Evidence is mounting that Gen Z prefers authenticity online above almost all else, and e-commerce marketers would do well to take notice.
Gen Z is nearly twice as likely to purchase a product on the recommendation of an influencer, according to a new study, Kantar’s U.S. Youth Spotlight: Gen Z and Social Media. Of those the research company surveyed, 44 percent of Gen Z admitted to making an influencer-promoted purchase, compared to just 26 percent of the general population.
However, Gen Z influencers have far smaller social media followings than millennial mainstays like Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen, the study found.
“Celebrity endorsements and A-list spokespeople carry far less clout for Gen Z, whose spheres of influence are defined in much smaller, more intimate terms,” the report read. “For a generation highly sensitive to online fakery and inauthenticity, micro- [or] nano-influencers are a critical and trusted source of information and recommendations.”
Kantar defines micro-influencers as those with followers in the tens of thousands, whereas nano-influencers are individuals with followers in the range of several thousand. Gen Z interacts with nanos “much like they would their friends and family,” Kantar said, due to their high level of accessibility. The research firm recommends targeting these smaller influencers if brands want to capture Gen Z’s attention.
While 48 percent of shoppers say they’ve purchased something based on the recommendation of a nano-influencer, the percentage jumps to 70 percent among Gen Z.
Not only are they more attuned to the subtleties of social media marketing, but Gen Z shoppers are also far more likely to get their information from a wide variety of online sources and maintain a presence on multiple platforms. According to Kantar’s survey, 39 percent of Gen Z maintains four or more social media accounts, a number that drops down to 15 percent combined for every other generation.
Considering its reputation as a somewhat aging platform, Facebook leads all platforms in Gen Z participation (62 percent). Instagram is a close second at 55 percent and YouTube comes in third at 54 percent participation.
Gen Z is also the only generation to use Snapchat on a daily basis, something the platform has labored to turn into a profitable source of income by integrating e-commerce and marketing into fan-favorite features like augmented-reality filters.
Still, success marketing to Gen Z will likely be predicated on an authentic outlook, no matter the platform. While 81 percent of Gen Z sees social media as a unique way to express their genuine selves online—compared to 60 percent of the rest of the population—even more (83 percent) agree that social media can present an “overly positive” view of their lives at the same time.
“Over Gen Zers’ lifetime, social media has evolved from a platform of connection to a platform of self-expression,” the report said. “This is still an important facet of social media to Gen Zers, but they—like many Americans—can’t help but notice that self-expression on social networks often feels empty, inauthentic and fabricated.”