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How Gen Z and millennials are driving creator economy growth

What can brands can do to reach these younger consumers?

3 min read

Social Media

Creator economy and Gen Z


Last month, SmartBrief explored how the creator economy is growing and producing opportunities for marketers. This month, we’re looking at how Generation Z and millennials are driving the growth of the creator economy through their online behavior and what brands can do to reach these younger consumers.

Some 64% of American Gen Z and millennial consumers “really enjoy and feel loyal to” creators and influencers, with 61% reporting they regularly buy products they’ve seen creators use or discuss on social media, according to a “Reaching the Unreachables” report from Whalar.

The research contains other interesting findings for marketers:

  • Younger consumers are more inclined to be active within small, private digital communities, allowing them to connect more meaningfully with those who share their interests.
  • Almost 3 in 4 Gen Z and millennial consumers share content from other individuals at least every week.
  • Over 50% say it’s critical that their values are shared by brands and around 4 in 10 say it’s essential for a brand to be minority-owned.
  • Around 70% are more likely to trust reviews from people who “seem like them.”
  • Over 60% trust recommendations more if they come from within online communities they use.
  • Over half of Gen Z doesn’t watch any ad-supported TV on any given day, and over 60% of both Gen Z and millennials always block or avoid online ads.

The report offers 3 tips for marketers when using creators and communities to reach young audiences:

  • Make listening, not selling, your focus.
  • Offer value as an “invited guest.” Consider using exclusive experiences and content to demonstrate respect to digital communities.
  • Don’t dictate to creators, collaborate with them as you would another brand.

It’s all about community

It’s clear that younger Americans are rejecting traditional media in favor of inclusive online and social communities where they can interact with creators and others to not only discuss their interests, but discover and buy products.

The importance of community is reflected in the findings of Patreon’s first Creator Census 2022, which found, among other things, that creators who give their fanbase or community a custom name have higher retention rates than those who don’t.

This is a telling finding, as it offers an insight into why consumers favor digital communities – they convey a sense of belonging. Marketers who work with creators to reinforce that feeling will be successful at reaching and building trust with younger audiences.

As Jamie Gutfreund, global chief marketing officer of Whalar said in a press release, “The future is creators, and there’s no turning back.”