Gen Z Advertising in 2024: Influence or Be Influenced

Gen Z has already become one of the most influential groups of internet users and, unsurprisingly, they became a subject for attention from researchers and marketers trying to understand their preferences, especially in the world of marketing. It has already been discussed in the article ‘How Gen Z Is Revolutionizing Advertising In 2023’ that Gen Z prefers more personalized, immersive, and authentic advertisements to static and passive ones. However, their influence spreads beyond merely watching the ad photos or videos because they have the power to influence marketing, create new trends, and even become participants in ad campaigns.

Beyond Stereotypes: Values and Motivations

First of all, we should get rid of all marketing stereotypes that we know about ads and their effect on people because Gen Z is not like everybody else. Due to being born between the second half of the 1990s and early 2010, they witnessed many life-changing events, such as economic recession, the appearance of digital currency, AR & VR technologies, and Artificial Intelligence advancement, which resulted in them being more pragmatic, entrepreneurial, and critical towards information.

For example, in the US, statistics showed the deviation of Gen Z from the national average regarding preferences and behavior. While other groups of people answered that they rely on TV ads when it comes to choosing products, Gen Z claimed that they pay more attention to social media ads, which also should be creative, entertaining, and funny. 

Advertising types adult members of Generation Z paid the most attention to in the United States as of January 2023

Moreover, Gen Z has a sharp eye when it comes to untrustworthy information. No more loud claims regarding the effectiveness of a product or its “life-changing” abilities; they are not going to believe it as they can sniff out inauthenticity from a mile away.

Therefore, while Gen Z representatives rely on social media, they don’t follow trends blindly; they question, challenge, and demand transparency. 

Media Consumption Revolution: Disrupting the Narrative

Gen Z multitasks across screens, seamlessly switching from YouTube tutorials to Twitch streams to in-depth Reddit threads to Whatsapp messages. Traditional advertising struggles to capture their attention due to this kind of information overload. Apart from interactive or gamified ads, user-generated content is a type of information that can drag Gen Z’s attention. Staged commercials with polished superstars and flawless scenes do not have such an effect as before; Gen Z simply has an allergy to them.

Taking into account the tendencies of the modern world, nobody’s going to be surprised by the fact that Gen Z is more affected by social media than anything else. According to the CMO Council Report, 54% of Gen Z says social media influences them more than any other marketing channel. Moreover, 85% of Gen Z learn about new products through social media, and 52% of Gen Z trust social media influencers for product or brand advice.

Thus, social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram aren’t just entertainment hubs anymore; they’re mirrors reflecting Gen Z values and concerns. They actively participate in online communities and hold brands accountable. Their voices are amplified, their opinions matter, and they expect brands to listen and engage in genuine dialogue.

Rise of the UGC Creators – Gen Z’s Content Revolution

Based on insights from thousands of consumers around the world, the report, ‘Ad blockers and advocacy: Why Gen Z is blocking paid ads in favor of real voices’, finds that 99% of Gen Z consumers will hit ‘skip’ on an ad if it’s an option and that nearly two-thirds (63%) use ad blockers to avoid online adverts. On the other hand, the research shows that 84% of Gen Z consumers have lost faith in influencers, because it doesn’t provide them with the required level of authenticity. This is where UGC (User-Generated Content) takes the central place and the prevailing importance for Gen Z customers.

More Than Likes and Shares

Gen Z doesn’t just passively consume content; they actively participate in shaping it. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube have empowered them to become creators themselves, sharing their experiences, opinions, and reviews – and their influence on purchase decisions is undeniable. A study by Stackla found that 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, compared to just 49% for traditional advertising.

Why the shift? Traditional ads often feel disingenuous, pushing a pre-packaged message that resonates poorly with Gen Z’s authenticity radar. On the other hand, UGC feels real, like a friend recommending a product they genuinely love. Reviews, tutorials, and unboxings – they offer an unfiltered glimpse into how a product performs in real life, building trust and credibility that traditional marketing struggles to match.

From Consumers to Creators

Gen Z expects brands to engage in a two-way dialogue, and UGC provides the perfect platform for that. Brands are increasingly partnering with micro-influencers and everyday creators to co-create content, providing them with an opportunity for consumers’ unique perspectives and authentic voices to reach their target audience in a more relatable way.

