Gen Z Influencer Marketing

Building Authentic Relationships: The Key to Marketing to Gen Z

As Gen Z ages up, their impact on the economy and society continues to increase. As of 2023, their spending power in the US alone was estimated to be over $360 billion, more than double what it was in 2019. As this trend seems likely to continue, understanding Gen Z consumer behavior is more important than ever.

However, despite thriving financially, marketing to Gen Z can be difficult. They are considered thrifty consumers who save on average a third of their income. But of course, there are ways to reach this younger generation. But as CMOs everywhere are discovering, new tools and strategies are needed to embrace the ever-eclectic Generation Z.

Influencer marketing matters

Gen Z is the most digitally savvy generation, spending an average of 4 hours daily on social media apps. So, it makes sense that its members trust recommendations from people they know, or people who seem like peers. That’s why utilizing influencers is important when marketing to Gen Z. Influencer marketing is the practice of having individuals on social media advocate for a brand or product in posts aimed at their peers.

Influencer and peer marketing is key to understanding Gen Z marketing trends. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Z follow influencers on social media, and half of them report trusting the recommendations of the influencers they follow. In fact, influencers and content creators are 3.5 times more influential on Gen Z than traditional social media marketing methods.

Visual and interactive content reign supreme

With all the time that Gen Zers spend on social media, they are accustomed to consuming visual and interactive content like polls, challenges, and User Generated Content (UGC) campaigns such as Apple’s “Shot on iPhone.” Gen Z also uses more channels of communication than any other generation, so reaching them means using as many of them as possible.

The rise of interactive marketing and its success with Gen Z tells us the younger generations expect more from their marketing than a sales pitch pasted over an image. No doubt, this makes more work for marketers. But the upside is that the deeper interaction that Gen Z expects can actually strengthen loyalty and attachment to your brand.

Trust and authenticity are key

More than anything else, Gen Z favors authentic messages delivered by sources they trust. This is partially why influencer marketing is so successful with Gen Z, and why traditional marketing methods are having less of an impact.

It’s probably also why global ad spending is set to double over 2024. Gen Z has likely consumed the most marketing messages per day of any generation yet to date. These people are inundated with ads on social media, websites, TV, and of course, in the real world. This level of intense content consumption has led many members of their generation to develop what Gen Z authority advocate Cheyenne Hunt refers to as an “internal filter to disregard promotional materials that feel gimmicky, polished, or inauthentic.”

This generational skepticism renders many of the popular forms of marketing ineffective against one of the most important segments of the population. To truly reach Gen Z, you must communicate with them honestly and authentically, and likely through a medium or spokesperson they are familiar with or can relate to.

Social issues remain important

A recent study found that roughly half of Gen Z workers would be likely to quit a job if they perceived a lack of equity in the workplace. Gen Zers see diversity as essential for a healthy growing business and are looking for employers and brands that reflect their social politics.

This actually points to a way in which these Gen Z marketing approaches can offer benefits across multiple demographics. Across generations and political lines, it was found that 87% of consumers in the US are more likely to purchase a product if the company behind it advocated for an issue they care about.

The truth about Gen Z

The fact is, Gen Z is looking for more authentic, more interactive, and more socially diverse brands than any generation before them has. And while marketing to Gen Z is more involved than marketing to other generations, brands that do it right will be rewarded by loyal followers with ample amounts of disposable income who genuinely enjoy interacting with the products and are likely to spread the word with their numerous peers.

highest-ranked commercials, integrated marketing campaigns

Lessons Learned from Super Bowl LVIII

The Most Watched Broadcast in History

With Super Bowl LVIII breaking records as the most-watched program in US history, drawing an average of 123.7 million viewers, it's evident that this event holds a unique position in American culture. As one of the few events that Americans across all demographics experience, the big game presents an unparalleled opportunity for companies to reach a vast and diverse audience. While the Super Bowl is known for having the best commercials of the year, the increasing popularity of the event has led many companies to play it safe. However, each commercial was ranked by a USA Today poll that received tens of thousands of responses, and a few ads rose to the top as being truly stand out, while others were designed to be among the worst of the evening.

