Social media, influencer and creator marketing

5 influencers impacting the lives Of Gen Z

Image of an influencer posing in front of a scenic background
Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
February 17, 2023
Last updated
June 6, 2024

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Influencer marketing is a fantastic way of engaging your Gen Z audiences and communicating with them in a relatable, accessible way. From Anna Archer’s sensational promotion of FS Green’s Mango juice (scooping in 2.4M views on some of their partnered videos) to GK Barry’s dive into the world of Lottie London, influencer marketing is entertaining and engaging.

But who are the influencers that Gen Z are loving right now, and why? And how have brands been working with these social media stars to form killer partnerships?

A recent survey of Pion's Student Beans users revealed Gen Z’s favourite influencers, which included: Molly-Mae Hague, Emma Chamberlain, Bretman Rock, KSI and Anastasia Kingsnorth. So, naturally, we’ve decided to take a look at them and their work, as well as the massive impact that smaller creators are having and sharing how your brand can connect with Gen Z in an authentic, genuine way.

Molly-Mae Hague

1.83M YouTube subscribers, 7.8M Instagram followers, 72.3M TikTok likes

Whatever criticism Molly-Mae faces, her loyal followers stand by this influencer’s side every step of the way. Voted ‘most inspirational influencer’ in our survey, 24-year-old Molly Mae Hague shot to fame during the fifth series of reality TV show Love Island, in which she was runner-up with her partner Tommy Fury. Molly-Mae is somewhat of a business mogul and runs an empire dedicated to fashion, lifestyle, and her baby, Bambi.

As one of the most-followed influencers in the UK and easily the most successful ex-Love Island contestant, Molly-Mae is admired by thousands of young people.

Molly-Mae has had her fair share of criticism in the past, but this doesn’t seem to have much of a negative impact on her future. Her appointment as Creative Director of fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing was met with backlash, and her questionable comments on entrepreneur Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast led to chaos on the internet, but this iconic influencer just bounced right back again. Whether it’s her epic baby showers, her fairytale relationship with Tommy or her ‘girl boss’ attitude, Molly-Mae has a host of loyal Gen Z followers.

Brand collabs

Beauty Works

This famous influencer is known for her bouncy, blonde curls which have Gen Zers across the country trying to emulate the look. Hair care and accessory brand Beauty Works has collaborated with Molly-Mae to release her collection on the site, which includes straighteners, hair extensions and shampoos. Molly-Mae also shares exclusive discounts on her social media pages to help her loyal fans purchase the products and copy her looks.

Emma Chamberlain

12M YouTube subscribers, 15.6M Instagram followers

22-year-old Emma Chamberlain is the embodiment of Gen Z culture, from her language and humour to her references and fashion. Emma started her social media channel whilst suffering from depression in high school, and is now very open about her struggles with mental health – something which Gen Z admires. As well as being a fashion icon to thousands, Emma also made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2021.

Alongside her incredibly successful YouTube channel, Emma has a podcast, Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain, in which she discusses personal topics such as female friendships and her relationship with alcohol. Her USP? She makes listeners and viewers feel like they’re interacting with a close friend, thus creating that trusted influencer-follower relationship that’s so important. 

60% of Gen Z would describe their generation as entrepreneurial, and much like Molly Mae, Emma falls into this category. Emma’s business, Chamberlain Coffee, is her main focus, and when she took a short break from YouTube to focus on her business and mental health she was honest and upfront with her fans, proving to them that she’s relatable and humble and that it’s okay to put wellness over fame.

Brand collabs

PacSun (Spring 2022)

Emma partnered up with fashion brand PacSun for their Spring 2022 range, which centred around ‘looking to the future and the dream of escapism’. Alongside aesthetic photographs of Emma, the campaign featured augmented reality and virtual experiences, including the brand’s first video game, PacSun the Game. 

Commenting on the partnership, Brieane Olson, president of PacSun, said: “[Emma] is such an authentic voice and style icon for our youth community, and we are thrilled to continue our journey together as PacSun steps further into the metaverse.”

Bretman Rock

8.84M YouTube subscribers, 18.9M Instagram followers, 482.7M TikTok likes.

A 25-year-old Filipino social media star who shot to fame on Vine and YouTube, Bretman Rock specialises in make-up and fashion content and is all about being true to yourself. Notably, Bretman has been the face of Nike’s Pride campaign and has worked with designers including Michael Kors and Stella McCartney. Bretman also appeared on the cover of Playboy in 2021 as its first openly gay male.

