Speaking to CNBC about the Rapidly Growing Influence of TikTok on Hollywood and Reaching Gen Z Audiences

Gen Z is the most sought-after emerging consumer group for many companies, advertisers, and brands around the world—and now Hollywood is taking action. Not only is Gen Z coming of age as coveted consumers and marketplace trendsetters, but they are driving trend adoption for older generations, too. 

What happens when you combine Gen Z’s burgeoning consumer influence, social media savvy, and Hollywood’s prowess for spotting emerging talent: Hollywood agents finding their newest talent on TikTok, of course!

Recently, I spoke with CNBC to share The Center for Generational Kinetics’ research into the rapidly growing value of Gen Z and why TikTok is such an important platform for engaging (and understanding) this vitally important consumer group. 

TikTok is the perfect medium for Gen Z breakout stars because it combines entertainment, personality, content, video, and fandom, all of which are perfect for discovering new talent that knows how to reach and keep the next generation of audiences. At the same time, you know that I frequently talk about the importance of meeting Gen Z where they are right now. In Gen Z’s case, that’s TikTok.

“As Gen Z comes up, they really are the best predictor of the future. Smart brands are trying to figure out how you connect with them in a sincere way. If you win Gen Z, you can win everyone else.”

As you may have witnessed during the “rise of Millennials” in the late 2000s and early 2010s, many established brands missed the opportunity to connect with Millennial consumers because they dismissed the generation as eventually communicating, shopping, and buying like the generations before them. That obviously did not happen (see: Blockbuster, Sears, and 1000s more now out of business retailers). Today, companies and their leaders are determined not to make that mistake twice—or have it end up as the capstone (or tombstone) on their career. 

Instead, smart leaders are paying very close attention to how Gen Z uses technology, communicates, learns, builds community, pays, and establishes consumer loyalty. Engaging Gen Z early and accurately is critically important, and that often starts at the intersection of entertainment, community, and technology, aka TikTok. Case in point: TikTok received more traffic in 2021 than Google!!! 

“That’s why you are seeing talent agencies, marketing agencies, influencer agencies, all kinds of branding agencies going to TikTok because that is the place where Gen Z already is. If you want to reach them, you have to go to where they are because you have virtually zero chance of getting them to where you are.”

TikTok is particularly compelling for Hollywood agencies because the platform allows agents to see the personality, creativity, and on-camera talent of Gen Z emerging stars and influencers on their favorite device and in their preferred setting (which might be their living room). At the same time, the best TikTok influencers are building massive engagement, with many boasting more than one million followers. 

Having a large, highly engaged following of fans who already know the Gen Z influencer via TikTok is one fantastic audition for Hollywood agencies, directors, and talent scouts. It also creates a built-in audience for any projects that the TikTok influencer participates in via traditional entertainment outlets, such as movies or streaming series. Candidly, it’s often a win/win for everyone involved—from the Gen Z creator to the agents, producers, directors, studios, financiers, brands, and the creator’s fans!  

In addition to spotting new talent on TikTok, Hollywood agencies are taking a cue from these non-traditional-celebrity influencers and bringing over established celebrities to TikTok to build a following with the next generation, too. This platform provides an ideal medium for re-introducing (or introducing) traditional celebrities because the videos are short, engaging, and enable celebrities to be more of themselves rather than portraying a role—especially if it was from a traditional TV series or movie from “way back” in the 1990s (aka vintage). 

In fact, the sense of authenticity, vulnerability, and connection available on TikTok is what attracts the next generation to traditional celebrities who have made the move to the platform. For example, a well-received approach on TikTok is for celebrities to give fans a glimpse into their “real” lives—and not just the pretty parts—and it is bolstering their careers and introducing established celebrities to a whole new generation of fans who might have been born long after the celebrity’s start peaked.

What do we predict about the future of TikTok, Gen Z, and the emergence of a new generation of celebrities? Even though the platform has now been around for a while, we believe that the talent, connection, community, and brand ROI it is generating is barely getting started. A further prediction: get ready to see many more TikTok stars on an increasingly large screen near you!  

As Generation Z further enters adulthood, as their influence and spending power continue to increase, we are looking forward to continuing to discover new insights about their impact, mindset, inspirations, and influence. At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we will be watching this exciting generation unfold and share our findings with you. Be on the lookout for our next State of Gen Z® 2022 study coming soon! 

Thank you for being on this journey of research, insights, and discovery with us and Gen Z.

Gen Z Media Research

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