Insights and Trends - Brands Using Influencer Content: Marketing and Advertising

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Insights and Trends - Using Influencer Content for Advertising and Marketing

Key trends surrounding influencer content for advertising and marketing include tracking ROI, use of videos, and gaming influencers. Below is a detailed overview of trends surrounding influencer content for advertising and marketing.

Influencers and Brands are Cracking Down on Fake Followers

  • Fake bots and fake followers are a major deterrent to influencer marketing efforts. In a recent study,50% of marketers said identifying fake followers and inauthentic engagements is the main challenge faced when using influencer marketing.
  • A recent study by CHEQ noted that $1.3 billion spent on adverting in 2018 went towards fake followers. Major advertising platforms are stepping up efforts to crack down on fake followers. Instagram has conducted several follower purges.
  • According to a report by Points North Group, around "14% of US and Canadian marketers’ Instagram influencer budgets were wasted on fake followers in 2018." In addition, a report by Influencer Marketing Hub noted that 63% of marketers and brands say they have had personal experiences with influencer fraud.
  • In 2018, Unilever announced that it would demand greater transparency from influencers in a bid to combat fraud. In a statement, the company's CMO Keith Weed said, the company is pushing for greater transparency in the influencer marketing space to combat fraud in the digital ecosystem; create better experiences for customers; and improve brands’ ability to measure impact."

Brands are Measuring ROI on Their Influencer Marketing Campaigns

  • A recent study found that up to 70% of brands measure the ROI on their influencer marketing campaigns.
  • One of the initial challenges marketers encounted while using influencers was how to measure ROI. In fact, in a 2018 study, 76% of marketers identified the inability to measure ROI as the main challenge when using influencer marketing.
  • Brands have started optimizing their marketing strategies thanks to improved ways of measuring ROI. This has led to a significant drop in vanity marketing.
  • Examples of platforms used to track ROI from an influencer marketing campaign include NeoReach and TapInfluence.

The Growing use of Video

Gaming Influencers are on the Rise, Especially Female Gamers

  • The number of mobile video gamers is raising so is the number of gaming influencers. Research by Newzoo research indicated that the global games market would be valued at $134.9 billion in 2018. The mobile gaming sub-sector would account for the largest portion at $63.2 billion or 47%.
  • Mobile gaming is growing and is expected to be worth $91.2 billion in 2021.
  • According to a report by Betting on Billions, 51% of mobile gamers are women while men account for 49%.
  • In 2018, women aged 18 and above accounted for 33% of gamers in the US compared to 17% for boys under 18. Another report shows that women make up 48% of the total gaming population compared to 40% in 2010.
  • Although the YouTube gaming community is dominated by males, female gamers are increasingly gaining ground on YouTube.
  • Despite being dominated by males for long, the gaming industry is moving towards gender equality, and marketers keen on growing their female audience are starting to consider female influencers.
  • Examples of female gaming influencers include SSSniperWolf, Fangs, and LDShadowLady among others. Leading online sport influencer marketing agencies include Upfluence and Viral Nation among others.

Growing use of TikTok and Twitch

  • TikTok and Twitch are emerging as major players in influencer marketing. TikTok, a short-form video platform has become a global sensation in the recent years especially among Gen Ziers. Up to 66% of its users are under the age of 30,making a top channel for brands to tap into the younger market.
  • In 2018, TikTok was downloaded over 660 million times. This figure rose by 188 million in Q1 2019 alone. Monthly downloads have also increased passed Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat.
  • Twitch is a popular platform and currently has many top gamers and streamers globally. The company's partner program has shown significant growth in recent years and events like TwitchCon are registering huge interest and support.
  • Examples of TikTok marketing agencies include Fanbytes and Obviously. Examples of successful TikTok challenges include Chipotle's #GuacDance hashtag challenge and Sony's AJR Brothers’ 100 Bad Days.

