Influencers have been heralded as the modern marketing campaign’s golden ticket to success. Brands that are willing to attach faces to product names search through countless profiles in the hopes that one well-placed post will guarantee success across awareness and, of course, acquisition. Turns out they’d be better off investing their cash elsewhere.
Influencer content is undoubtedly popular among Gen Z and Millennials. An article published by Adweek cites how over 88 percent of both these generations learn about new products via an influencer account. Despite this awareness and the influx of perhaps millions of influencer accounts—from the macro to the micro—younger demographics seem to be pulling back from influencers en masse.
This, of course, mainly stems from the savviness Gen Z and Millennials have regarding the internet marketing game. They’re well aware that even the most “authentic” of internet personalities are getting paid thousands of dollars for product placement, spending countless hours for one “casual” photo. This reality has caused over 57.1 percent of Tylt voters to conclude that influencers mislead more than they educate, a sharp contrast to what many marketers believe.
Additionally, Gen Z and Millennials are beginning to take more and more extended breaks from the digital world. This is no less due to the effects of social media on one’s mental and emotional wellbeing, especially where influencers are concerned. A majority of 73.3 percent of Tylt voters believe it’s wrong for influencers to Photoshop their content. Therefore, not only do Gen Z and millennials find influencers to be misleading, but also contributing to greater health concerns.
People are opting to go for real sources that they trust in, not the glitz and the glam of a well-edited video. A recent Forbes article highlights how only 23 percent of people actually believe in influencer content, with 60 percent instead saying family and friends hold sway over what they buy. Brands who tap into a source that remains influential without being an influencer—essentially, someone that remains trustworthy on a large scale—will not only benefit financially, but build a strong foundation of that key marketing funnel: loyalty.
This isn’t to say that leveraging the well-known to increase awareness never works. It’s more so the assumption for brands to think it works every time, and that younger audiences will fall for any old influencer hook, line and sinker. Take controversial YouTuber Logan Paul, who has been banned from the platform multiple times for inappropriate (as well as insensitive) content. In a Tylt debate on whether or not they’d like to see Logan Paul or fellow influencer, KSI, win in their boxing rematch, a mere 4.5 percent voted in Paul’s favor. Despite the debate drawing in a total of 13,761 votes in all, evidence points to the fact that numbers aren’t everything, and, despite having a large following, brands would do well to avoid association with influencers like Paul altogether.
All younger consumers want is more authenticity. Brands who cater to this need for the real in an increasingly surreal world may do so by having their products endorsed openly and transparently. Honesty is, and forever will be, the best policy, in marketing and beyond.