they want, ignore the doubt and stick to their craft while outworking anyone around them.

Written by Connor Blakley

Connor Blakley helps personal brands and companies position themselves to better connect with Gen Z in order to create lifelong brand loyal consumers. He works alongside a North American Gen Y & Z consultancy, Intercept Group, who supports brands like Microsoft, 3M, 7-Eleven, Unilever, Toyota, L’Oreal. Together, they help brands connect with Gen Y & Z consumers.

A highly sought after speaker, Blakley has spoken at schools, conferences, and companies on various topics including youth marketing/branding, entrepreneurship and social media.

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