💰 Social Media: A Gold Mine for Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z 💰
More than 4 in 5 Americans ages 18 to 41 (81%) have bought a product or service because they saw an ad for it on social media platforms such as TikTok or Instagram.
Success of Social Media Ads | Catching Attention With Video | Popular Social Media Platforms | Facebook Privacy Concerns | The Power of Influencers | The Importance of Product Reviews | Browsing and Brand Loyalty | America’s Most and Least Popular Brands | Super Bowl Ads
TikTok stars, YouTube streamers, and Instagram influencers aren’t just entertainers — they’re extremely effective vehicles for advertising, driving millions of millennials and Gen Zers toward impulse purchases.
In fact, nearly 3 in 5 Gen Z Americans (58%) have bought a product recommended by an online influencer — 4x the share of baby boomers who have done the same (13%), according to a new Real Estate Witch survey of 1,000 American adults’ shopping habits and attitudes toward marketing.
The survey captured responses from the following American generations:
- Baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964)
- Gen X (born 1965 to 1980)
- Millennials (born 1981 to 1996)
- Gen Z (born 1997 and later)
The survey results highlight compelling Gen Z and millennial consumer trends. For example, the data shows video ads perform extremely well with Gen Z and millennials on social media. And, despite a lot of headlines, TikTok is not actually Gen Z’s most-used social media platform.
Continue reading for more surprising findings on millennial and Gen Z marketing from Real Estate Witch.
Gen Z and Millennial Marketing Statistics 👨💻
- 83% of millennials and 79% of Gen Zers have purchased a product or service because of an advertisement on social media, compared with just 48% of baby boomers. Jump to section 👇
- Millennials are most likely to buy after seeing ads on Facebook (53%), while Gen Zers are most likely to buy because of ads on Instagram (43%).
- Gen Z Americans are 3x more likely than baby boomers to interact with social media ads that use video (52% vs. 18%). 👇
- 64% of Gen Z visits YouTube at least once per day — more than TikTok or any other social media platform. 👇
- 58% of Gen Zers and 52% of millennials have bought a product recommended by an online influencer. 👇
- Baby boomers (19%) are 3x more likely than millennials (7%) and Gen Zers (6%) to say they don’t look at reviews when shopping.
- Asked to rank types of reviews, Gen Z listed reviews from social media comments as most valuable, while millennials prioritize reviews from third-party sites such as Google. 👇
- Just 8% of Americans have a negative opinion of Google — and only 38% have a positive opinion of Twitter. 👇
- 54% of Americans don’t approve of the way Elon Musk has handled taking over Twitter, and 32% believe the platform will shut down within a year.
- 7 in 10 Americans (69%) look forward to Super Bowl commercials, and 33% of millennials who watch the game do so specifically for the commercials. 👇
5 in 6 Millennials Have Made a Purchase Because of a Social Media Ad
As younger Americans spend time on social media, they’re also spending money on the advertisements they see.
Despite the fact that 3 in 5 Americans (61%) find ads annoying, about 83% of millennials and 79% of Gen Zers say they’ve bought products or services because they saw them advertised on social media, compared to just 48% of baby boomers.
Millennials are 66% more likely than Gen Z to make a purchase because of a Facebook ad. And Gen Zers are 17% more likely than millennials to buy something because of an ad on TikTok.
Additionally, 58% of millennials and 59% of Gen Zers say they’ve made an unplanned/impulse purchase after seeing a social media ad, compared to just 35% of baby boomers.
Younger Americans Prefer Social Media, but Baby Boomers Still Favor TV Advertising
Entertainment streaming options have diminished the influence of traditional TV over recent years, with just 53% of Americans saying they have a cable subscription.
Although Americans as a whole claim TV ads are the most influential — ranking them ahead of social media ads, newspaper/magazine ads, and other types of ads — our data shows social media advertising has actually influenced more people to make a purchase, not TV.
Baby boomers are the only generation we examined that remains most likely to buy a product or service because of TV advertising, with 36% saying they’ve made a purchase due to a TV ad in the past year.
Just 19% of baby boomers say a social media ad influenced them to make a purchase in the last year, compared to 63% of Gen Z and 57% of millennials.
For those tired of traditional TV, streaming services that pitch ad-free content remain fairly popular: Nearly half of Americans (49%) say they would pay extra for a premium service without ads, including 59% of millennials.
Gen Zers Say They’re Bad With Money — and Susceptible to Social Media Ads
Gen Zers aren’t afraid to admit they have a pattern of frequent social media use and spending.
When asked which generation is most susceptible to social media ads, 71% of Gen Z respondents picked their own generation. Additionally, 2 in 3 Gen Z respondents (66%) say their own generation is the most irresponsible with money — more than the 52% of Americans overall who identified Gen Z as the least financially savvy.
Gen Zers aren’t particularly thrilled with their habit of spending time and money on social media. That may be why a majority of Gen Z (51%) says social media has not been good for society, compared to 40% of millennials and 41% of baby boomers.