Research Strategy

We managed to get key trends surrounding influencer content for advertising and marketing. For the trends, we selected those that featured in multiple sources. In addition, we selected those that are said to be happening on a wide scale and causing the largest impact as evidenced by available research studies. Finally, we mainly considered trends that are backed by market research.
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Insights and Trends - Influencer Content In-Store and/or Point of Sale

Three in-store/point-of-sale influencer content trends noted by multiple sources are (1) influencer store events, (2) "in-store activations," and (3) live-streamed shopping in-store. Additionally, we found two other trends that were each noted by one source, which are inviting influencers to visit the store so they can experience it for themselves and influencers designing creative displays in stores. The connection between influencer content and in-store shopping is clear, considering that about 60% of people in the U.S. utilize social media when shopping at a brick-and-mortar store.

Three In-Store/Point-of-Sale Influencer Content Trends

1. Influencer Store Events

  • Per our research, it appeared that influencer store events is currently the likely top, in-store influencer content trend, based on the widespread discussion about the trend.
  • Influencer store events constitutes an in-store influencer content trend because it was expressly described as such by multiple, credible sources (including Retail Next, Izea, and Retail Wire).
  • Influencer event collaboration "was the second-most popular strategy for engaging with influencers" in 2018, which is significant considering that much of what influencers do is online, yet this trend was offline.
  • Stores host events in collaboration with influencers to simply draw a lot of people to the event and, in turn, the store. Many of those people are the influencer's loyal followers who then come to checkout the featured product(s). However, the influencers often draw additional people to the brick-and-mortar store by posting pictures of the event online.
  • Examples of influencer store events include parties for product launches, product demonstrations, or classes taught by the influencers.
  • Brands that are leaning into this trend are Tarte Cosmetics and Armani, as those brands "leverage influencers to reach millions of consumers before, during, and after their events."
  • A key factor behind the trend of influencer store events is that people more-often share experiences than they do tangible items, which is "why emerging brands are putting the experience of the brand at the forefront instead of the product."

2. Activations In-Store

  • A second trend for in-store influencer content is "in-store activations" which involves utilizing influencers to boost in-store sales and traffic.
  • Though the influencers reach their audiences for this trend online, the focus is on in-store/point-of-sale because the products or offers being promoted are solely available in-store.
  • An underlying concept behind this "in-store activation" trend is to communicate the value of shopping in-store to consumers.
  • To drive sales and traffic to brick-and-mortar stores as part of this trend, influencers often provide a coupon or discount code that's only available valid for redemption in particular, brick-and-mortar retail stores.
  • This is an in-store influencer content trend because it was described as such by at least two credible sources (Izea and Power Digital Marketing).
  • Energy-drink company 5-Hour Energy embraced this trend and achieved a 1.8% increase of sales in-store within the three markets that it tested this concept in.
  • Examples of large brands that have leaned into this trend include Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods.

3. Live Streaming In-Store Shopping

  • Live-streamed shopping is an emerging trend for in-store influencer content.
  • This trend has rapidly developed and become immensely popular in Asia, though it also is emerging within the United States and elsewhere.
  • As its name implies, live-streamed shopping from a retail store involves influencers live-streaming their in-store shopping experiences and showcasing items to those watching.
  • The idea behind this trend is for viewers to see the items that influencers are showcasing within the store and then go purchase the items from those retailers. Viewers can also ask the influencers questions about the products and can even ask them to show other items that the store has in real-time.
  • As part of this trend, the store owner or manager is often introduced during the live-streamed shopping visit.
  • Live-streamed, in-store shopping is an in-store/point-of-sale influencer content trend because it was described as such by at least three, credible, retail sources (Retail Wire, PSFK, and Alizila).
  • A boutique brand that has leaned into this trend and achieved resulting success is Pippin Village, which saw its monthly sales increase by 10%.
  • Though live-streamed shopping also happens online, an industry professional noted that in China (where this trend is immensely popular), "[t]here has been a visible shift in livestreaming from broadcast rooms to offline retail stores, local farms and apparel factories on Taobao [an ecommerce site]." That industry professional further stated that "purchasing products through livestreaming has already become a habit, and I only see this habit growing stronger in the future."

