Keywords: marketing,influencers, consumers, communication, brands, Internet, social networksFirstly, taking intoaccount the capabilities of a company and its environment, marketing aims tostudy all actions and consumer behaviour.
This results in a means of action toadapt the companies commercial proposition to the needs of the consumers. Theobjective is to determine the best combination for supply in responding todemand whilst monitoring the results against the initial objectives. Secondly,marketing is constantly evolving in order to look for new solutions to meetconsumer demands. Individual developments lead to consecutive developments viacompetition and technological progress. In the present day, olfactorymarketing, interactive screens, street marketing, social networks, artificialintelligence, drones, augmented reality etc. are popular methods. This is alsothe case for influencer marketing, an actual evolving trend.
The emergence of theinternet and social networks has given rise to a generation of thematicinfluencers and influencer marketing allowing brands to benefit, from theseplayers, for their communication strategy in order to obtain greatervisibility. This essay will first discuss influencer marketing in relation tomarketing theory development. Second, the discussion of influencers industry,in marketing and how it can influence and affect the process of going to marketfor an organisation, will be analysed. Society has evolvedthrough different eras. They have guided marketing towards what it has becometoday. First through modernism, then post-modernism and meta-modernism. Modernsociety is based around beliefs in science, progress, an objective and independentreality, the individual etc.
Modernism is the movement, that in visual arts,music and literature, rejected the old Victorian standards that determined themodes of conception, reception and meaning of the work of art. In the modernera, individuals live in a structured society where feelings of security andstability are prevalent. Individuals know where they are and where they stand. Inthe late 1960’s, different ideas and cultural currents of the time challengedthe conception of the modern world. Postmodernism is more liberated whilstbeing less structured as each individual is free to become who they wish to beby making decisions that affect them personally. Postmodernism allows individualsto have different viewpoints whilst following them.
It fosters socialconstructivism and encourages criticism and questioning. Society is no longer blindlyguided by religious, political or scientific movements. It was present untilthe end of the 1980’s and it affected all forms of creation. Meta-modernismfirst appeared during the first decade of the 21st century. It attempts tounify, harmonize and settle the conflict between modernism and postmodernism.It calls into question the universality and veracity of modernism as well asthe fragmentation and scepticism of postmodernism. On the other hand, meta-modernism isconstantly evolving by accepting progress, development, thought, hierarchy,etc. As marketing isgradually evolving and creating new products with the aim of satisfyingconsumer needs and desires.
Consumer habits change with time due to fashionsand trends etc. Marketing must stay nimble, reactive and able to engage andconstantly evolve with consumers. To do this, it must determine if somestrategic practices become obsolete and if others are now able to reflectconsumer habits.
Some factors are at the root of the change. Demographically,the world’s population has steadily increased over time. On the other hand,some demographic trends are emerging, such as the aging of baby boomers, thetransition from cities to suburban areas or the growing acceptance of the gaycommunity. All these factors have led to a strong demographic transition. Thedifferent economic periods play a major role in household spending. Duringtimes of crisis or recession, consumers want to save their disposable income.
Elsewhere, during a period of expansion, consumers are more inclined to spend.This was illustrated very well by the subprime crisis in 2007. Further,cultural beliefs are passed down from generation to generation and each changehas an impact on consumer purchases. Social trends are changing, for example,single-parent families are increasing whilst hobbies change with time. Therefore,this creates a new need for new products. Furthermore, technology has significantlyincreased which has led to it being a big driving factor for change. The arrivalof the Internet and social networks has led to the emergence of a new means ofcommunication and a creation of new professions.
Presently, everything isdeveloped around the Internet, this creates competition between brands which leadsto innovation. Almost daily new products are appearing such as connectedobjects or smartphones. The opportunities are then multiplied tenfold forcompanies that take advantage of this impulse. Consumers discover new needs andwishes. Over the generations, some trends are more striking than others.
Theseare megatrends. It is the invention of printing, telephone and possibly theinvention of Internet. The changes andevolution that has taken place in the recent years has had an impact onconsumer buying behaviour.
Its needs and expectations have evolved as a resultof various factors such as: the globalisation of markets, technologicalprogress or competition. Originally consumers are rational maxi-misers, theymainly seek to meet their needs and maximize their utility (satisfaction). However,the increase in purchasing power has encouraged consumers to spend more onleisure. This represents the beginning of materialism for Marx. Indeed, Marxistprinciples distinguish between perceived and actual needs.
Marketing focuses onsatisfying perceived needs and leads to the emergence of the modern consumer. Individualscommunicate their social identity through various personal goods such as theircar. Each individual shows who they are and what they believe in through theproducts and services they consume.