We analyzed the highest and lowest rated commercials of the event, and have several key insights to share.

Evaluating the Ads: The Best and the Worst

Top Picks:

  1. "Like a Good Neighbaaa," State Farm
  2. "The DunKings," Dunkin'
  3. "Perfect 10 | The Kia EV9," Kia

Each of the highest-ranking commercials had the confidence to put their brands second. The State Farm commercial wasn’t selling you on any insurance plan or new deal, it was entirely about Arnold and his accent. Similarly, “The DunKings” was about Ben Affleck auditioning for Jennifer Lopez’s music video, and Kia’s told the story of a young ice-skater.

The two highest-ranked commercials also masterfully utilized celebrity endorsements to engage viewers. By integrating humor and leveraging the public personas of figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ben Affleck, these ads left a lasting impression. Notably, the Kia ad stood out by delivering a heartfelt narrative that resonated with audiences, demonstrating the effectiveness of emotional storytelling. Notably, other commercials that pulled on the audience's heartstrings, such as the NFL “Born to Play” ad and Google’s “Javier in Frame” spot were all in the top 20% highest-rated commercials.

Bottom Picks:

  1. "American Values," Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Campaign
  2. "Less Social Media. More Snapchat," Snapchat
  3. "Make Your Moves Count," TurboTax

In contrast, the lowest-ranked commercials faltered in several areas. Lack of recognizable celebrity presence, overly strong calls to action, and a focus on the product rather than storytelling contributed to their lackluster performance. Additionally, some ads, like Snapchat's, missed the mark by adopting a negative tone and failing to authentically connect with their target audience.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

Subtlety Sells: Viewers prefer ads that treat brands as accessories rather than focal points. By integrating brands organically into compelling narratives, advertisers can capture attention without coming across as overly promotional.

Authenticity Matters: Authenticity remains key in delivering branded messages. By staying true to their brand identities (and the celebrities endorsing them), advertisers can establish genuine connections with consumers.

The Power of Storytelling: Successful commercials tell stories that resonate with audiences on a personal level. By prioritizing storytelling over product promotion, brands can create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact.

Integrated Marketing Triumphs

The real winners of the evening, by our estimation, were the celebrities who successfully executed integrated marketing campaigns. The most high-profile and successful of these came from Beyonce, who not only slayed in the hilarious commercial for Verizon Wireless but also cheekily directed fans to her website with the line “Drop the new music.” And sure enough, she had released a new single that same day which quickly amassed over 4.5 million views. Jennifer Lopez employed a similar tactic. In the Dunkin’ commercial, she was seen working on a new album - an album that was released just five days after the Super Bowl. These artists were able to capitalize on their features in high-profile commercials to draw attention to their own products. They were, essentially, paid to advertise themselves, and that sounds like a winning situation to me.

Digital marketing

Get the Most out of your Digital Ad Dollars with These Pro Tips

Digital marketing continues to be one of the essential tools for gathering sales leads and building brand awareness. At Relish Marketing, we create digital campaigns for our clients that consistently perform above industry standards – thanks to partnerships we have with a variety of excellent digital media professionals.

Nancy Gunter of Mirj Media has placed digital ads for many of our most successful digital campaigns, and provides strategic guidance. I sat down with her to discuss the leading digital ad strategies of the day and how companies can get the most out of their digital ad budgets.

Question: What digital platforms have you found to be the most effective, and why?

Nancy: I have found that integrated digital ad strategies prove to be the most effective approach. It allows us to engage with your target audience across various touchpoints while maintaining a consistent brand message. The choice of the most effective platform depends on your specific audience and campaign goals.

For instance, email campaigns are invaluable for staying top-of-mind with your existing audience, while social media marketing is great at generating interest and can be used effectively to generate leads and drive traffic to your website, particularly in the awareness and consideration phases of a digital campaign. Paid search advertising is particularly beneficial in the consideration and conversion phases, capturing potential customers who actively searching for a specific product or service. Finally, organic social media posts on digital platforms are essential for building long-term brand authority by engaging with your followers and reaching wider audiences.