Two Additional Trends

1. Inviting Influencers to Visit the Store

  • An additional trend for in-store influencer content involves inviting influencers to visit the store and experience it for themselves.
  • This trend can be used to promote both products sold in-store and services offered in-store.
  • An advantage for brands inviting influencers to checkout in-store services is that consumers who learn about that experience from those influencers and are interested in such would have to visit the store themselves, since those services can't be bought online like products often can be. By the same token, we believe this trend could also be especially valuable for stores that don't sell online (such as boutiques), since interested consumers would have to visit the store to buy the items.
  • This trend of extending personal invites to influencers to visit the store makes a lot of sense, considering that "51% of influencers state that they usually buy clothes and accessories in physical stores."
  • This trend has been noted by marketing source Grin, which is why we included it as a trend (full explanation provided below).
  • Macy's is a brand that has leaned into this trend, including through its MyStylist service.

2. Influencers Designing Creative Displays In-Store

  • According to an article published by MasterClassing, one of the "Top 5 Influencer Marketing Trends for Brands in 2019" is that influencers will start to be used by brands for different types of advertising than they previously have been.
  • Influencers are increasingly being utilized by brands for offline advertising efforts, such as by them designing creative displays featured specifically in-store.
  • This trend has been noted by the source MasterClassing, which is why we included it as a trend (full explanation provided below).

Research Strategy

We distinguished the first three trends from the two additional trends due to the number of sources that noted the trends. The first three trends were noted by multiple sources. The additional two trends we included were only noted by one source, but we wanted to include them nonetheless because they are directly relevant to this topic. Thus, for those two additional trends, we couldn't find all the requested information, but we were able to for the (first) three trends requested. We identified all the in-store influencer content trends by reviewing multiple articles from an array of sources about that very topic. Examples of sources that published those articles included Retail Next, Retail Wire, and Izea, among others. Lastly, our research findings are global in scope, as was requested.
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Case Studies - Brands Using Influencers: New and Innovative

OshKosh B'Gosh, The Body Shop, and Boxed Water are three examples of case studies of brands that are using influencers in a new and innovative way.

Case Study #1: OshKosh B'Gosh #BreakForSpring

What the Brand is doing

  • In order to increase sales, brand awareness and to capitalize on the shopping time of the parents of toddlers during spring break, OshKosh B'Gosh, together with Everywhere Marketing Agency, started an influencer campaign driven by user-generated content.
  • OshKosh partnered with 75 bloggers and micro influencers to promote contents about spring break planning and packing by sharing a 25% discount coupon code and conducted a giveaway on their own blogs. They also shared "professional-looking photography featuring their children wearing awesome OshKosh styles."
  • The company made sure to choose influencers that have followers that fall within the target audiences of OshKosh. They also waited for the holiday season to run their campaign, using 25-50% discount codes to entice consumers.

Success Metrics

  • OshKosh's #BreakForSpring campaign resulted in more than 42 million impressions, 740 social posts, more than 15,000 engagements, and over 8,000% ROI "as a result of the coupon code going viral during the campaign."

Case Study #2: The Body Shop #thebodyshopdk

What the Brand is doing

  • The Body Shop partnered with Brandheroes to "boost awareness for their eco-friendly skin care products to the Danish consumers."
  • They used the help of micro influencers to promote The Body Shop in a two part post-on-demand campaign.
  • The first post-on-demand campaign was all about inspiring target audiences by using influencers from Denmark and sharing photos in social media that portray and expresses how the influencers, in a more personal way, "were great fans of the brand’s take on beauty and health from a natural and eco-friendly perspective."
  • The second campaign focused more on the single product of body butter/yogurt where the influencers posted pictures of "how they incorporate the product into their daily beauty routine."
  • 70 posts by 70 micro influencers were selected by The Body Shop to redirect potential new followers.

Success Metrics

  • The Body Shop's post-o-demand influencer marketing campaign held a combined potential reach of 132.473 people, with posts generating about 8,191 likes and comments and a 7.5% engagement rate.

