People from Generation Y, globally known as Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are followed by Gen Z (1995 onwards), and together these two groups make up the majority of Vietnam’s young population and an even larger majority of consumers and trendsetters. They are the primary target audience of most modern marketing campaigns. Gen Z are the center of attention now and will define the course of internet culture (which is rapidly becoming mainstream culture). Gen Y grew up with an internet where brands and publishers fought for the eyes and clicks of communities and followers, while Gen Z grew up with an internet where direct branded communication has given way to lifestyle branding via cultural intermediaries.
These are the modern influencers: self-made publishers who leverage the audience - generating capabilities of social media channels to generate revenue by trading their influence for product endorsements. Independently branded and content-flexible, yet beholden to the social channels they rely on, influencers require novel strategies which have become a key element of modern global marketing.
Influencer Marketing in the Communications ecosystem towards Vietnamese young generations
Influencers in Vietnam like ads but better. They work differently across communication channels, typically television and social networks. TV trends to build brand personalities, while the online world tends to create publishers who shine through their content before their own personality (even if their personality often helps feed their content). About the awareness carried by communication channels, equal numbers of respondents mentioned influencers and TV ads (43 percent each) as their main sources of brand and product information. That said, influencers and TV ads still carry less awareness potential than “close friends” (79 percent), “close family members” (64 percent), and “Facebook and Instagram ads” (53 percent). Influencers are followed across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube… This proactive approach to influencer content also shows how they feel about influencers promoting products: they like it and are more likely to trust a product or brand after seeing an influencer post about it.
Influencers are seen as sources of information, relatable individuals with genuine and relevant stories to share, which is likely why people actively seek out influencer content rather than passively take them in, as we are used to with ads. When asked what type of content they expect from influencers, respondents told us that they prioritized quality (the content looks professional and entertaining), education (the content teaches them something), and values (the content promotes Vietnamese culture). Influencers rated highest rank “trust ratings” in different communication channels.
All in all, influencers occupy a unique space in Vietnam’s media ecosystem: they share a number of characteristics with traditional ads, but they are also considered distinct from advertising, which grants them a lot of power among market segments that will only become more vital in the years to come.
The shift in trust
Gen Z loves influencers. They follow more topics than Gen Y and display higher interest rates for most types of influencer content. Close to 20 percent of them follow more than 4 influencers on a regular basis, which is three times more than those in Gen Y. They consume a lot more influencer content as well. Gen Z tends to prioritise content over fame. They expect frequent updates. 86 percent of Gen Z told us influencers should post several times per week. They also follow more online-made influencers than Gen Y. They like to be part of the conversation, ranking higher in all types of engagement (comment, like, read comments, share, click, search for info).
But do they trust them? Across age groups, close friends and family members tend to carry the strongest awareness potential. However, the second biggest awareness channel divides generations: Gen Y turns to TV ads and Gen Z to influencers. In other words, a brand looking to effectively engage both generations should look to different channels. Trust is an equally important distinction. Gen Y tends to trust owned brand content more (Facebook/IG page, in-store recommendations, product websites), while Gen Z prefers the advice of influencers (both on/offline) and professional experts. Gen Z trust influencers nearly as close family members and colleagues. Higher levels of trust in influencer-endorsed products and brands among Vietnam’s Gen Z (56%).
And do they follow their guidance? Gen Z is the biggest purchaser of influencer products: 38% of Gen Z had purchased an influencer endorsed product at least once. Overall, Gen Z seems to have high expectations when it comes to influencer endorsement tactics. They pay more attention to these tactics than gen Y does. They expect an influencer to convince them they are actually using a given product, and they want to see them do so. They expect comprehensive information on the product, and they believe that the product should be relevant to the influencer’s presentation of the lifestyle.
Key takeaways for Brands
So what does it mean for brands? With the development of social media and digital communities, brands saw an opportunity to change the rules. Instead of buying media space, they could become media creators themselves. They developed communities and hoped to convert followers into customers through engaging content. But in 2018, Facebook started limiting the brand's organic social reach in favor of publishers and users, and today the platform tells brands that they should exclusively work within their array of advertising tools rather than through publishing tools. This obstacle created a void that has been filled by influencers, who have taken over from brand channels in the race for organic engagement. Today, brands hire influencers because of their access to highly-targeted communities, among whom they are able to boost engagement levels beyond what the brands could do alone.
Now that influencers have become the media, brands must adapt to the times. There are some of the new rules for brands. First, accept that the game has changed. Influencers are something between ads and publishers, they can make decisions about endorsements based on their personal branding. The appeal of influencers lies in how they create the content around the endorsement. Second, above all, be proactive. Spark a conversation that is meaningful to the audience, spread positive words about the brand, brand’s stories to take stands that get noticed, and above all to get people talking. The last one, stay relevant when your business depends on it. Messages should be more clearly targeted than ever, designed to reach specific communities via specific influencers. For followers, the quality and relevance of content depends on the influencers themselves.
Overall, Gen Z and Gen Y are the majority of Vietnam’s young population and an even larger majority of consumers and trendsetters. They gradually turned to prefer influencers because they have experience and can put their trust in more than conventional advertising from brands. However, not all influencers can lead to the success of a brand. Therefore, it is necessary to have appropriate strategies and choices of influencers, in order to bring experiences and content to create the trust from brand to young generations: Gen Y and Gen Z.
Established in 2011, CREATIO has proven its position and expertise in the industry of creative communications solutions consultancy. With a broad range of services from event management, branding design and production, to content marketing and PR distribution, CREATIO has the privilege to serve more than 120 clients worldwide, from a singular design concept to year-long integrated communications campaigns.
Source: Vietnam’s New Influencers, 2020.