Question: Are there emerging platforms or trends worth exploring for digital advertising?

Nancy: There are several, but for now I’ll highlight AI. The usage of AI is predicted to rise significantly in 2024. This could impact consumer’s level of trust in digital marketing. Brands will need to focus more on authenticity and customer’s full experience.

Question: How does the target audience affect your choice of tools, strategies, and platforms?

Nancy: Knowing your target audience helps you choose the right platform and reduce waste on platforms where your audience doesn’t engage. Reaching your audience where they are with messages they care about, you're more likely to outperform competitors who spread their efforts too thin or overlook what the audience is really interested in.

Question: What types of digital ad creative or content have resonated the most with audiences?

Nancy: The choice between video, banner, and search ads depends on the specific campaign goals – for example, building brand awareness versus driving immediate conversions.

Video ads typically generate higher engagement than image ads. According to HubSpot, video ads have a 56% higher click-through rate . Google search ads reach audiences who are actively looking for a particular product or service and therefore deliver a higher conversion rate than display ads. However, display ads, which include banner ads on websites and social media, offer a broader reach but tend to have a lower conversion rate.

Question: How should one determine the budget allocation across different digital platforms?

Nancy: Begin by clearly defining your goals and objectives, such as who you want to reach within a specific timeframe. Before deciding on select channels, review previous campaign performance to understand which strategies delivered the best results. After running a campaign and collecting enough data, the digital ad strategies can be adjusted as needed to optimize results.

Question: How often do you analyze performance data, and what tools do you use for analytics?

Nancy: We analyze performance data at different intervals to ensure we're capturing the most relevant insights for each aspect of our marketing efforts. For example, we look at data daily for immediate short-term metrics/goals when needed including website traffic, engagement, and conversions related to a specific campaign. Every month, we would look at search engine rankings, website traffic (total users, new users, traffic source, sessions, and popular pages), review Google Ad and social media performance KPIs, and compare month-over-month differences such as impressions, reach, and cost per click, to name a few.

The tools used depend on the campaign. For instance, I would use Google Analytics for comprehensive web analytics, tracking traffic, behavior, and conversions. For social media campaigns, there are platform-specific tools like Facebook Insights and LinkedIn Campaign Manager to track engagement and campaign performance. There are also SEO tools like SEMrush to monitor search rankings, and email marketing platforms like Mailchimp which provide open rates and unsubscribe metrics.

As Nancy says, understanding your target audience is key to selecting the most effective platforms and crafting content that resonates. Video ads, search ads, and display ads each play unique roles in achieving specific campaign goals, and careful budget allocation is important. Are you getting the best possible results from your digital campaigns? If not, reaching out to an agency with a proven track record of generating results might be a profitable next step. We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us anytime – we’re always happy to chat.

Nancy can be reached by calling 770.757.6982, or by emailing

Work-life balance

It's Not Work-Life Balance. It's Work-Life Harmony

Over the past year, Relish Marketing has been getting busy. Old clients are coming to us with new jobs. Companies we’ve never worked with before are reaching out to scope our availability. Business, as they say, is booming.

Our increased workload has inspired a series of conversations between myself and my coworkers on the importance of maintaining our personal lives. It was during one such conversation with Corey-Jan, our head strategist and frequent contributor to this blog, that I was challenged in my use of the phrase "work-life balance."

“Because it really isn’t balance we should be striving for,” said CJ, “but harmony.”

Her point was that "work-life balance" calls to mind a perfectly segmented day divided between personal time, time spent with loved ones, and working time. And, life doesn't work that way. A state of work-life balance cannot accommodate a surge of business requiring an above-average amount of professional attention any more than it can accommodate, say, a family emergency.

So, when I find myself in a situation as I do today, inundated with exciting business opportunities that require substantial effort to see through, I don't seek balance. I seek harmony.