Gen Z, Millennials Are Nearly 3 Times More Likely Than Baby Boomers to Engage With Online Video Ads
For businesses trying to improve their millennial and Gen Z advertising, incorporating video elements is a very effective tactic.
Within the last year, 52% of Gen Zers have engaged with social media video ads, nearly 3x the share of baby boomers (18%). Gen Z (42%) and millennials (40%) are about twice as likely as baby boomers (20%) to say they’ve interacted with non-social media online video ads in the last year.
Baby boomers (39%) are about 3x more likely than Gen Z (12%) and 5x more likely than millennials (8%) to say they haven’t interacted with any type of online ad in the past year.
Funny Ads Remain Americans’ Top Choice
For ads, being humorous and being memorable go together like Jake from State Farm and wearing khakis.
It’s no surprise that Americans say funny ads resonate with them the most. Informative ads are the next most likely to resonate with consumers — matching the findings from a 2019 edition of our study.
Americans say they connect most with ads that are:
- Funny (33%)
- Informative (30%)
- Inspiring (20%)
- Shocking/surprising (6%)
- Tear-jerking (6%)
- Fear-inducing (5%)
A breakdown of the data shows shocking ads are 125% more likely to resonate with Gen Z than with boomers, while millennials are 133% more likely to connect with a tear-jerking ad than baby boomers.
Despite the popularity of funny ads, a message with a serious tone can work, too. Nearly 2 in 3 Americans (64%) say they are more likely to buy a product if the company supports a cause they believe in.
YouTube, Not TikTok, Is Gen Z’s Go-To Social Media Platform
It’s clear that advertisers not incorporating video into their marketing are missing out. In addition to younger generations interacting more with video ads, the data shows more Gen Zers visit YouTube on a daily basis than any other social media platform. Two other video-friendly platforms, TikTok and Instagram, are tied for second.
Nearly 2 in 3 Gen Zers (64%) visit YouTube at least once daily, while millennials’ social media usage reveals a slight preference for Facebook over YouTube (70% vs. 68%).
Which Social Media Platforms Are Americans Visiting Daily?
|Social Media Platform||All Americans - Daily Use||Gen Z - Daily Use||Millennials - Daily Use||Baby Boomers - Daily Use|
Conversely, about 11% of Americans say they have used Twitter in the past but have stopped, the most of any social media site. Just 3% of Americans say the same for YouTube, the least of any site.
Americans Trust YouTube More Than Other Platforms
In addition to being one of the most popular platforms, Americans of all generations rank YouTube as the most trustworthy social media site.
|Trustworthiness - Overall Rank||Social Media Platform||Trustworthiness - Average Respondent Rank|
Millennials and baby boomers each rank YouTube No. 1, followed by Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Gen Z ranks YouTube as most trustworthy, followed by Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
53% of Americans Are Concerned About Facebook’s Handling of Users’ Personal Data
Years of headlines about Facebook privacy and personal data issues have taken a toll on the site’s public perception. More than half of Americans (53%) are concerned with how Facebook uses peoples’ data.
About 45% of Americans have concerns about how TikTok uses peoples’ data, including 47% of Gen Z and 48% of millennials. Yet despite being owned by Facebook (now Meta), only about 38% of Americans are concerned with how Instagram uses data.
Overall, 88% of Americans say they’re concerned with maintaining their privacy on social media. However, Gen Z is about 50% more likely than millennials to say they don’t care about maintaining privacy on social media (15% vs. 10%).
Americans overall say they are:
- Very concerned about maintaining privacy on social media (44%)
- Somewhat concerned about maintaining privacy on social media (44%)
- Not concerned about maintaining privacy on social media (12%)
Similarly, about 2 in 3 Americans (65%) say they find it creepy or annoying when certain ads follow them from site to site. These are often referred to as remarketing or behavioral retargeting ads.
Younger generations, however, may be more desensitized to the phenomenon. That would explain why these ads bother just 64% of millennials and 65% of Gen Z, compared to 73% of boomers.
More Than Half of Millennials and Gen Zers Have Bought Products Recommended by Influencers
Anyone studying millennial or Gen Z marketing trends would be smart to recognize the power of influencers.
About 58% of Gen Zers and 52% of millennials say they have bought products or services recommended by an online influencer. Just 13% of baby boomers say the same.
Additionally, when asked which types of product reviews they find most important, 13% of Gen Z respondents said reviews by influencers — the highest share of any generation.
Nearly 1 in 5 Gen Zers (19%) say they would submit their information online to an unfamiliar brand if an influencer recommended they do so, compared to 13% of Americans overall.
Unlike some types of advertisements, an influencer recommending a product in a video isn’t going to get stopped by an ad blocker, which young Americans are more likely to use.
Americans may also see influencers as more authentic than traditional advertisers. They’re more likely to use profanity, which younger generations have less of a problem with.
The share of each generation bothered by profanity in advertising is:
- Baby boomers (58%)
- Millennials (37%)
- Gen Z (32%)
Influencers are also more likely to give a beyond-surface-level review of a product, rather than hit their viewers with a fast, hard sell.
