Manufacturers Turn to Gen Zers Parlaying Streaming into Product Selling Channel

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Manufacturing Outlook. To read the latest issue or to receive your free subscription, visit ManufacturingOutlook.com.

By Thomas R. Cutler

The new Gen Z and Entertainment divisions of the Manufacturing Media Consortium are looking at the way young D2C (direct to consumer) entrepreneurs use streaming to build an audience, a customer base, and most importantly generate sales. The old models of marketing methods for manufacturers have given way to TikTok, Instagram, and streaming platforms such as Twitch. Taking a page out of Wendy Williams mantra, “How you doin’?” the Gen Zers are using social media and streaming entertainment.  

The popularity of streaming has become the preferred way to promote a manufactured product to a receptive and loyal audience. Those that succeed derive a dual source of income from streaming: they are “gifted” a digital currency created by viewers. Some streamers earn $10,000+ per month and subtly pitch links or make suggestions to entrepreneurial product lines and websites. These viewers are deeply and continuously engaged, tuning in 24/7 to feel connected to favorite streamers; this has been particularly true during COVID where isolation is rampant. Streaming provides an outlet for everyone involved to feel human connection, even if only digitally.

These young entrepreneurs know what they are doing. Every successful streamer is focused on engaging the viewers, even if it is a quasi-fashion show (if they design clothes or jewelry) they must always make sure the people watching their stream are priority. The D2C model also allows the inventory SKU and production levels to be commensurate with viewers demand in real-time.  It is the Gen Zer version of QVC.  It is entertainment without the heavy purchase push. These platforms allow advertisers to jump on board and creating fifteen-second commercial ads the viewer must endure in order to continue watching the stream. Similar to advertisement in television, ad companies want to sell their clients’ products by placing commercial breaks during a popular streamer’s broadcast. Companies realize how many people are watching live streams, and they want to get brand exposure. 

 

As the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium, we are tracking and monitoring the dramatic uptick in streaming as a communication model for manufacturers. It is more than pushing products; in a Kardashian world, these Gen Z streamers are more than brand influencers or ambassadors. They are creating product lines just like any other manufacturing organization; they have turned to the communication dynamic which is natural, obvious, and authentic for them and their peers. Ultimately, whether the streamer receives gifts or uses their network to sell products, they are appealing to their customers, viewers, and loyal followers via this outlet and it’s very smart. ν

Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., celebrating its 23rd year. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 9000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. TR Cutler, Inc. recently launched three new divisions focusing on Gen Z, the African manufacturing sector, and manufacturing in the entertainment sector. Cutler authors more than 1000 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Over 5000 industry leaders follow Cutler on Twitter daily at @ThomasRCutler. Contact Cutler at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com.