However, the rise of the web and theemergence of social media and networks have empowered consumers. Dialoguemarketing appears which promotes the exchange between the company and theconsumer. Through social media, the modern-day consumer has the power to damagea company’s reputation or brand, the consumer wants to be listened to and theiropinions to be taken into account. In previous years, brandshave sought to reach and amplify the message conveyed by communication.
Presently,the objectives of influencer marketing are changing. The most importantobjective has become increasing credibility, brand awareness, user engagementand to reach new target audiences. Influencermarketing, which presented itself during 2016, is a new and growing trend thathas become an essential communication lever for brands. Influencer marketingaims to support brands in their campaigns by enabling them to disseminateinformation through influencers.
They are present on social networks such asblogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and post articles, photos, etc. Thisincreases the brand’s visibility amongst its target audience due to the subscribersof the influencer. The aim is to improve the brand’s image or reputation bytargeted communication with a qualified audience. Contrary to the buzztechnique, influencer marketing allows a good control of informationdistribution and a better definition of content. Influencer marketing can beachieved through different techniques.
It is possible to act by sponsoringcontent on social networks. A brand can also send a product to an influencer. Theinfluencer will use it and share their experience with their community. Thistechnique is called the Buzz kit. The importance is to know how to choose aninfluencer with the same theme as the brand universe.
Some companies can thenpromote their products through travel blogs. Influencers thoughts and reviewswill then be posted onto their blogs. Other social networks such as Snapchat, YouTubeor Instagram are also ideal places to make a good product placement.Furthermore, another technique that has only recently been noticed is unboxing.
The principle is that an influencer unboxes a parcel in front of their cameraand posts it. The reactions are then thought to have a higher validity toconsumers resulting in a truer reaction which consumers are thought to appreciatemore highly. The takeover is also used by brands as they give control of one ormore of their social networks to a influencer. This action is often used duringa communication campaign. Other means can be used such as invitations toevents, giveaways or web-series.
Presently, digitaltechnology has become rather essential. Brands realize that using influencerscan allow them to reach a quality audience rather than a quantity audience. Influencermarketing has different advantages for brands. First, it allows them to developtheir notoriety. The brand conveys a message to the influencer who relays it tothe community (targeted audience). Second, it allows them to interact withtheir community because the influencer is the direct link between the brand andits customers.
It is well connected as the community reacts very quickly to sharetheir opinion. This allows the company to react in real time whilst actingefficiently. Third, the brand discovers a new form of communication that isless intrusive in the lives of consumers. It enhances its brand image due tothe influencers confidence in the product which bestows recommendations to theirfollowers. Fourth, the partnership with an influencer allows the brand toincrease its sales.
The influencer is a figure of confidence for the potentialbuyer. The buyer feels reassured to be able to rely on the advice of someoneoutside of the brand. Fifth, the target maintains an emotional connection withthe influencer that it follows. It is therefore important to choose aninfluential person with a strong commitment to their community. The objectiveis to seduce the target audience so that the emotional connection extends tothe brand. If the influencer likes the products and talks about them in anatural way, they will manage to get them implemented by the target.
The profitability of apartnership between a brand and an influencer can be measured by the number of ‘like’statistics and commentaries on the social media of the influencer. It can also be measured by the number ofpurchases made by new customers or the number of visitors to the website duringthe partnership period. It is important for brands to determine whichinfluencers are most relevant.
However, Influence is a difficult factor tomeasure but it is possible to measure a good amount of influence according todifferential criteria. Brands should first determine the reach of the messageand audience potential. It should then consider the level of audienceengagement on each of the visual or articles broadcast and finally therelevance of the message to the brand’s objectives and audience interests. Manyplatforms exist to guide brands to influential people. They can target thepersonality that best matches the brand and its positioning.
This results inthe recruitment of a brand ambassador, who will embody the brand in anadvertisement. It also helps find a digital influence that will make productplacement, sponsored posts or brand content. An example of this would be the brandAdidas who understood this strategy very well and contracted the footballplayer Lionel Messi as ambassador of the brand. Adidas also chose digitalinfluencers such as Hannah Bronfman, personal trainer Zanna van Dijk, coach& writer Robin Arzon and retired tennis star Ana Ivanovic. All of these individualsare significantly influential on social networks and have many subscribers.Also in the field of sport, they are a real asset for the brand. Influencer marketingcan have an impact or it ‘sit’ alongside to some of the discussions that have beenstudied in conferences or tutorials. Indeed, augmented reality may be a way offinding new influencers.
