If influencer marketing prevails in very aspirational industries such as beauty, fashion and sports, it now seduces actors from all sectors. But what is influencer marketing, exactly?
On paper, it is a set of practices used by brands to leverage key users’ reputation and visibility by reaching their communities and followers. This can have a positive impact on the brand’s own notoriety by creating affinity bridges with relevant influencers, whose reach keep increasing on a variety of topics. Integrating the right influencers in a content strategy sensibly improves brands’ ability to create impactful relationships with their prime targets, thanks to legitimate messages delivered by people they trust.
Digital influencers, a world of its own
Earning your living with social media? This idea was implausible just a few years back, but now it’s as real as can be. Digital influencers build a career in a field through their fame, by creating relevant content and sharing on the right platforms, with the right codes. They often listen to their hearts and share their daily crushes on this and that.
But who exactly are these people?
First they are celebrities and muses, who are de-facto insanely popular and come with huge communities of admirers. Characterized by their power, their legitimacy, and their proximity (the “good friend” effect) these influencers don’t necessarily need digital to support brands. They’ve become full-on brands themselves and are developing more and more competing activities of traditional brands within aspirational sectors.
There are also opinion leaders or niche influencers who enjoy greater legitimacy and influence in their sectors, being present mainly on social media. They reach targeted audiences and give credibility to the brand. Their communities are about a million subscribers. Some of them become their own brands and coexist with brand partners that reward them.
Finally, the micro-influencers or “consum’actors” that have a smaller community (generally not exceeding 100,000 subscribers) but have a real proximity with their subscribers. They become new targets to reach for brands and professionals. Micro-influencers have 60% engagement rate, which is higher than niche influencers, and they push their communities 6.7 times more towards purchasing behavior. The main reasons? A more loyal and focused community, a bigger personal investment, greater proximity to their communities and established authenticity.
Brands opening to communities and looking for the "winning business model"
Facing this trend where influencers have completely changed the game, brands find themselves needing to seize the opportunity to incorporate marketing influence in their strategy.
Every month on Youtube, 700 million videos are watched in the beauty sector only, and among the top, 80% were created by youtubers and not by brands: they perform better than professional content produced by big brands and go up systematically on research trends of consumers eager for beauty tips.
One might think that this strategy remains exclusively dedicated to visually attractive domains, but the reality is quite different. In addition to the fact that in the United States, this market is estimated at $1bn in 2016 and has increased by more than 85% in 2017, influencer marketing works for all advertisers. The challenge depends much more on the concept of the campaign or on the quality of the visuals than on the sector concerned.
The #IsaveSoICan campaign, launched by the US bank USBank, sought, for example, to make today’s young people aware of the need to save money. The bank has 32 influencers and managed to reach 2.6 million users. The perfect proof that digital influence is not discriminatory sector-wise. So don’t wait anymore!
But more than a model to apply in brand campaign by systematically integrating influencers to increase the reach of targeted audiences, influencer marketing is becoming an overall winning business model right now. LVMH hit a homerun by doing business with Rihanna.
The icon has launched her own cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty, by Rihanna’s real name. Under the benevolent supervision of Kendo, the LVMH group’s beauty brand incubator, Sephora – a LVMH owned distribution brand – has propelled the Fenty Beauty brand throughout all her distribution network. At the same time, Fenty Beauty has structured a marketing approach based on an influence strategy articulated around micro influencers. The cosmetic brand met a huge success after this launch, claiming the winning attributes of a post-modern and post-digital brand:
- Working with an influencer icon,
- Products marked with an “authenticity” seal and anchored in the current micro-cosmetic trends,
- Vertical integration including the distribution model,
- An immediate global dimension…
Influence marketing is no longer a simple lever to agitate for marketing directors, it has become a key stake for brands that want to prosper in the coming years.