Gen Z Influencers – Are Celebrity Endorsers Doomed to Extinction?

As Gen Z starts to dominate the consumer landscape, will celebrity endorsers lose their status? Quizzing my Gen Z college students about brands they’re loyal to and brand influencers, I find that they’re more focused on social media and peers than they are on advertising and celebrity endorsers.

As Gen Z starts to dominate the consumer landscape, will celebrity endorsers lose their status?

Quizzing my Gen Z college students about brands they’re loyal to and brand influencers, I find that they’re more focused on social media and peers than they are on advertising and celebrity endorsers. When asked to give examples of categories where they’re brand loyal, most of the female students turn to cosmetics, a category where the opinion leaders have traditionally been celebrities. Many female students reference little-known (at least to me) YouTube make-up artists, rather than celebrities. The beauty category may become the first to turn completely away from traditional celebrity endorsers. But what others will follow? This Gen Z trend will be a challenge for marketers to keep up with in a burgeoning consumer cohort.

“Influencers, such as Kylie Jenner and Huda Kattan have started successful beauty lines, built on their base of online followers. However, as social platforms become more crowded, some iGens are looking to more niche apps to express themselves, making it harder for brands to identify up-and-coming influencers.” Mintel, MARKETING TO THE iGENERATION US, MAY 2018

This new breed of beauty influencer is making an impact on Beautycon (think the Consumer Electronics for cosmetics). Moj Mahdara, Beautycon  CEO, notes “Nearly three-quarters of Beautycon’s target audience — Gen Z-ers and younger Millennials — say they are influenced more by ‘content creators’ than traditional celebrities, according to Beautycon’s research.” The New York Times, July 28, 2018

Cosmetics marketers are adapting.

“Our in-store marketing will feature authentic, real-girl product reviews, with the intent to teach the customer how she can use our products or why they’re trending, rather than to tell her what to buy.” Linda Chang, co-founder, Riley Rose Global Cosmetic Industry Feb. 1, 2018

“Although most beauty purchases are made in-store, more than 40% of Gen Z makes purchase decisions based on real-time social media feedback. A beauty brand’s packaging or product might catch their eye, but if someone’s influencers don’t like it? No sale.” Global Cosmetic Industry,June 1, 2018

What does this trend in the beauty industry mean for marketers in other categories? Are Michael Jordan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson about to lose substantial portions of their incomes?

Tech already depends on bloggers and YouTubers to explain, review and endorse their products. And while Nike relies heavily on celebrity endorsers like LeBron James and Serena Williams, they brand also pays homage to everyday people with its Dream Crazy campaign, encouraging everyday people to share their crazy dream.

In your view, what other categories are beginning to adapt to this Gen Z trend?