However, it is up to companies and brands to find themby following current trends. Forexample, in the case of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality application launchedin the summer of 2016. The goal is simply to find and catch Pokémon all aroundthe world. This was a real opportunity for street-side gable companies.
Thiswas due to Poke stops, having a Poke stop near a point of sale, would allow benefitsfrom the route followed by Poké trainers resulting in an increase in visibilityrate. For example, the McDonalds Japan franchise. The franchises 3000 storesbecame “Pokémon Go arenas” and their Poké customers could benefitfrom special discounts. This opportunity was also recognised by the Americanvideo game chain Game stop, which announced that “its sales had increasedby 100% thanks to the new star of mobile games”. Elsewhere, virtualreality is also related to influencer marketing. Defined as “all thetechniques and systems that give mankind the feeling of penetrating syntheticworlds created on the Internet”, virtual reality is undoubtedly amarketing progression for brands. It enables individuals to carry out actionsthrough various computer programmes by stimulating their senses. Augmentedreality can be a real benefit to consumers.
It allows them to put a product ina situation to visualize it in their living environment. Different brands have begunto use virtual reality. This is the case of the Tesco chain, which has createda virtual supermarket for its customers. This enabled them to rethink theirstores and determine consumer habits and behaviour. Ikea has also developed anapplication; IKEA VR Experience, allowing consumers to design and visualize thekitchen of their dreams in virtual reality.
Influencer marketing is an integralpart of social consumption. Today, people are connected and influencermarketing keeps them up to date with the latest trends. When someone sees a producton an influencer, they want the same product because they want to look like them. Further, when creatingan organisation in fashion or retail, like ASOS, influencer marketing canaffect its process of going to market. It can have a negative effect if theorganisation does not make the correct choices.
When choosing influencermarketing one has to be careful because one can make mistakes very quickly.Some influencers use strange means to generate clicks and traffic and are not honest.Others are unreliable because they have no real need of achievement or success.
It is also possible that some influencers may have a negative impact on thecampaign leading to negative feedback. On the other hand, the company must bevery careful not to make mistakes such as not researching the potentialinfluencers, ignoring the law, criticizing or restraining an influencer. Forsome celebrities it becomes difficult to reach their target because they haveless and less impact on their community. Therefore, reinforcing the idea ofchoosing an influencer who truly respects and clicks with the brand. It istherefore suggested to recruit micro-influencers rather than macro-influencers.who have a huge number of subscribers, because their responsiveness is greaterand they generate commitment. It is a strategy that the company has adoptedbecause it possesses influencers called “ASOS insiders”. However,each of these errors can be avoided if the upstream work is well executed.
Further, if the follow-up is good, there is only positives for the organisation.Indeed, each individual identifies them self with the influencer they follow.This allows the brand to leave its mark on the market by increasing itsvisibility. The right choice of the influencer can also lead to an instant credibilityin the interactive community. It is more discreet and a less aggressive form ofadvertising for the consumer as they view the posts as recommendations. Thebrand also obtains a better return on investment due to a lower advertisingcost when compared to standard advertising.
Influencer marketing can also influenceand affect the marketing process of each organisation. Generation Y is verypresent on social networks and this is reflected in its purchasingbehaviour. That’s why influencermarketing is very effective in the fashion and retail sector but also operatesin other sectors such as automotive and aviation. In the future, it will evolveand it will require a few improvements such as more regulation, moreauthenticity and higher costs. Influencers will need to become truly aware ofthe impact of their activities on consumers because they are being trusted andsometimes deceived. To conclude, marketing has evolved over the years andhas gone through different eras.
These eras (modernism, post-modernism, meta-modernism)have played a major role in the development of different art forms,mentalities, lives of individuals and technological progress. Presently,society seeks to respond to as much as possible to its arising needs through useof new inventions or new means. The emergence of social networks has led to therise of influential marketing. It allows companies to communicate viainfluencers on different platforms; this is an emerging theme and a currenttrend.
This subject is of interest due to the number of individuals experiencingit on a daily basis. For a brand or organisation, it is now very important toallocate a budget for influencer marketing. It is necessary to be aware of howto be present on social networks and how to recruit appropriate influencer thatwill increase visibility and boost sales.
In the future, influencer marketingstill needs to evolve in order to be truly recognised and its influencers needto become more aware of their role amongst consumers. Influencers will also haveto remain authentic and be more aware of their role with consumers. Finally, influencermarketing could then be followed by “shop-able advertising” wherecustomers could buy products directly through advertising.