For years, well before adopting the moniker of influencer marketing, brands have sought endorsements from celebrities and people of note. Generations that came before Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alphas—notably Generation X and Baby Boomers—can also be swayed by the right message from the right person at the right time.
Influencer marketing has become the catchall term for certain types of celebrities, experts, thought leaders, bloggers, and content creators who use their online presence to affect a group of people’s purchasing choices. It is one of the fastest-growing brand-building strategies, nearly tripling in value to an estimated $9.7 billion in recent years.
To develop killer influencer marketing strategies for all generations, it’s essential to understand the formula of the message, influencer, place, and time most effective for each generation.
The assumption that Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are not technologically savvy is a myth that has been debunked time and time again. In fact, on average, Boomers spend more time on social media than Millennials. While Facebook is their preferred platform, you’ll also find them reading blogs and other online articles for information and watching videos about products and services on YouTube and TikTok.
Boomers use Facebook to remain in contact with family and friends. They also follow influential people and groups, with 52% of consumers from the Baby Boomer generation making their buying decisions based on online reviews.
Nano- and micro-influencers who have an authentic connection to this group are critical for an effective influencer marketing campaign. In addition, brands need to recognize opportunities with the new, older influencer landscape, where 50-plus influencers are making a significant impact across lifestyle, fitness and fashion.
And while Boomers may not be the generation spending the most time on mobile, they still use their phones a significant amount of time each day.
Generation X (born 1965-1980) was entering adulthood when the internet took off, so they are the original social media pioneers. Gen X has enormous spending power, just behind Baby Boomers, so leaving them out of influencer marketing campaigns can mean leaving a significant amount of money on the table.
What kind of messaging reaches Gen X? Interestingly, nostalgia seems to affect Gen X more than any other generation. Of the 1.5 billion videos that this cohort watches each day, 75% of them are related to the past.
Gen X tends to be persuaded by other Generation X members, so consider this when selecting influencers for your campaigns. They, like Baby Boomers, love to see celebrities, especially those from their favorite shows, movies, and bands while growing up.
Millennials are the generation most closely associated with influencer marketing. Born 1981-1996, Millennials engage more with influencers and connect more deeply with brands than any other generation.
Messaging for Millennials often focuses on specific causes, as 37% of this cohort say they’re willing to pay more for products that promote social good, especially those that align with their own values. This is a well-known psychological effect called the Noble Edge, and it’s a great place to start when developing your influencer strategy.
Millennials also prefer messaging created with the simple purpose of entertaining them. Therefore, influencers who can exhibit unique talents or make consumers from this generation laugh are likely to gain increased credibility and notoriety.
While you’ll find plenty of Millennials on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, keep in mind that this generation is always on top of the latest and greatest trends. As new platforms emerge, consider developing strategies for using TikTok, Clubhouse, and now, Caffeine.
Gen Z — born 1997-2012 — now makes up 40% of consumers. They are the most “plugged in” generation to date, spending three hours every day on social media, consuming and creating content.
While Millennials may be synonymous with influencers, Generation Z has less regard for traditional marketing tactics than any generation before it, so influencer marketing is vital with this group. In addition, their resistance to one-size-fits-all marketing sets this group apart from other generations.
Not only does Gen Z spend their own money, but they have a considerable influence on their families’ purchases—to the tune of 60% of the family’s clothing purchases, 77% of food and beverage purchases, and 66% of travel.
This group is made up of early adopters for tech as well. You won’t find them much on the old standards like Facebook and Twitter, but you will catch them on Instagram. You’ll also see them on Twitch, Snapchat, and TikTok. And, of course, YouTube, which draws all generations. This generation is particularly driven by great video content, whether in Instagram reels or TikTok posts.
Very much like Millennials, Gen Z prefers to see authentic content from people they know. Micro- and nano-influencers work well in this particular space, while celebrities don’t sway this group at all.
It’s important to note that Millennials are the “mobile-first” generation. They want their fun, data, relationships, experiences always at hand. Millennials often are not buying to acquire, but instead to participate, collaborate and to co-experience.
Though still young, Generation Alpha (born 2010-2025) is not a group to ignore. Since birth, Gen Alpha has stared at digital screens and has more spending power than the generations before them did at the same age. Children under age twelve influence up to $500 billion in spending each year on household purchases. More than half of this generation wants to buy a product if their favorite YouTube or Instagram influencer uses or wears it.
Because there are regulations for marketing to children, marketers need to be aware of COPPA nuances before developing influencer programs. But once set, they’ll find that 55% of Gen Alpha want to own what their favorite YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram influencers own.
Members of Gen Alpha are becoming strong advocates for brands through influencer marketing. For example, Ryan Kaji, the 9-year-old Gen Alpha YouTube star, has 22.2 million followers and earned $22 million last year demonstrating and reviewing toys on Ryan’s World, one of YouTube’s most lucrative channels.
Influencer marketing can introduce brands to important new audiences and yield impressive ROI. Understanding their target audiences and how they relate to influencers will help marketers elevate their brand awareness and increase sales with their most important demographics.