pexels photo 246367 - Marketing to Generation Z: Influencers, Affluence and Fauxsumerism
August 14, 2017

Marketing to Generation Z: Influencers, Affluence and Fauxsumerism

Written By Nikki McCaig

Loosely described in the satirical article: ‘Every Generation Z Takeover Story You’ll Be Reading for the Next 10 Years’ (The Content Strategist), the diverse forms of marketing associated with Post-Millennials are having a unique impact on the ways industries are advertising.

With Generation Z overwhelming the retail sector as high profile consumers, brands and businesses are under increased pressure to find new and innovative ways of reaching this lucrative demographic – from personalised soft drink bottles to user-generated podcasts and ebooks. Though a tough target audience to approach, there are still some innovative ways that industry advertisers are marketing to Gen Zers.

So how should we be marketing to the Post-Millennials?

When advertising to Millennials, one of the first things to remember is that traditional or outbound marketing strategies will not work. Standard print ads, pop ups, spam emails and televised commercials are no longer impacting or effectively selling products to the younger generations, to the point where they will actively avoid it.

Generation Z and the Post-Millennials have gone one step further, and are now creating ad-blocking software and skippable ads, making outbound marketing virtually and digitally impossible. So, rapidly filling that space, user-generated content and inbound marketing are dominating the advertising spheres, through the rise of influencers, endorsements and affiliations.

The Rise and Fall of Influencers

Where millennial consumers were satisfied by opaque product placement and cheesy brand deals popping up on the channels of their favourite vloggers, Gen Zers have taken a new approach, demanding transparency and organic brand affiliations from their influencers. No longer will an unsubtle sponsorship deal sell to this creativity-led demographic, and so brands and content creators are being pressured to draft fluently incorporated advertising strategies into their scheduled posts and videos.

Self-taught creators, over 60% of Post-Millennials actively post and share personal content online, with their insider knowledge making it difficult for advertisers and marketers to sell through original, innovative methods. Consumers being actively aware of when they’re being advertised to is a new obstacle for the advertising industry, meaning that the content they produce must be honest, creative and affluent with user language to avoid being rejected.

When incorporated successfully, influencer marketing can be extremely successful – as in the case of L’Oreal’s #beauty squad featuring high profile beauty vloggers such as Victoria aka ‘InTheFrow’ and Patricia Bright, which went on to double the sales of their L’Oreal Luxe product line.

When executed poorly, in the example of the 2015 Oreo campaign, in which a selection of British Youtubers were given challengers using Oreos, but did not express clearly that the videos were paid for adverts, the videos were banned and consumers lost trust in their influencers.

There’s a thin line between positive influencer advertising, and negative, but when carried out well, can be extremely beneficial for brands to accomplish.

A New Approach To Fauxsumerism?

As well as online marketing, influencers and advertisers also need to be aware of recent Gen Z approaches to shopping and retail experiences too. Serving as the best example of this transition, the introduction of the Forever 21 app, a platform to scan barcodes of clothing in store and save them to a personalised wishlist on your mobile, summarises the rising Post-Millennial fascination with ‘fauxsumerism’.

Instead of actively purchasing items, the financially conscious Gen Zers are instead focused on creating fantasy lists or mood boards of products they believe represent their personal identity, through sites like Pinterest and Wantfeed. Tying this movement into marketing, brands can now use these wish lists to create hyper personalised content, encouraging users to ‘convert their fantasies into reality’.

One company determined to bridge the gap between luxury goods and digital technology is Cashmere, a social savings app, targeted at consumer-friendly millennials. Inspired by the Net-A-Porter founder, Natalie Massenet, and born from the idea that indulgent spending should be an enjoyable experience, rather than a guilty activity, the app is designed to encourage young people to save – not just for life’s large investments, but for the small, and personal splurges too. In the words of creator, Urenna Okonkwo, ‘Cashmere is built for the modern millennial, the fashion fanatic, the young sartorialist’, and is directly targeting the millennial demographic. Using the example of an aborted Louboutin purchase, in which Okonkwo refused herself a luxury indulgence, she describes her decision to create an app that allows users to put aside their money for ‘guilty pleasures’, and impulsive buying, without dipping into their savings. Simultaneously thrifty and thriving, it is apps like Cashmere that are set to be welcomed into the lifestyle routines of the youngest tech-literate generation.

Helping young people to save smartly for ‘guilty pleasure’ shopping, the idea of planning ahead, preparing for an uncertain future, and saving for the small investments as well as the large is a key trend to note amongst budding Gen Z marketers.

Influencer-led, user generated, affluent and affiliated content are the new buzzwords that brands need to understand to build successful Gen Z marketing campaigns. Without these, marketers run the risk of selling to blank screens and closed minds, so perhaps it’s worth making the transition.

gen z - Marketing to Generation Z: Influencers, Affluence and Fauxsumerism


Image Sources (from left to right):


Kirbi Bourage for Marlon William


Cashmere App: Urenna Okonkwo