The difference may sound merely linguistic. But in practice, it is profound. Harmony is not rigid and inflexible. It does not require a perfectly segmented day. Harmony is fluid, taking into account that some days are busier than others, as are some months, and even years. Sometimes, when you're busy, the simple answer is to roll up your sleeves and jump in.

This is not to say that our personal lives don't matter. In fact, they are exceedingly important. In the world of advertising, we marketers are responsible for delivering engaging creative that turns heads and gets proverbial – and sometimes literal – butts in seats. Well, that kind of excellence doesn't come from just anywhere. It certainly doesn't come from a space lacking of personal fulfillment.

Passion feeds passion. Time spent with our friends and family not only sparks joy but creativity. The energy we cultivate in our personal lives enables the brilliance we achieve in our professional ones. Likewise, our professional lives should afford us opportunities to invest in our personal lives. And both personally and professionally, when the busy times subside, we know we will make up for any lost moments.

The concept of work-life harmony understands this – and welcomes it. When our personal lives demand our attention, we have the flexibility to be there be it for friends, family, or the refrigerator repair expert. When Relish gets busy, we go to work. Sometimes our days stretch long, and our candles burn low. But we know the best work comes from a place of harmony. We allow ourselves time for passions, for whims, for the people who matter in our lives. Even in our busiest seasons, it fuels us professionally as well as personally.

Creating Culture When Everyone Works from Home

The past year saw many disruptions to how we go about our day-to-day lives. I’ll wager that for anyone reading this, one of the biggest changes was how much less you saw your loved ones, your family, and your co-workers.

I joined Relish in July of 2021, and by that time we had long since switched to working fully remote. As you can imagine, the onboarding process was strange. I was the first new hire Relish brought on since the pandemic, and procedures hadn’t yet been put in place for how our company onboards in a remote context.

While the process no doubt would have been smoother if Relish was still in person, I was surprised how much of the company culture I could feel during my time onboarding. This in turn made me realize how grateful I am to be working at a company that has such a strong culture and can maintain its identity through the splintering of our workforce across metro Atlanta and beyond.

Every company has a culture, and if that culture is not intentionally maintained, it can sour and grow stale. Luckily, Relish does a fantastic job maintaining our culture, and I want to share some of how we do that with you.

We Talk Once a Day, Every Day

Every morning, the Relish team begins the day with a company-wide call. Formally, this is a time for us to catch up on projects and communicate any information across the studio, management, and account services teams. Informally, however, this gives us an opportunity to say hello and fill each other in on our life updates.

It’s not uncommon to hear jokes about what mischief a team member’s kid got into over the weekend or commiserate when someone’s home renovations turn disastrous. Not only does this keep us tightly knit as a team and closely aligned on our goals as a company, but it serves as a team building exercise that brings us together as a group of humans making their way in the world, and that’s what culture is all about.

We Make Time to Meet in Person

While we are working fully remote, we still make the time to gather as a team and enjoy each other’s company. These events, be they lunches or holiday parties, remind us that not only are we co-workers but friends and family as well.

When a team only gathers over work topics, the members will be teammates, nothing more. By adding in these events (which, despite being non-mandatory, we all attend), we get to see each other in a relaxed, social atmosphere, and remember “oh, yeah, this person is also really cool outside of work mode.”

We Understand Each Other’s Strengths

An integral component of any team is how each members’ skills play off of and feed into each other. At Relish, my co-workers have had the pleasure of working with each other for several years (myself, of course, not included). This has given them plenty of time to learn how everyone likes to operate and what they’re good at.

Everyone is allowed to play to their strengths at Relish. In fact, we encourage it. If you’re good at something, we want you to do that as much as possible. And because we have such a strong sense of everyone’s skill set and style, we’re able to work together that much easier.

Companies function best when employees are allowed to be themselves, are encouraged to succeed, and are surrounded by people who understand and support their process. Maintaining this level of company culture can be hard, but by maintaining communication, hosting group events, and understanding each other’s abilities, teams of every size can find themselves moving the rockiest of mountains.