Imagine a beauty brand collaborating with a group of makeup enthusiasts on TikTok, each showcasing their favorite hacks and tricks using the brand’s products. Or a travel company partnering with micro-influencers from diverse backgrounds to document their authentic travel experiences using branded hashtags. 

Micro-influencers vs. Mega-stars

Gen Z’s main difference from other consumers is that they connect more with individuals they perceive as “one of them,” not distant, rather than unattainable stars. Micro-influencers, with their smaller, more engaged communities, often hold more sway than their mega-influencer counterparts. 

In a study by the Real Eyes video testing platform, UGC videos on TikTok had a 22% higher score than brand videos. These UGC videos were able to capture and hold viewers’ attention for the longest time compared to TikTok brand videos and Facebook video ads. Additionally, UGC videos were found to have a much bigger emotional impact than brand videos. TikTok UGC videos could encode emotion 22% better than brand videos. Plus, their encoding score was 4.7x higher than Facebook ads and 10x higher than conventional ads.

Moreover, there is a huge difference between paid posts of Mega-stars and Micro-influencers’ UGC content.

Image Source

Accounts with fewer followers consistently have higher engagement rates than accounts with large amounts of followers. The typical celebrity or mega-influencer has millions of followers, and there is no way that they can stay 100% focused on their social media profiles and their community, which results in lower engagement and conversion rates.

But what place does Gen Z take in all this? UGC marketing itself means that the content is generated by real users, and this is where Gen Z users are the most powerful. They can turn any brand or product into a globally-spreading trend or can cancel anyone or anything just by posting what they really think. How many products have you bought just because you saw a video on TikTok praising it? Or how many times have you decided not to purchase something just because you saw a negative review in Instagram Reels? This is the power of Gen Z and UGCs.

Collaborations and Co-creation in the Gen Z Era

Remember the days of brands simply throwing money at celebrity influencers for a single sponsored post? Those days are fading faster than a TikTok trend. Influencer marketing in the age of Gen Z is about building authentic partnerships and empowering creators to tell their own stories using a brand as a canvas. Brands now are more and more inclined to partner with creators to develop campaigns that feel organic and authentic. Finally, real consumers took the lead of the narrative and made brands listen to them and follow their lead. 

Bonus: Lessons from the Leaders

Understanding Gen Z is one thing; translating that knowledge into actionable strategies is another. To help you navigate the exciting yet sometimes bewildering world of Gen Z marketing, we present a double dose of inspiration: successful case studies and practical tips for crafting campaigns that resonate.


IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, is known for utilizing the latest trends and technologies in order to promote its brand and products. UGC is also one of the. In a recent case study, IKEA partnered with Social Native to collect and use UGC that customers shared on social media. The campaign, called “IKEA At Mine,” encouraged customers to share photos of their homes featuring IKEA products.


The results of the campaign were impressive. IKEA saw a 27% increase in reach, a 2.7x increase in engagement with UGC on the homepage, and a 3.54x increase in conversion rate for users interacting with UGC.

So, how did IKEA achieve such success with UGC? 

Partner with influencers: IKEA partnered with micro-influencers in specific local markets. These influencers were able to reach a targeted audience of potential customers.

Feature UGC on website and social media: IKEA featured user-generated content on its website and social media platforms. This helped to create a more authentic and engaging brand experience.

Make it easy for customers to share UGC: IKEA made it easy for customers to share UGC by using a branded hashtag and providing clear instructions.


Chipotle, known for its popularity among millennials and Gen Z, launched the #ChipotleLidFlip TikTok challenge in collaboration with popular content creator David Dobrik. The challenge prompted users to film themselves skillfully flipping a burrito bowl while incorporating their unique style and flair.


Even though the examples above represent planned marketing strategies of brands and can be perceived as not authentic, they allow a wider audience to be acquainted with a brand and its products.

Too Faced

The effect of a community should not be underestimated as there are a lot of videos and posts with reviews not initiated or not sponsored by brands. While brands can initiate a trend or a hashtag, people make it trending and spreading across accounts.

Too Faced decided to use the power of TikTok ads in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product ‘Lip Injection Extreme’ lip gloss. 


Once releasing the ads, the community of TikTok users and influencers took it from there. They posted videos demonstrating its lip-changing effect, thus organically pushing the product, and, as a result, it went viral and attracted the attention of millions of people worldwide.


Business Intelligence Specialist

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