The Rise of Youth Culture in Influencer Marketing

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The internet has enabled a new generation of influencers to emerge. Though the term ‘influencer’ may be a more recent invention, celebrities have been impacting consumers’ decisions for the past 100 years. When asked in 1960 about what she wears to bed, Marilyn Monroe replied with the now iconic quote “I only wear Chanel No. 5”. Even today the perfume draws connections to Monroe. The difference is today some of the primary influencers don’t need to have the star-power Marilyn Monroe held to win over consumers.

They don’t have to act. They don’t have to sing. They don’t have to dance. What do they do?

They post photos on Instagram.

John Ross and Ian Connor promote Drake’s label OVO

Some of the most powerful influencers today are youths. They aren’t always a household name, they aren’t always pretty. One star of this movement, Luka Sabbat, first came to popularity at the age of 16. He was soon walking the runway for hot labels like VFILES or Hood By Air. Today his instagram has amassed 483,000 followers. His bio simply reads “Stylist-Entrepreneur-Champion”. His instagram features frequent posts of his outfits usually sporting highly coveted labels such as John Elliot, Balenciaga or Off-White. He may be a self-proclaimed ‘champion’ at age 19, but he is no anomaly.

John Ross. Ian Connor. Heron Preston. Virgil Abloh. Playboi Carti. The list is endless. Some of them may be artists or designers, but others are known for simply their style. Many young labels  have gained quick popularity, and some of it is largely due to these types of influencers. They embody the sort of “cool” that is extremely difficult to be created by a marketing team. It’s raw, unpolished and authentic. There is a saying: good artists copy, great artists steal. These popular social media youths hold very powerful influence that can be harnessed and utilized by new and existing brands. It is extremely important for new brands and businesses to understand the sway of non-traditional marketing tactics such as the use of influencers. The ideology is simple enough: “if xyz is wearing that shirt, I want that shirt”.  

It is equally important that a chosen influencer could fit with the persona of the brand. Not every influencer works with every brand. Fit and compatibility are crucial. It is also important to consider the reach of the influencer, so their follower count and approximate post engagement should be considered. It is essential to stay up to date on rising influencers that may be useful to your brand, in order to capitalize on the popularity of an influencer to forward a business to an expanded audience.