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Q&A: Standing out amid the TikTok noise with IF7

Insider Intelligence spoke with Harley Block, co-founder and CEO of Gen Z consultant IF7, about its strategy to help brands like Abercrombie & Fitch reach the younger audience on TikTok.

Insider intelligence: From a marketing perspective, what sets apart the Gen Z consumer from others?

Harley Block: Gen Z are the most socially conscious and smart generation. As a brand, you have to align with their values, and they're going to hold you accountable if you fail to do so. You need to be equipped to talk to the Gen Z consumer and be able to stand behind your values as a brand instead of being just lip service.

Secondly, creators today are the movie stars of yesterday. In my generation if a movie star did a brand deal, some people would accuse them of selling out. The culture now is completely different: It's viewed as validation to be working with a brand. The Gen Z consumer doesn’t mind being communicated to from a brand.

II: To capture the Gen Z consumer, which social media platforms do you advise brands focus on?

HB: Every brand is different and has varied objectives, ranging from awareness to driving action to increasing sales. Our strategy touches where the Gen Z generation is spending time, and that’s TikTok. It is the most powerful platform to reach this demographic right now.

Instagram's products are a little bit more mature from a commerce perspective than TikTok's, but TikTok is rapidly getting there. When we work with a brand, we work across platforms using TikTok as an entry point, but we also support TikTok content with social promotion content across places like Snap and Instagram, leaning on IGTV and reels and static posts.

II: What are the main challenges with TikTok marketing?

HB: Signal and noise. There's a lot of people yelling on one platform. Everyone's there, either working on TikTok from a paid ad perspective or working with creators on the platform organically. If you're a brand that's trying to reach youth (anyone under 40) you have to be present in some way on the platform, but it's challenging to stand out.

II: What was the TikTok strategy you employed with Abercrombie?

HB: Abercrombie focuses on the upper edge of Gen Z and millennial set versus the more teen Gen Zer. TikTok is culture right now with this group, and our strategy was in accessing subcultures and communities. We've seen a massive amount of success with the mid-level influencer who has 500,000 followers who are an incredibly engaged audience.

The idea was to employ a really diverse set of creators, in terms of ethnicity and race but also things like body type and the kind of content the creator is focused on. Abercrombie is a clothing retailer, but that does not mean we have only been working with fashion influencers.

We have worked with creators who have a connective tissue from an aesthetic standpoint that ladders up to Abercrombie. Various subcultures include people like dancers and chefs or a guy who is well known on TikTok for chopping wood with his shirt off.


This was originally featured in in the Retail By the Numbers newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.