For young consumers, the effect of influencers is already strong and is likely to increase in the years to come, according to a new study from Morning Consult.
Out of the 2,000 consumers between the ages of 13 and 38 that were surveyed for the study, nearly three quarters (72 percent) said they follow influencers on social media. That number rises for younger respondents, with 76 percent of respondents ages 13 to 15 saying they follow influencers, as opposed to 58 percent for those between 32 and 38 years of age.
The ability of influencers to affect purchasing decisions makes that trend one that brands should take into account. More than half (56 percent) of those surveyed said that they have purchased a product after seeing a post from someone they follow on social media. In addition, 18 percent said that they most often learn about new products to buy from influencers.
Influencers have overtaken celebrities in their power to sway consumers, the report says. Over half of Gen Z respondents (52 percent) said they trust influencers to give good advice about brands or products that they are promoting, considerably higher than the 44 percent who say the same about their favorite celebrities or athletes.
When it comes to what makes a specific influencer appealing, “authenticity” tops the list at 58 percent, followed by “funny” (53 percent), “knowledgeable” (48 percent) and “intelligent” (44 percent).
Instagram and YouTube remain the top places overall for younger consumers to go to follow their favorite influencers. For men, YouTube is most popular, while more women opt for Instagram. Facebook, which comes in second for respondents between the ages of 22 and 30, drops off for those 21 and under.
And as the “micro-influencer” trend gains steam, many of the survey respondents have considered getting into the influencer game themselves, with 86 percent saying they are willing to post sponsored content for money. However, only 12 percent say they currently consider themselves to be influencers, with 27 percent claiming that they know an influencer personally.