Influencer marketing does not involve celebrities. Instead, it revolves around influencers, people who have become famous within the social media space owing to their content or the
type of trends they follow. In fact, it is the other way round in most cases and today celebrities are becoming influencers by trying to dominate and stay connected with their followers and
fans on social media.
“People do not buy goods and services, they buy relations, stories, and magic.” A great quote by Seth Godin clearly defines how marketing strategies should be built. Consumers look to purchase products that they can invest in. This growing consciousness has been the growth platform for Influencer Marketing and today it has become a big game changer within the corpus of marketing. According to a recent report this sector and is expected to grow to be worth $13.8 billion by the end of 2021. Keeping in mind the importance and the growing periphery of influencer marketing, we talked to experts to know the key trends, new strategies and growth factors, they are noticing.
Influencer Marketing refers to a trend, wherein promotion of products and services is done on social media platforms via a celeb or an influencer. For this type of marketing product mentions and endorsements from the influencers becomes the most important tool. This is because, opinions matter and the influencers in this case ‘influence’ or tell the customer what works and what doesn’t. This is one of the lucrative ways of marketing today and it creates a sense of trust among the customers, and the recommendations of the influencers act as social proof to the potential customers of the brand.
With a high number of followers to their credit, the Influencers today are the new opinion leaders, who are actively contributing to customer trends in different categories. The influencers, also get tagged in many ways based on varied parameters like follower strength, what they mostly review etc. With an aim to help consumers make better decisions and to let them make some well-informed choices, Influencers use buckets of tactics to present their thoughts. From product reviews, brand integration to reels and videos, the influencers are always strategizing the right way to set a mark with their customer.
Brand Marketing vs Influencer Marketing: How are brands taking a decision?
Both methods of marketing come under the landscape of modern marketing techniques with an aim to generate high sales, build brand loyalty, and higher brand awareness. Talking about the tactics at work Founder and CEO of Bewakoof, Prabhkaran Singh, said, “Currently, our spend in influencer marketing is under 10% of our total marketing budget. However, we plan to harness its potential more aggressively as we have seen good results so far and will be scaling our investment in this particular segment”. This clearly indicates that the fashion brand‘s traditional ways of marketing have got more success for the company. Whereas, things were totally different for Jatin Gujrati, Business Head of Vedix – a popular skincare brand, he says, “Influencer marketing has increasingly become a necessity for the brands all around the world because the influencers have the power of their community and help a brand communicate its message to the target audience. We have already implemented influencer marketing in our recent campaigns and have achieved great success with it”. This indicates that in whatever category a company exists, they are taking a call of action towards Influencer marketing.
One of the most pertinent questions for Influential Marketers is ‘How to Target Non-Millennials’? (People who don’t use social media). To answer this thought, Brand Marketing has taken a huge lead as brand campaigns aired on television, radio and different other formats always opens up the brand’s message to a bigger audience. Talking about this Prabhkaran Singh replied, “Currently, we don’t bifurcate or target non-millennial audiences separately through influencer marketing. We do however reach them through other forms of paid digital marketing mediums.” And Vedix is putting minimum effort as their target audience is from the millennial group only.
‘How to pick the right influencer for your brand’, is an uphill battle to decide or else the whole marketing campaign will be of no use. There are different categories of Influencers such as Nano Influencers, Micro Influencer, Macro Influencers and Mega Influencers depending upon the reach, relevance and resonance. Most of the brands pick up the influencers with a particular goal. Singh talked about this and shared that they pick influencers by checking broadly 2 areas, social media performance and how they resonate with their brand. Jatin Gujrati of Vedix believes that the influencer should match with the brand personality and also other metrics such as engagement rate and reach.
Apart from Influencer Marketing, there are different marketing methods that are getting popular among netizens such as Merchandise marketing, Email marketing, POP marketing and others. To which Singh answered “Merchandise marketing, be it pop culture merchandise or lifestyle products, fits really well with how influencer marketing works in general. We believe there is a good synergy between the two and it’ll continue to grow collectively and their company also uses techniques such as paid ads across Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube along with SEO, organic social media marketing, CRM, affiliate marketing and partnerships to drive marketing efforts.” At the same time, Jatin thinks that Merchandise marketing is more tangible and stays with the customer for longer and they believe that content marketing has grown drastically, and content is the only way through which brands can connect with the customers.
Reasons behind the rise of Influencer Marketing
In a world that is now greatly dominated by the digital route, Influencer marketing has become a big game changer. Earlier, celebrity endorsements used to capture the marketplace but social media marketing has changed the whole game through its effectiveness and affordability. The main credit of this change goes to Millennials and Gen Zs who are running the whole show. According to ClickZ, 22% of users in the age group of 18–34 make their buying decisions after watching celebrity endorsements. This statistics clearly hints that today, brand image is built through the influencers, to a greater extent.
Digitalization also gives you quick feedback, which makes the brand understand what to do and what not to do. The growing popularity of Influencer Marketing is getting a huge ROI for the business. To which Singh replied “Our marketing spends are in the same planned ratio with the focus on profitability and growth for the brand. However, post pandemic we did see a shift in advertising costs where it became cheaper to reach out to audiences with more people staying home and shopping online and consuming social media and with other offline players cutting down on their advertising investments. That change is close to getting normalized to pre-pandemic numbers now.”
The major reasons that the Influencer marketing has taken a huge lead compared to other marketing methods are:
- Small Budget, Large Influence: One of the biggest perks of this method of marketing, is that you don’t need a huge budget to start. You can hire Influencers starting from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. And it is also noticed that the influencers with smaller fan bases can generate high revenue with engaged audiences.
- Build Authenticity & Trust: The influencer will build trust among the audience, as they can present the campaign with a different perspective and the audience of the influencer is eager to know what he/she thinks and it can drive to change the buying decision of the consumer.
- Tracking Influencer Success: With this method, the success of a particular campaign can be seen simultaneously by just providing a URL. The URL can provide you with ongoing updates and the revenue gathered by each influencer.
Influencer Marketing is a game changer for retail sector
In the retail business marketing via ‘word of mouth’ creates a huge impact on the buyer. Earlier it was practiced directly by speaking about the brand, but now social media has changed the overall game. In a report by Market force, it was recorded that 81% of consumers make decisions based on their friends’ social media posts. Whether it’s food, beauty, fashion, insurance, gaming section or others, every sector is focusing on Influencer marketing to generate huge profits. Now, the Influencers are practicing paid partnership, sponsored posts, and reviews which creates a positive impact in the mind of the customers. Jatin believes that with the whole media consumption presence taking place in an online medium, Influencer marketing plays an important role in retail and online brands. Again, Singh from Bewakoof believes that it has already become a game changer as there are so many examples of D2C brands driving their growth just by the force of Influencer Marketing.
With brick and mortar retail stores closed down and physical events cancelled, major brands have shifted to omnichannel approach and influencer marketing is now the site for the help. Creators are becoming the cornerstone of every marketing strategy. Jatin further told us that the strategies have changed post-pandemic and there’s no particular way to define it. We experiment with different things, sometimes it succeeds and sometimes it fails miserably. Our focus is to create unique content which is relatable for our target audience. We are focusing more on ORM as post-COVID more and more customers are reaching us on social media platforms. Whereas Singh told us that their marketing strategies have not changed much. We are just seeing a change in advertising cost efficiencies and we strongly believe to invest more in digital marketing approach.