DTC Influencer Strategies

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Direct-To-Consumer Influencer Strategy Case Studies

Three case studies of DTC brands' specific influencer strategies pertain to the companies Seed, Glossier, and Warby Parker.

Glossier: Microinfluencers

  • Glossier is a DTC cosmetics company.

1. Overview of Influencer Strategy

  • Glossier's influencer strategy is that it everyone is treated "like an influencer."
  • The company's philosophy is that their customers are their fans, those customers have a lot of selling potential, and all they need is to be given "the means to help convert sales." Those "means" provided include the stick sets that the company sends with its products to encourage people to take cool pictures of their products and post them on Instagram.
  • Though using customers to promote a brand is not new, "Glossier has morphed this brand fervor into something more by focusing on the power of the customer above all else. They [the customers] are the sun in which the Glossier brand revolves. "
  • Though Glossier receives social media attention from posts by influencers and celebrities, its "money is behind their followers" in terms of influencer strategy.
  • Since Glossier's influencer strategy is focused on microinfluencers, those individuals' social media followings are small. However, Glossier believes that strategy is best for the brand because the microinfluencers "have a more attentive and active base, and they target their content to a niche — so the relevance, and therefore the interest, is" very strong.
  • The content posted by the microinfluencers is treated by Glossier in the same way that content from well-known influencers is: The company tags the microinfluencers and gives them a shoutout in its social media channels. As a result, the followings of those microinfluencers increases, which simultaneously benefits the microinfluencers and Glossier in that more people will see the microinfluencers' content.

How The Influencer Strategy Has Helped Glossier

  • Glossier's microinfluencer strategy is helping the brand in a big way, as 80% of its "sales come from peer-to-peer discovery."
  • As of summer 2017, "Glossier’s Instagram ambassador program" accounted for eight percent of the brand's online traffic and sales resulting from "peer-to-peer referrals."
  • Over 1.7 million people comprise Glossier's community.
  • Glossier's influencer strategy increases brand awareness because by reposting pictures shared by customers, "the Glossier feed feel[s] more like a community and encourages even more people to create content." As a result of that increased engagement and demand, the bar for content quality is raised, which improves the feed over time, all while more fans of the brand start creating content of their own.
  • Glossier's influencer strategy also increases brand awareness because "the more content that’s out there, the more surface area [there is] for people to be exposed to Glossier products. And by engaging with these ambassadors, the company incentives 'micro-influencers' to work hard in spreading the Glossier brand. "
  • Warby Parker: Influencers Must Be Both Long-Time and Current Customers

    1. Overview of Influencer Strategy

    • Warby Parker's influencer strategy involves only using influencers that have been wearing Warby Parker products for years and are still wearing Warby Parker products.
    • This influencer strategy allows the company to sift out influencers who aren't truly interested in its products and, as a result, its influencers are authentic in their interest in the brand.
    • For those seeking to becoming Warby Parker influencers, the brand also considers the size of their social media followings, though that's not the primary consideration (being a long-time and current customer is the main consideration).
    • Warby Parker uses everyday influencers, not celebrities. The premise behind that approach is that consumers will likely find the influencers more relatable than famous people.
    • Warby Parker "influencers post regularly as part of an ongoing, real life brand story" instead of the occasional post that can lack authenticity.
    • The brand's core influencers are rotated, so that fresh perspectives and new voices are incorporated into "tell[ing] a bigger story" about the brand. In 2018, Warby Parker used a total of seven core influencers for such.
    • The hashtag used by Warby Parker influencers is #WearingWarby.

    2. How The Influencer Strategy Has Helped Warby Parker

    • Proof of how Warby Parker's influencer strategy has increased brand awareness is found in statistics showing the company's Instagram success.
    • Warby Parker's Instagram account has 382,000 followers.
    • On average, a Warby Parker Instagram post receives 4,000 likes and 50 comments.
    • Over 180,000 posts using the hashtag #warbyparker have been posted by the brand's fans and followers.

    Seed: Influencer University

    • Seed is a DTC probiotics company.

