‘Influencers’ having huge impact on Gen Z purchasing and opinion
A world-first index of Australia’s top 100 leading influencers has revealed digital content creators are shaping Gen Z decisions – particularly among girls – on everything from to fashion to food
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More than half of all Gen Z* girls would quit school or their job to become an influencer if they could, according to new research.
The groundbreaking* behavioural analysis of Aussies aged 15-40 reveals the enormous impact that online content creators are having on young people, influencing everything from what they buy and do to how they think and feel.
The study shows that 73 per cent follow at least one influencer on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, with most of those following multiple creators.
They view influencers overwhelmingly positively and look to them to form their opinions on issues.
The research was conducted for The Influence Index, a ranking of the 100 most truly impressive, inspirational influencers in Australia.
The world-first index uses a custom-made measurement tool built in partnership with global experts in behavioural science*, The Behavioural Architects, and social intelligence monitoring agency Storyful.
The research found Generation Z respondents didn’t just follow influencers, many wanted to be one: 56 per cent of females aged 15-25 said they would leave their career or education to become an influencer if they could, compared with 39 per cent of Millennial* women.
Sixty-nine per cent of followers had bought something recommended by an influencer and 77 per cent looked to influencers to help them make up their mind about issues, while 59 per cent said they had changed their opinion because of an influencer.
Eighty-seven per cent saw influencer content every time or most of the time they logged on to platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat; and 80 per cent used social media multiple times a day, which increased that exposure*.
In addition to overall trends, the research highlights the differences between the many types of creators, from fashion and food to gaming and comedy, and the multiple platforms, with TikTok emerging as the big winner.
It also dives down into generational and gender splits.
The study revealed almost all Gen Z girls were active on social media and 88 per cent of them followed at least one influencer.
Melbourne schoolgirl Mia, 14, said influencers felt like friends because their posts were relatable, fun and honest. She estimated she followed more than 50 influencers and said she had bought clothes, make-up and haircare products and tried out recipes after seeing them on social media.
“I like people who make funny videos, or dancing videos or people who make food,” she said.
“I even have some people who just talk about what they do in their day, and I follow them too.”
The Australian Influencer Marketing Council chair Sharyn Smith said the research would help destigmatise* the term “influencer”, particularly with older generations who often “couldn’t wrap their heads around what it is they do”.
While some older people might remain sceptical* that it is a real job, Ms Smith said for younger generations social media content creation had always been a means to express themselves, find information and follow like-minded people.
“Young people or younger generations have grown up following people and being surrounded by this content and creativity,” she said.
“And there’s a real rejection of commercial* content and commercial objectives*. So, they’re drawn to that authenticity*, they’re drawn to that creativity. Someone with an iPhone and a good idea can often produce something way more interesting and more engaging than the biggest advertising agencies.”
Ms Smith said there had been an evolution* of influencers during the pandemic, from people who pushed products on Instagram to creators who “add value to people’s lives” with their creative and informative posts.
“It’s not just this kind of stereotypical* lifestyle beach babe influencer,” she said.
“It goes into any form of interest or niche*, whether I’m interested in baking or plants or mending my own clothes, every possible interest that you could have you can find people who are influencing you or creating content to inspire or inform or educate you.”
A snapshot of the real influence of social media creators on Gen Z and Y:
– 80 per cent use social media more than once a day.
– Females and Gen Z are higher social media users than males and Millennials respectively. 92 per cent of Gen Z females and 88 per cent of Millennial females use social media, compared to 82 per cent of Gen Z males and 80 per cent of Millennial males.
– 73 per cent follow at least one influencer; most follow many more, with 63 per cent following more than five.
– 87 per cent see influencer content every time or most of the time they are on social media.
– 59 per cent have changed their opinion on something because of an influencer – with the figure 66 per cent for both males and Gen Z.
– 70 per cent of followers have bought a product, brand or service because an influencer recommended it.
– Overall sentiment towards influencers is positive. People see them as a source of entertainment and inspiration.
– The key factors in influence are trustworthiness (authenticity, reliability) and attraction – followers aspire to be like them and would want them in their own circle of friends.
– Health and fitness influencers are the most popular type overall, with beauty, fashion and entertainment/pop culture influencers especially appealing to younger Australians.
* Source: Understanding and Mapping the Australian Influencer Landscape Using Behavioural Science report, by The Behavioural Architects, 2022.
- Generation Z: roughly those born between 1997 to 2012
- groundbreaking: original and important, new way of doing or thinking about things
- behavioural science: systematic study of human actions
- Millennials: loosely those born between 1981 and 1996, also known as Gen Y
- exposure: experiencing something or being affected by it
- destigmatise: reduce ore remove negative feelings toward something
- sceptical: doubting that something is true, useful, worthwhile
- commercial: related to commerce and the buying and selling of goods and services
- objective: the purpose, target, goal
- authenticity: quality of being real, true, genuine
- evolution: process of changing and developing over time
- stereotypical: a fixed, often untrue or only partly true idea
- niche: any small, specialised group or market
- What percentage of those aged 15-40 follow at least one influencer?
- What percentage of Gen Z girls follow at least one influencer?
- What percentage of Gen Z females would leave their education or career to become an influencer if they could?
- What percentage use social media multiple times a day?
- What percentage of Gen Z look to influencers to make up their mind about issues?
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1. Favourite influencers
As pointed out in the behavioural study reported in the Kids News article, many young people aspire to and follow influencers. Work with a partner and choose five influencers you both know of, enjoy or have seen, and create a three-column chart to list your chosen influencers, what they do or promote and why you follow and enjoy them.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English Digital Technologies; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking
Why do you think health and fitness influencers are the most popular?
If you had 100,000+ followers on a social media platform, what sort of products or services would you like to promote?
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking
1. News: condensed
Identify the most important pieces of information in this article and write a condensed version of it using 50 words or less.
Draw a picture or diagram to support your condensed news story.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science
Compare your condensed news story with a classmate. Did you both include the same information or are your stories quite different? Discuss your choices and then work together to create a final condensed version of the story that you both agree tells the important parts that a reader would need or want to know.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English