Welcome to the world of digital natives, where boys and girls were born with a smartphone in their hands, and micro-thin laptop computers are a given rather than a futuristic dream.  This generation of more than 2 billion people worldwide are those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, and they hold more than $44 billion in annual purchasing power, according to a study from IBM and the National Retail Federation.  Otherwise known as Gen-Z,

The digital savvy Gen-Z, as they are otherwise known, has proven innovative, entrepreneurial, and far different from the Millennials who differ by just a few years but virtual lightyears.  What is it about Gen-Z that separate them, forcing unique and strategic brand and marketer considerations?

  • Generation Z is smart, global and only influenced by their peers.
  • According to a survey, teens trust the opinions of YouTube stars more than they trust TV and movie celebrities.
  • Selling brand products through YouTubers vs. brands will win Gen Z consumers.
  • BS doesn’t work on this crowd.
  • Digital technology is Gen Z’s playground.
  • They have $44 billion in annual purchasing power in the USA alone.
  • Gen Z’s reject TV, email and the fake world of celebrity.

Ultimately, the power players have grown popular because of their authenticity.  They speak to their peers in a way that their peers “get,” not through some formulaic process a multi-billion dollar corporation has forced them to follow.

Younger influencers are growing up and speaking up, able to reach more of their peers and make more of an impact.  Let’s take a look at who some of this year’s biggest power players are in the Gen-Z influencer space.

Gen-Z Power Influencers

1. Patrick Finnegan, 21, Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur, self-described “influencer” and “disruptor,” Finnegan is a Gen-Z expert and consultant.  He told CNN Money, “Brands that used to solely focus on [Millennials] are just now getting how important Gen Z is, and I can help make that transition.”

2. James Charles, 18, Makeup Artist, Singer, Covergirl

First male spokesmodel for CoverGirl at the age of 17, an internet sensation, James Charles has not led without his share of controversies.  He’s a young, outspoken, flippant “sista,” who perhaps speaks before she thinks, but Gen-Z loves her all the more for her openness.

3. Shawn Mendes, 19, Singer-Songwriter

Shawn drew followers by sharing his music on Vine, and soon enough he became a famous singer-songwriter with the support of his peers.  All it took was a year for him to catch the attention of managers and land a record deal.  The backing and power of Gen-Z are real.

4. Cameron Dallas, 23, Actor & Internet Personality

He rose to internet fame through Vine and YouTube, for off-the-cuff videos like a zany new hairdo.  Now an internet sensation, Cameron has translated his fame to acting as well.

Luscious arm pit hair at its finest

A post shared by Cameron Dallas (@camerondallas) on

5. Bethany Mota, 21, Vlogger

Comedy, youth, and beauty are on Bethany’s side.  Her quirky videos appeal to a mass Gen-Z audience as she offers tips, advice, and dailies for her fans and followers.

Other mentionable Gen-Z power players include Bella HadidKyemah McEntyreLuka SabbatMaty NoyesYara ShahidiKyemah McEntyreLuka Sabbat, Maty Noyes, and Yara Shahidi.

Where brands and marketers are considered, the time has come to integrate Gen-Z in marketing and influencer campaigns.  Companies can no longer afford to only look as far as Millennials because Gen-Z is not only a massive consumer base, they are also your competitors and competitors-in-the-making.