@bretmanrock L’Oréal lowkey sent me this product months ago to test out and I was gagged…it’s legit so good y’all. #T#TelescopicLiftlorealparisusa #LOrealParisPartner ♬ original sound - bretmanrock

Aside from his witty humour, sassy attitude and infamous quotes, Bretman passionately discusses topics that are incredibly important to Gen Z, including LGBTQ+ issues, racism, the environment and much more. Bretman makes these issues accessible and lighthearded, meaning his audience is wide, varied and loyal.

Brand collabs 

Crocs (2021)

In 2021, Bretman teamed up with Crocs to release his own set of Jibbitz (featuring some of his most iconic catchphrases, of course). We already know that Crocs are regaining popularity amongst this generation, with international superstars such as Justin Bieber fronting campaigns, so the Bretman-Crocs partnership seems like a Gen Zer’s dream come true. 

Interestingly, fans couldn’t just buy these accessories – quantities were limited and the drop was held via a drawing system, making them even more exclusive and desired.

Kylie Jenner

12.2M YouTube subscribers, 398M Instagram followers, 1.3B TikTok likes.

How could we leave out the OG Queen of social media? 

Kylie Jenner is no stranger to the limelight, having been broadcast from a young age on Keeping Up With The Kardashians along with her superstar siblings, Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian. 

At just 26-years-old, Kylie Jenner is running her international empire and shares every moment of her life on her social media channels, from the birth of her children (‘Stormi baby’ was pretty iconic) to her new business ventures.

Whilst her lifestyle is completely unrelatable to the vast majority of Gen Zers, we’d argue that’s why they love her so much – her aesthetic, carefully crafted and unimaginable lifestyle is something that they can look on from afar (whether that be in admiration or distaste), whilst fans also feel a sense of familiarity towards her having watched her grow up online.

Kylie has had several businesses over the years, including Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Skin and Kylie Baby. She even briefly ventured into the world of writing with her sister Kendall Jenner.

Brand collabs 

This influencer owns so many businesses that the world of brand collabs is almost beyond her; aside from taking her brands into stores such as Ulta Beauty, this woman is her own business boss!

Anastasia Kingsnorth

1.34M YouTube subscribers, 1M Instagram followers, 74.5M TikTok likes

23-year-old Manchester-based influencer Anastasia shot to fame when she was 13 on YouTube, and her popularity has continued to grow since then. Anastasia’s relatives make regular appearances in her videos (particularly her younger brother Atticus), and this family-orientated attitude makes her a relatable and friendly figure to her audiences.

Anastasia’s videos mainly focus on beauty, fashion and her personal life, and she also co-hosts a podcast called Friends Without Benefits, as well as having her own clothing line with the hugely popular In The Style (formerly known for styling the Love Island contestants).

Brand collabs

In The Style (2021)

In 2020, Anastasia teamed up with In The Style as a brand ambassador, releasing her own range. The collection features everything from jeans and dresses to co-ords and halter-neck tops.

This was a big move for the influencer, as the brand has previously collaborated with household names including Charlotte Crosby, Stacey Solomon and Billie Faiers.

Honourable Gen Z creator shout outs go to...

We’ve named the big guns, but what about other creators making waves? Check out some of our favourites below… 

An absolute icon who isn’t afraid to spill all, Grace Keeling (GK Barry) is known for her outrageous (and often hungover) content on her podcast, TikTok and brand partnered content. 

Chicken Shop Date Queen Amelia has met a number of famous faces during her YouTube interviews, and has recently made her red carpet debut on behalf of Vogue.  

Presenter, podcaster and TikTok sensation Max is known for his fun and flirty content. 

Madeline channels classic Gen Z energy, and, in much the same style as Amelia Dimoldenberg, interviews celebs with her witty, disinterested and sarcastic style. 

Dylan hit TikTok fame thanks to her ‘X Days of Girlhood’ videos, in which she documented her transition journey. She has since featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and partnered up with Bud Light.

@gkbarry Using Batiste's new Leave-In Dry Conditioner in Blush - perfect for in-between washes to refresh the lengths of my hair 💖 #Batiste #BatisteBesties #FYP #Blush #HairCare AD @Batiste_hair ♬ original sound - Grace

But what about the creators who are really connecting with Gen Z?

But it’s not just international names who are making a difference. The creator landscape is constantly evolving, and creators with smaller audiences and close-knit communities can offer young people the authenticity and engagement that macro influencers cannot. In fact, 46% of Gen Z believe having less than 20,000 followers makes you more trustworthy! 

Make sure you check out our Pion Creators programme to find out how you can run leading multi-channel campaigns, tap into the student network and grow your brand!

Want more stories like this? Download our new guide, ‘Grow Your Ecommerce With Creator Marketing’ guide to discover the tips and tools you need to success with Gen Z.

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