In 2019, Gen Z makes up 32% of the global population. By 2020, it is estimated that the age group will form 40% of all EU, US and BRIC consumers, with an estimated ‘soft’ spend of $5 trillion globally per year.As the spending power and influence of this demographic continues to grow at breakneck speed, brands must adapt their communications and sales strategies to remain relevant for this audience in an ever-changing retail landscape.As digital natives, fluent in rapid information gathering, Gen Z process information in a completely new way; primarily through digital platforms. They demand originality, creativity, transparency, accountability and most importantly, authenticity. The stakes for retailers are high – with the consequences of getting it wrong costly and immediately felt.  Whilst a handful of retailers are nailing their influencer marketing strategy with an Instagram digital-first approach (the recent launch of Glossier Play is a brilliant example), the vast majority are still falling at the first hurdle. Gone are the days of celebrity-fronted campaigns, where brands default to transmitting their message through the voice of A-List talent. Today, the most successful companies tapping into the mindset of Gen Z are those who engage their customers in the conversation, with personalised and targeted content they can identify and converse with. Here’s how brands can give Gen Z a reason to ‘belong’, rather than simply ‘buy’ through targeted influencer marketing. 

#1 Micro-influencers will show authenticity

In contrast to Gen X and Millennials, Gen Z aren’t as interested in celebrity-fronted content. Instead, they want to hear from people they can identify with and consider to be part of their community.  Macro-influencers are great for immediate brand awareness and delivering product messages; however, micro (10k-50k) and nano-influencers (2k-10k) are swaying purchase behaviour with people my age. Brands need to remember that even though the top 1% of influencers may have hundreds of thousands of followers, a genuine passion for brand partnerships are rare with big names.By comparison, micro- and nano-influencers will deliver a better return on investment (ROI) because they have more active relationships with their followers. Research by Experticity shows that 82% of people take recommendations from micro- and nano-influencers, so it’s worth tapping into this space.

#2 Create relationships

Gen Z knows when they are being sold to, so brands should be more aware of how they engage in conversation with them – talking with customers rather than at them. Brand storytelling should result in better engagement, and the best way to achieve this is through building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with influencers, as opposed to using them for one-off campaigns with limited results. With video content, I recommend influencers keep things unscripted, so it feels natural. As a result, the partnership looks authentic, with some insight into the influencer’s lifestyle and how the product or brand impacts their routine.

#3 Let an influencer create an advert for you

Collaborations with influencers to produce content for a brand’s social media channels work really well. Why not work with an influencer to plan and produce a cool advert? Their established following reflects their content creation skills – so use this to your advantage.Invite the influencer to take part in an Instagram take-over: creating grid posts, captivating stories or a live Q&A, directing their own followers to your account. To increase the buzz, ask the influencer to pre-promote the take-over on their channel with click-through links and agreed hashtags.

#4 Go beyond Instagram

While Instagram will likely remain the most popular social platform, brands shouldn’t overlook other channels. Influencers base their collaboration prices on engagement and demand, so whilst brands continue to ask for Instagram posts and Stories first, those influencers with large numbers of followers will drive their prices up. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok are all worth utilising, especially because prices may be lower, which can potentially result in better ROI. Also, brands that have worked with an influencer for a long period of time should consider asking them to create new product ranges, be expert commentators in their field or become brand consultants.

#5 Find the right fit

It is important that brands research an influencer’s audience to decide whether they are the right fit. Do their followers live in a relevant area, do they hold the same views, do they have the right interests? When using influencers, the end goal should be to reach and connect with your target audience to grow awareness of the brand and kick-start new conversations.
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