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Study reveals the impact of Influencers on buying behaviors of Thai Millennials and Gen Z

          Anyone who knows young people understands that the boundaries between online and offline lives are increasingly blurred, but Millennials and Generation Z take social media influencers even more seriously than expected, according to the recent Influencer Impact Study commissioned by Vero, an ASEAN-focused marketing services agency with offices in Bangkok. These young fans put a lot of energy into seeking out influencers who can guide their purchases, and they place a level of trust in the opinions of those influencers that other forms of paid advertising can't begin to compete with.
          According to the study, Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z for short) display a preference for receiving marketing messages via influencers over all forms of advertising, including TV, radio, print and online.
          Other key findings include that those who follow social media influencers trust them more than any other group outside of their friends and family, that over 80 percent of both generations check in on influencers several times a week (and expect to see updates that often), that 59 percent of Millennials have made purchases based directly on influencer recommendations, and that 75 percent of fans like to see influencers promoting products, believing influencer endorsements to be sincere even if they are paid to give them.
          "This study's results show that Millennials and Generation Z have grown up with influencers and are unlikely to grow out of them," said Vero CEO Brian Griffin. "The rise of influencers is not a hyped-up trend, but rather a dramatic change in how effective marketing will be done for the foreseeable future."
          The Power of Influence
          The Influencer Impact study was conducted earlier this year, and its results were compiled into a whitepaper which is available for free download at The power of influencer marketing. The study involved in-person interviews in Bangkok with participants belonging to Generation Z (ages 16-23) and Millennial (ages 24-35) demographics.
          For the sake of the study, an influencer is defined as a blogger or other online personality with enough of a social media following to make a cultural and economic impact. Influencers come in many forms, from beauty and fashion bloggers who create tutorials and style guides, to travel and food enthusiasts who excite fans' lust for new adventures and strong flavors, to entertainment reviewers who share their takes on the latest video games, music, and movies. Some are celebrities with higher-than-average social media presence, but most (over 60 percent of those reported in the study) are regular people with personalities and perspectives that audiences find both appealing and relatable.
          Mr. Tanawat Nutsatit is a Strategic Creative Manager at Vero, and also an influencer. He operates a popular blog called Sneaker on Sight in which he creates lifestyle content about athletic footwear and running. He works with brands such as but not limited to Adidas, Nike, Booking.com and Dell. The success of his blog is based on human interaction.
          "I always treat my followers like friends," said Mr. Tanawat. "I am honest with them and try to help them and offer advice. The key to influencer marketing is the relationship between the content creator and followers. With traditional advertisements on TV or in print, there is no dialog and no relationship. But influencers really get to know people – the relationships are genuine and the interaction is mostly online but also sometimes offline. It's a very effective platform for brands to communicate with people."
          Sincerity is the key to the success, says Ms. Ploychompoo Nitipaisalkul, a Digital Account Executive at Vero who works with influencers on behalf of brands. Ms. Ploychompoo is also a notable influencer with a dedicated following on Instagram. And she is adding to her ability to communicate with followers with the launch of a YouTube channel dedicated to healthy lifestyles for women. The channel, www.youtube.com/yingpcp, will include content on fitness, food, fashion and a modern point of view on what's important in the lives of millennial women today. For the channel, a sincere and honest point of view is key.
          "As an influencer and a person with a point of view, I am creating a YouTube channel that will help people to be healthy in the right way. Too many people starve themselves or take pills or do dangerous fasts just because they believe that there is a quick fix. However, what I really want to do is promote the fact that women don't have to look a certain way just a limiting society will deem them beautiful. There is beauty in every individual and having "flaws" is normal. My point is, it is more important to live a healthy lifestyle than to focus on one's outward appearance. We need to understand our bodies and start loving ourselves the way we are. Once we truly understand and love our bodies, our outward appearance will improve as a result; but again, it should not be the focus. The more I learn how powerful an impact of influencers can have on their viewer's and follower's lives, the more I feel that these honest points of view that I share, can help people create a new voice for health and wellness for women in Thailand," says Ms. Ploychompoo.
          This sense of relatability and authenticity is key, according to the study. Unlike traditional ads or celebrity spokespersons, social media influencers invite response: they frequently interact with their followers and engage them in genuine conversation. They are people with knowledge to share whom fans view as not so different from themselves, seeing them as peers, mentors, even friends.
          Fans tend to believe that influencers receive compensation in the form of payment or products in exchange for endorsements, but – vitally – they do not tend to see this as a problem. In fact, the Vero study finds that not only do fans trust that influencer endorsements are genuine regardless of whether they have been paid, but 80 percent of Millennials and 68 percent of Gen Z say that they like when influencers promote branded products.
          They do, however, have strong preferences for how they like to see influencers interact with the products. Videos are heavily favored over photos alone by 83 percent of respondents, and people typically want a thorough, detailed review. This thoroughness is how credibility is built; before offering their trust, people want to see someone using a product and showing off its features.
Millennials and Gen Z: Demographics in Transition
          The study's comprehensive overview of the preferences of Thai youth also delves into areas where generations diverge.
          Millennials grew up alongside the burgeoning internet, playing a definitive role in the formation of internet culture, as well as most of the social media platforms upon which today's influencers depend. By contrast, the oldest members of Generation Z were just a year old when Thailand gained internet access in 1996 and came of age in a world of wireless broadband and 3G (in urban areas) and ubiquitous touchscreens; likely many of their first mobile phones were smartphones.
          The Vero Influencer Impact Study does not show stark differences between the two generations, but rather a gradual change in preferences that can be explained by the digital nativity of younger audiences. These include increased comfort with influencers promoting products, higher odds that Gen Z will buy products, and the shift from Millennials' priority on trustworthiness to Gen Z's desire for entertainment above all.

          About Vero
          Vero is an ASEAN region public relations and digital marketing agency. Vero won the 2017 Southeast Asia Agency of the year award from The Holmes Report. Vero owns offices in Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam and ranks among the leading agency networks in Southeast Asia. It is independent, employee-owned and managed. For more information, please visit www.veropr.com.