We all have seen the annoying ads telling us about the things we should buy based on our search results. This often leads to annoyance for this intrusive use of our data and even a negative view of the brand being sold to us. These marketing messages have bombarded us for so long that we have become immune to their tactics. But who can we trust to advise us on what to buy? This is where influencer marketing fits in.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is when brands collaborate with an influencer to reach a new audience. This works as a tool to broaden their pool of potential customers and ultimately lead to more sales.
Why does influencer marketing work?
The principle of influencer marketing has stemmed from ‘word of mouth’ marketing strategy. The ‘word of mouth’ strategy was restricted to the immediate community around us, which limited in the sphere of influence. Word of mouth marketing can be defined as the way a person can influence someone else’s actions by sharing their experiences or opinions.
According to marketing expert Seth Godin, celebrities and editors could be associated as the ‘Original Influencers’ with their expertise and trusted relationships with fans being used to market products. However, in modern-day influencer marketing, the status of ‘celebrity’ can be attributed to a wider variety of sources. This has been made possible through the use of online platforms such as Instagram and Youtube where any can share their opinions regardless of their expertise.
This has meant followers of an ‘influencer’ will trust such an opinion because of their unassociated links to external companies. The trust is built on the follower forming an ‘online community’ which could be seen as an extension of their immediate ‘word of mouth’ community. The follower regards the ‘influencer’ like a friend who is sharing their authentic opinion.
Is the market saturated?
The majority of companies actually use influence marketing in some way, but consumer ‘engagement rate’ has declined from ‘4 per cent (2016)’ to ‘2.4 per cent (2019)’ for the Instagram platform. Various factors may affect this decrease.
According to many experts, the main issue is the choice of influencer that brands chose to collaborate with. Many brands may initially go for an influencer based on their follower numbers. However, fans are not necessarily responding positively to this approach and therefore this will leads to the same consumer annoyance as other intrusive forms of marketing.
The main reason that such a collaboration has become stale for consumers is that it has lost the ‘authentic value’ for consumers.
Source : Mobile Marketer, 9th July 2019
What does this mean for the future of influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is still valuable for brands and consumers, however, there is a need for continual innovation to maintain engagement.
How can brands innovate in this field?
The ‘authenticity’ value is the key driver of this field. Here are ways fashion brands can develop their strategies for working with influencers:
- Elevating Choice: brands are being intentional with their choice of influencers. This means that brands are more likely to benefit from choosing influencers with a lifestyle or values that connect to the brand story.
- Create engaging narratives around the brand identity by using storytelling to connect to audiences.
New Influencer Strategies
Uniqlo x TikTok
Uniqlo used the TikTok to reach out to their consumers to share their favourite picks from Uniqlo’s UT line. This technique allows its users to become their own influencers by creating personalised content that is shown in Uniqlo’s stores worldwide.
Source: Marketing Executive
Nike x Honour of Kings
Nike has begun selling branded avatar skins on the Honour of Kings gaming platform with a gaming community of 200 million users. This is a unique way to advertise and generate recurring revenue.
TikTok’s Chinese counterpart, Douyin has developed an innovated feature that potentially makes most content part of the influencer strategy. The feature works by allowing users to zoom into video to get a closer look at the clothing, with links connect to the products for related content for immediate purchase. The ingenious element to this innovation is the fact that this is not simply for brand-generated content but can be used for any user’s video on the platform.
Source: State of Fashion Report 2020
Overall brands must make strategic choices about influencer marketing depending on consumer demographics and region. For instance, the rate of social media engagement is slowing in some Western countries. Meanwhile, in East Asia, the growth of social media platforms is still thriving. This is fuelled by Asia’s attitude of welcoming new innovations with open arms. However, this comes with risks for brands as they may be less loyal in the long-term.