Product Reviews Carry Added Weight for Younger Generations
The data shows Gen Zers and millennials are likely to be receptive to marketing efforts that highlight positive reviews.
About 94% of Gen Zers and 93% of millennials say they’re likely to look up reviews for a product before ordering it online. Among baby boomers, that number drops to 81%.
Millennials rank the types of reviews that influence them the most as:
|Overall Rank||Type of Review||Average Respondent Rank|
|1||Reviews posted on Google/Yelp/other third-party sites||2.71|
|2||Reviews posted on the company's website||3.35|
|3||Comments/reviews on social media||3.54|
|4||YouTube review videos||3.56|
|6||Reviews from influencers||3.93|
Meanwhile, Gen Z puts more stock in social media comments reviewing a product.
|Overall Rank||Type of Review||Average Respondent Rank|
|1||Comments/reviews on social media||3.23|
|2||YouTube review videos||3.29|
|3||Reviews posted on the company's website||3.33|
|4||Reviews posted on Google/Yelp/other third-party sites||3.43|
|5||Reviews from influencers||3.73|
Supporting the case that younger generations care more about reviews, nearly 3 in 4 millennials (73%) say they’ve posted a review online at some point, along with 58% of Gen Zers and 50% of baby boomers.
Additionally, 1 in 3 Americans (34%) say they’d be willing to submit their information online to a brand they’re unfamiliar with if the company had good reviews.
91% of Americans Shop Around for the Best Deal Online — but Most Still Value Brand Loyalty
Over recent years, online shopping has become a dominant part of the economy, as 76% of Americans say they’ve ordered an item online in the past month.
Most of the time, online shoppers make an effort to hunt for the best deal they can find on a product, with 91% of Americans saying they’re likely to shop around.
But finding a product with a better price doesn’t necessarily mean the shopper will actually commit to buying it. Americans are fiercely loyal to brands they trust, and a better price isn’t always enough to be persuasive.
For high-end products such as electronics, consumers are especially loyal — 71% of Americans say they’d buy from an electronics brand they know and trust over a different one with a better price. There’s less loyalty for clothing, which 47% of Americans would be willing to purchase from an unfamiliar company for a better price.
Americans Have a High Opinion of Google — Unlike Twitter
Advertisers selling to millennials might benefit by mirroring some of the most popular brands in America.
Among 20 of the most valuable companies, Google has done the best job branding to millennials and Americans overall. About 81% of millennials and 78% of Americans have a positive opinion of the search engine giant and owner of YouTube. Just 8% of Americans have a negative opinion.
Meanwhile, 26% of Americans have a negative opinion of Twitter — the most of any company we asked about.
The finding is likely related to entrepreneur Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform and controversial leadership. About 54% of Americans surveyed say they don’t approve of the way Musk has handled taking over Twitter. A whopping 1 in 3 (32%) believe the platform will fold in 2023.
What are the other brands millennials hate? About 20% say they have negative opinions of Facebook, Tesla, and Uber.
Here’s how Americans as a whole view popular companies:
1 in 3 Millennials Watch the Super Bowl for the Commercials
Although younger generations are paying more attention to social media advertising than TV commercials, many still look forward to the Super Bowl of advertising — the Super Bowl.
About 69% of Americans say they enjoy watching Super Bowl commercials, and 68% say the ads are more memorable than typical TV commercials. In fact, 29% of Super Bowl viewers watch the game specifically for the ads.
Millennials are the generation most likely to watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, with 1 in 3 viewers saying they do so (33%).
Although expensive upfront, Super Bowl ads may pay off in the long run. About 41% of Americans say they’re more likely to buy a product advertised during the Super Bowl.
The proprietary data featured in this study comes from an online survey commissioned by Real Estate Witch. One thousand Americans were surveyed Dec. 14, 2022. Each respondent answered up to 21 questions related to advertising, shopping habits, marketing opinions, and related topics.
Are you a member of the media interested in learning more about our research? Feel free to reach out! Contact this article’s author here.
About Real Estate Witch
You shouldn’t need a crystal ball or magical powers to understand real estate. Since 2016, Real Estate Witch has demystified real estate through in-depth guides, honest company reviews, and data-driven research. In 2020, Real Estate Witch was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $82 million on realtor fees. Real Estate Witch’s research has been featured in CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise, and more.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Marketing to Millennials
What are the best brands for millennials?
About 81% of millennials have a positive opinion of Google, followed by 77% with a positive opinion of Amazon. Learn more.
What brands do millennials hate?
About 24% of millennials have a negative opinion of Twitter, followed by Uber (20%), Tesla (20%), and Facebook (20%). Learn more.
What social media platform has the highest millennial usage?
Facebook remains the most popular social media platform for millennials as of early 2023, with 70% of millennials visiting the site at least once a day. Learn more.
Is it spelled millennial or millenial?
There are two Ns in the correct spelling of the word millennial — although the word is often misspelled as millenial. You can remember this because there are two front seats in the Millennium Falcon.
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