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The Top Things Millennials & Gen Z Have Discovered Because Of Influencers

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

As influencer marketing matures, we wanted to know what products, brands, entertainment, and more young consumers are actually learning about from online celebrities…

Brand trust is at an all-time low with young consumers. The famously ad-skipping generation is turning away from the traditional avenues of influence and are looking to their peers for advice. Now, word-of-mouth marketing is king, and brands have to learn to leverage authenticity to get Millennials’ and Gen Z’s attention.

Fortunately, there’s a burgeoning solution: influencer marketing, the oh-so-hot trend we’ve predicted will reach maturity in 2018. Our Influencer Effect research has shown that marketing that taps popular online icons is breaking through young consumers’ barricades and impacting their product choices. Ypulse’s own research found that nearly half of 13-35-year-olds follow online celebrities and creators (defined as bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, social media stars, etc.) on social media, and four in ten say they have purchased something that an online celebrity has spoken about or recommended. This has everything to do with trust. Young consumers see online celebrities as their friends and are turning to them as trusted sources of information. In fact, young consumers are seven times more likely to trust someone they follow on social media over a traditional celebrity, according to, and Ypulse data found that four in ten 13-35-year-olds believe online celebrities are the most relatable type of celebrity.

With this intimacy of connection, it’s becoming the norm for young consumers to expect influencers to get even better at reflecting their interests by introducing them to the next hot product or trend. And that means the prospect of reaching young consumers through partnerships with influencers is high. But we’ll be honest: this is a complicated marketing space. Knowing how young consumers are actually engaging with influencers and the brands they partner with is key to diving into the social marketing space. So, to get a better sense of just how well the influencer effect is working, we asked 13-35-year-olds to tell us what things they’ve found out about from online celebrities. Here’s what they had to say:

Online celebrities are reaching Gen Z and Millennials differently. While the top four categories are the same for both generations, Gen Z is far more likely to learn about new entertainment content from influencers than they are to learn about products. Once we get into retail products and lifestyle trends however, Gen Z influence drops off significantly while Millennial attention stays steady. Previous Ypulse data found that across the board Gen Z is more open to influencer marketing than Millennials. Twenty-nine percent of Gen Z says they would buy a product recommended by an online celebrity compared to 23% of Millennials, and 23% of Gen Z says they’d like to see online celebrities as spokespersons for brands compared to just 17% of Millennials. While this shows that digitally native teens–who barely remember a time before the social media scroll–are likely the biggest future consumer for influencer marketing, the above chart shows that there’s still work to be done to reach the younger demo with products they’re interested in.

That said, it should come as no surprise that “new song / music artist” came in at number one for both generations—13-35-year-olds love musicians. They are the top type of celebrity young consumers follow on social media, as well as the kind of celebrity they say they admire the most and that have the most talent when compared to online stars, Hollywood stars, and athletes. We’ve also seen that Gen Z and Millennials are slightly more likely to say that they would pay attention to paid posts from musicians on social media than paid posts over online influencers/creators or Hollywood actors/actresses. That means the potential for brands to form successful partnerships with musicians is high, even if what they’re selling has nothing to do with music.

Other than entertainment, fashion and beauty is the next biggest category to reach Millennials and Gen Z. Nearly half of Millennials say they have found out about a beauty product from an online celebrity, and nearly as many have learned about fashion or beauty trends and clothing brands. Again, no surprise here: #spon and #ad posts on social media are dominated by beauty, lifestyle, and fashion brands, and young consumers are eating it up. Buzz about new beauty trends moves fast on social media, where products, looks, and brands can come up quickly. Plus, the beauty industry knows their ad-skipping audience, and leverages curated aesthetics paired with perfect influencer partnerships to boost their brands.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.