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Influencer Marketing - is it a vital marketing tool for brands?

By Holly Snowdon

For those who are unaware, Influencer Marketing is essentially using someone with influence to promote a product or service. It’s safe to say that it is now the ‘go-to option’ for brands to speak to their consumers in an authentic way on a large scale and for good reason. According to a recent study undertaken by Nielsen Catalina Solutions, Influencer Marketing content delivers 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.

And whilst Influencer Marketing is one of the key buzzwords of the moment, it is hardly a new phenomenon. Thinking back to as early as the 1890’s, whilst brands hadn’t cottoned on to the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement at this point, they certainly saw the benefits of creating their own influencers to embody the key brand values and messages, which the customer could identify with and trust.

Aunt Jemima

The earliest recorded example of this was Aunt Jemima, who was created by the American based Davis Milling Company to help sell their pancake mix and maple syrup products. And boy did it work! An instant connection was made between the breakfast products and Aunt Jemima’s familiar, friendly face, evidently making people more inclined to purchase again and again.

Now these influencers don’t necessarily have to be humans. Tony the Tiger, for example, has been doing a sterling job at selling the sugar coated childhood favourite, Frosties since the 1950’s.

More recently, iconic celebrities such as Britney Spears, David Beckham and Beyoncé (to name a few) helped clear the shelves of Pepsi after featuring in glamorous campaigns of them sipping the soda in a sultry fashion.

Fast-forward a decade or two and this tactic is still used by countless brands to help promote their brand message, product or service to the masses. However, these days ‘influencers’ are more closely linked with bloggers and social media stars.

Why is Influencer Marketing such an effective way of marketing?

It’s all to do with trust. People trust people more than they trust brands or mass marketing messages. Consumers want to make meaningful connections with real people they can identify with as opposed to being constantly rather impersonally ‘sold’ to. This is why social media influencers and bloggers (often with slightly smaller followings than big shot celebrities) are so admired… they are real and people can really relate to them!

Generation Z and the Millennial generation, in particular, put a great deal of faith in the opinion of these popular social media influencers, whose viewpoint holds an increasing amount of power in terms of how brands and businesses are conveyed.

Influencer Marketing is essentially a highly effective and potent form of word of mouth advertising, which has proven to be one of the most powerful forms of marketing/promotion for a significant amount of time. So in spite of the on-going developments in the world of digital technology, as humans, we will always feel the need to connect with other humans. 73% of marketers say that they have allocated budget for influencer marketing (according to a study undertaken by Forrester), if your brand isn’t already doing it; perhaps it’s time to reconsider!

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