In the evolution of marketing, who would have thought that a double tap meant dollar signs? Or that a blue check mark had more clout than an Oscar? But itʼs the age of the influencer, and anything goes.
“Itʼs amazing how much has happened in just a five-year window,” said Marc Beckman, founder of marketing agency DMA United.
Celebrity fashion influencers arenʼt new. In the 1960s, for instance, FN was covering tastemakers like Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. And in the 1980s, it was all about Madonna.
But Beckman noted that the recent rise of social media has allowed influencer marketing to proliferate, even to the point where it has displaced traditional editorial print.
Indeed, the days of glossy magazine ads and massive billboards have waned. Today, the preferred method to reach consumers is online, through social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter. The stars of those platforms include figures like Chiara Ferragni, DJ Khaled and Leandra Medine (all of whom have appeared on the cover of FN).
And the world of influencers constantly evolves. In 2015, for instance, Christian Louboutin took an (at the time) unusual approach to its #LouboutinWorld social media campaign, by featuring real people. The idea was surprisingly democratic for the luxury market, which typically favored an aspirational message. Since then, the similar tactic of using “micro-influencers” to authentically connect to a specific demographic has become widespread.
“Weʼve figured out how to harness the power of communication and apply that to a very specific demo profile,” explained Beckman.
Just look at TikTok, the China-based video sharing platform that has exploded in popularity in the U.S. since launching here in 2018. It is a breeding ground for Gen Zers, and brands are taking advantage.
However, some argue the influencer market is now becoming oversaturated and that their most appealing trait — raw relatability — is gone. And since the coronavirus pandemic, influencer allure has also been impacted, with more and more consumers being turned off by aspirational content. So will brands go back to the time-tested ways of marketing?
Beckman thinks so.
“The real fire power comes from the high-profile celebs,” he said. “If that brand has the money and resources, celebrity is the still the best and fastest way to reach the broadest audience and will get your message out there.”