Are we over the influencer?
Our senior strategist, Stacey Neumann, looks at ways brands can continue to work together with influencers
— Senior Strategist
With the shifting Covid-19 landscape, we’ve seen the reprioritisation of value placed on materialism. As Marie Kondo so wonderfully introduced us to the concept of ditching that which 'does not spark joy', so too did the harsh reality of the unknown waters Coronavirus has left us chartering.
By no means is materialism dead, but how we are influenced, what we buy, and where we spend has become a lot more considered. Our checklist becomes far more complex than just asking ourselves if this purchase sparks joy, but we begin to question and justify 'where will I wear this', 'how much longer will I have disposable income', 'is it essential to my life?'
While China saw 'revenge spending' post lockdown which helped recover lost sales in the luxury sector, the UK reveals a more cautionary tale. As purchasing becomes more pragmatic, the dopamine hit from retail therapy has been compromised. In our latest report ‘Values over Valuables’ we revealed a steep decline on value placed on materialism and stated that "luxuries are set to see a contraction, with many planning to trade down and stop buying.”
So, with disruption to purchasing behaviours and media budgets in the decline, marketing departments are forced to re-asses how to prioritise brand, comms, e-comm and how they work with influencers.
Back in February, Forbes reported that 63% of brands were planning to increase their spending on influencer marketing, but the Covid-19 pivot has seen a dramatic decrease in #ad and #spon posts with a 41% decrease^ with lucrative deals have been both pulled and paused.
There is still opportunity to work with influencers in a meaningful and lucrative way. Here are some tips:
Move Beyond Celebrity
Consumers resonate with that which is a reflection of their life as it provides them with a sense of community, empathy and shared experience. This is where The New York Times has dubbed the 'swift dismantling of the cult of celebrity' during Covid-19 lack of relatability. However whitepaper, 'Trust, transactions and trend-setters: the realities of influencer marketing' found that over a quarter of consumers in the UK trust influencers more than high-profile public figures and celebrities and found that content creators have a significant influence over the spending habits of younger consumers, with 60% of 16-24-year olds crediting influencers with purchases they’ve made in the past six months.
What this shows us is that this 6.5billion influencer marketing industry is not going anywhere, however there is and will continue to be a recalibration, where accountability focused on value and sales will start to take centre stage in negotiation process.
Lean on Specialists Voices
“Consumers are increasingly seeking inspiration and guidance from those with expertise and specialist knowledge; influencers who provide solutions to a social media landscape littered with paranoia, confusion and boredom are seeing increased levels of engagement from a captive and receptive audience.” says Vogue Business.
Influencers are still a trusted source, they are still the gateway to culture, they still present accessibility, discovery and play a big part in pushing purchase. However, with materialism deprioritised, how brands and influencers work together going forward will have to be a lot more nuanced.
Look at building long term relationships with influencers and include them in the creative process to not only incentivise but help nurture familiarity and distinctiveness.
“Whilst the majority of influencer related work is limited to one or two social posts, brands are now keen to explore edited collections, design collaborations and more significant long term relationships based on influencers earning commission rather than a one off fee, which of course incentivises the influencer to go above and beyond to maximise their earning potential.” says Josh Cooper, head of influencer management, Next.
Whilst the relationship between brands and influencers is in flux, opportunities can be created together with to help connect with consumers in a more authentic, accessible and creative way.