    1. Overview of Influencer Strategy

    • The company's influencer strategy involves an influencer training called Seed University, which deputed on June 25, 2019.
    • Seed University has been described as "the first of its kind and the only of its kind" and “unprecedented in social media partnerships.”
    • The company's influencer strategy centers around having influencers "know everything about the product." This is a strong departure from the strategy many companies employ, which is to instruct their influencers about what they need to say in their posts.
    • Participation in Seed University is mandatory to become a Seed influencer and sell its products and receive commissions from such.
    • Seed University is only available on Instagram and consists of six sessions, which together total approximately 50 minutes. Each session is an Instagram story. After completing the course, the aspiring influencers have to take and pass a test.
    • What sets Seed University apart from other brands who educate their influencers about the products is that just one of the Seed University sessions is about the probiotic product and the five remaining sessions are "about the science behind probiotics and FTC guidelines."
    • According to Seed's co-founder Ara Katz, most companies don't educate their influencers about the science behind the products and other information "because it often includes sales tactics." However, Seed took a completely different approach by open-sourcing all that information to its influencers.

    2. How The Influencer Strategy Has Helped Seed

    • Since Seed University just launched in July 2019, there was limited information about how the strategy has helped the brand (explained in Research Strategy section below).
    • As of July 2019, over 1,300 people were enrolled in Seed University.
    • As a benefit to people participating is Seed's pilot class, they will "receive 100% commission on the first month of a customer's subscription."

    Research Strategy

    We identified the three case studies above by reviewing articles about DTC brands' influencer strategies in sources such as Forbes and CBInsights, among others. We included the third case study about probiotics company Seed, despite the limited information about how its influencer strategy has increased sales, revenue, or brand awareness, because it has received a lot of media attention for the innovativeness of its influencer strategy. Thus, we wanted to include it because it appears to be an up-and-coming influencer strategy that's creating a lot of hype. The reason there's not a lot of that data out yet about how the influencer strategy has worked is because it just debuted this past summer. The reason we included this Google Doc for one of the sources about Glossier is because the link to that article doesn't directly lead to the article for some reason.
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    Bedding and Linens Industry Influencer Marketing

    DTC influencer marketing strategies within the bedding and linens industry include having a consistent image theme to create branding, influencer takeovers and allowing influencers to express their thoughts on the company's social media accounts, and repurposing influencer content across several platforms. Detailed below is more information about each of these influencer marketing strategies.


    • Consistent image theme to create branding: Tuft & Needle, an American DTC mattress and bedding brand, use organic designs on their Instagram page to evoke the feelings of rest and relaxation, and its influencers also use the same combination of simple designs with eye-pleasing pattern combinations and softer colors. Regardless of who took the photos, Tuft & Needles or its influencers, the goal is for the photos to come together under one brand.
    • Influencer takeovers: Bed Bath & Beyond's goal on their Instagram posts is to make the audience feel like they are a part of the family, and they do this by posting personal stories, quotes, events, all kinds of people, and even animals. In line with their Instagram strategy, they also use influencer marketing by allowing influencers to take over their Instagram account and post their own thoughts on the page. Their posts get an average of 4,215 likes and 39 comments.
    • Repurposing influencer content for the company's website or social media accounts: Eighty-three percent of marketing professionals repurpose influencer content even after the campaign is over. They repurpose the content across several platforms: 74% use it on their own social media channels, 46% use it on their websites, 36% use it for paid ads on social media, 20% use it on other digital media sites, and 14% use it for programmatic advertising ads.


    • Unboxed, a company that connects businesses with creators to provide consumer-personalized social media content, worked with two bedding companies, Dreamon and Sleephi, for their influencer marketing strategy.
    • Dreamon, a company that offers satin and linen beddings, want to enter the e-commerce space and get the "full confidence and acceptance" of their target market. As a solution, Unboxed looked for lifestyle micro-influencers who have at least a thousand followers and are in their 20s and 30s. Their first campaign involved 15 micro-influencers, who created a total of 25 Instagram posts, and the average engagement of the posts throughout the campaign was 11.5%. This is a success as according to industry standard, above 6% engagement rate is already considered "very high."
    • To date, Unboxed has now worked with Dreamon on its eighth influencer campaign. The total results of the eight campaigns that involve 42 influencers posting 72 posts are 50,218 engagements, 49,272 likes, and 946 comments.
    • With Sleephi's influencer campaign, the goal of the company is to reach out to its target customers by delivering the message that their products help them sleep better. Unboxed looked for home decor and lifestyle micro-influencers who have at least 5,000 followers and are in their 30s or older as these groups value a good night's sleep more than those who are younger. The campaign involved five micro-influencers who created six Instagram posts, and the average engagement rate of the posts throughout the campaign was 10.38%.