Case Study #3: Boxed Water #BetterPlanet

What the Brand is doing

  • Boxed Water used influencer marketing combined with cause marketing to "encourage environmentally conscious consumption." (s6)
  • In 2015, Boxed Water launched their #ReTree campaign, rebranded to #BetterPlanet later on, in partnership with influencers and the National Forest Foundation.
  • The campaign encourages Instagram users to post content about Boxed Water using the #BetterPlanet (#ReTree before rebranding) hashtag. The company has promised to plant two trees per post.
  • Boxed Water partnered with celebrity influencers such as Aidan Alexander, Jamie King, YouTube star Megan de Angelis, Alyssa Milano, and Julianne Hough to promote and share the details of their #BetterPlanet campaign on social media.

Success Metrics

  • Boxed Water's influencer marketing campaign helped "increase Boxed Water’s reach tenfold, despite the brand having a relatively small presence on Instagram with just over 71,000 followers."
  • Their campaign also brought about the support of many celebrities, which greatly helped Boxed Water to plant "more than 800,000 trees (and counting) in partnership with the National Forest Foundation in areas affected by deforestation and wildfires."
  • Their #ReTree and #BetterPlanet campaigns generated a combined 9 million paid social media impressions, a 67% increase in net website sales, and media coverage from Business Insider, US Weekly, InStyle, Fast Company, and Well + Good.


From Part 01
  • "This has become such a pressing issue that spotting fake followers and inauthentic engagement was the number one priority for marketers in our 2019 industry survey. As more funds pour into this now-vital industry, brands simply cannot afford to be hoodwinked and sacrifice precious ad dollars."
  • "A recent study published by CHEQ suggested that $1.3 billion in advertising dollars have gone toward fake followers, up from $500 million as InfluencerDB’s CEO Robert Levenhagen presented in his keynote at 2018’s Influencer Marketing Show. Unfortunately, despite the warnings, a black market has emerged within the influencer ecosystem and fraudulent influencers continue to buy fake followers, fake likes and fake engagement."
  • "Last week, Unilever CMO Keith Weed announced that “the company is pushing for greater transparency in the influencer marketing space to combat fraud in the digital ecosystem; create better experiences for customers; and improve brands’ ability to measure impact."
  • "Social media is rife with bots and fraudulent accounts, and some influencers purposely buy fake followers in order to fool marketers into working with them. Points North Group estimated that nearly 14% of US and Canadian marketers’ Instagram influencer budgets were wasted on fake followers in 2018. And 63% of marketers and brands admitted to having personal experience with influencer fraud in past campaigns, according to 2019 data from Influencer Marketing Hub."
  • "One of the more impressive results from our survey was the finding that 70% measure the ROI on their influencer marketing campaigns."
  • "The more brands start to invest in influencer marketing the more demand there is to track the success of their campaigns. A number of tools are available in the market to help you not only track ROI from influencer marketing, but identify who the right influencers are to approach for your brand. Metrics such as impressions and post numbers are a great starting point, then reach will give you a bit more detail on impact."
  • "We are short on time and attention, but we love to be entertained. This is why video marketing is growing across all platforms, and currently represents more than three quarters of all internet traffic."
  • "According to revised Newzoo research, the global games market was predicted to be worth $134.9 billion in 2018. The largest sector of this was mobile gaming which was estimated to be worth $63.2 billion, 47% of the global games market. This is a downwards revision of Newzoo’s original predictions, due to the regulatory changes in China combined with a current lack of new global blockbusters."
  • "Female gamers are a growing consumer group interested in both games and gaming influencers. We’ve updated the top 11 female gamer statistics to track the preferences of this increasingly relevant gaming community."
  • "While the YouTube gaming community may still be considered a “boy’s club” in many respects (the majority of the most-viewed videos are published by men and the most well-known, well-paid gamers all have a Y chromosome), female gamers on Youtube are quickly gaining ground on their male counterparts."
  • "With its massive presence, TikTok has captivated hundreds of millions of users all over the world. 26.5 million of the 500 million monthly active users are from the U.S, while 40% of TikTok’s new users are from India. Overall, TikTok is available in 150 markets and in 75 languages."