With brands investing more in communicating their products to the world, it’s clear that brand purpose is an area that should be focused on, no matter the size of a company. Trends have seen growth in influencer marketing in the last few years, with the ambassador/influencer industry estimated to be worth around $5.5bn with a projected rise to over $22bn by 2024.
With such growth, it would be expected that ambassadors have a significant influence on customer purchasing, but a report by Feefo actually tells a different tale.
The Feefo report states ‘61% of the consumers we surveyed say that celebrities/influencers being associated with a brand has no effect on their perception of that brand. Less than 1 in 5 (17%) say if they don’t like the celebrity/influencer this will create a negative perception of the brand, while only 12% say that if they like the celebrity influencer, the brand will benefit from a positive association.’
Jonathan Emmis, the founder of Amplify, quotes, “It’s no surprise that the power of celebrity and influencer marketing has waned. Celebrity still has a role to play in marketing, in much the same way as bombarding audiences with advertising does. Both celebrities and advertising can help put a brand on the map and guarantee awareness. But we can’t automatically assume that being on the radar in this way translates into influence, affinity or propensity-to-purchase.
“The mask has dropped on ‘influencers’ as consumers are astute and can see whether the relationship between influencer and brand is authentic, deep and adds value to their lives. For this reason, many brands are stepping away or using celebrity and instead moving towards campaigns that work with real and more relatable talent; people who share the brand’s values, passions or interests. This gives brands authenticity and permission to play in the focus area, audience or sector. Plus, there’s an added benefit here: collaborations and co-creation campaigns with emerging talent don’t carry the same hefty price tag as top-tier celebrity advertising. This helps brands create a larger volume of more interesting, engaging and entertaining content which can be targeted at pockets of audience, rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy. Lots of ‘small’ quickly ladders up to a whole lot of big.”
So, it’s fair to say that potentially less of the focus is now on celebrity influences or influencer branding and more on brand purpose as a whole.
Where is the influencer market pushing towards?
Brands are now opting for more trustworthy and relatable public figures to represent their brand. Neen Williams, a professional skateboarder, is a great example. Once a party advocate and someone who didn’t care much about their health when it came to training or eating the right things has had a life transformation becoming dedicated to working out, putting the right things into his body, and living a life of sobriety.
With this life of sobriety, it would not be a coherent move to be an ambassador to beer and alcohol companies as this is not an accurate representation of himself or the brand. Working with health companies, supplement brands for gym training, and companies within the skateboarding industry, customers are more inclined to buy a product as they can see it is a representation of this person’s way of life.
This relatable link between product and person is a great way to add that extra level of
loyalty to your brand, offering a meaningful reason why this person is a brand spokesperson/representative.
All this being said, the main reasoning for an influencer is to bring awareness to potential customers. Someone with a large Instagram following will have their target audience, meaning companies may gain extra growth from infiltrating an influencer’s following.
The world is on a continuous shift to a digital age, making it essential for brands to utilise social media. This shift into a digital age makes it much easier for smaller companies to compete with the more established brands. This digital move includes the world of influencers in a brand.
Feefo’s Marketing Director, Keith Povey says, ‘’With the continued shift online over the last 12 months, consumers have more choice than ever before, so it’s imperative brands focus on providing seamless digital experiences. By utilising social media and the ever growing pool of customer experience technologies, smaller businesses are able to compete with larger companies, which is ultimately good news for consumers.”
Will influencing stop altogether?
Influencing will likely continue as a marketing strategy; however, there will be less room for more influences to emerge. More and more businesses emphasise their branding, which has become apparent from the study carried out by Feefo and trends.
By presenting important brand values to customers across their social media sites and online marketing, businesses can better compete with larger companies choosing to use influencers as part of their strategy.
Many customers are also beginning to see beyond simply placing a famous figure next to a product; it seems that they want a ‘real’ connection with a brand as put by Wheble:
Povey goes onto say “Today, it’s crucial that brands define their purpose and communicate it effectively to their customers. Companies need to demonstrate that by doing business with them, their customers will be supporting a transparent, trustworthy and socially responsible brand.”
If businesses follow the advice given by Wheble, there is every chance that they can succeed without the use of influences. Today, customers are more interested in causes that matter and how companies are utilising more sustainable manufacturing methods.
Final thoughts to take away on influencers
Smaller brands should not be intimidated when more prominent brands use influencers as part of marketing. While it’s still common to see influencers on social media platforms, they do not determine the potential connection a brand builds with its customers.
In fact, through purposeful branding and clear communication of values that matter to others, smaller businesses have every chance of success. The report confirmed that ‘online reviews’ are the top influencers in purchasing decisions when researching/shopping for a product/service online (55%). Interestingly, 38% of consumers are influenced by website and digital experience’.