Future of influencer marketing takes shape amidst coronavirus pandemic
With trips and events cancelled, marketing budgets frozen and campaigns postponed or scrapped, the fashion industry has halted production and seen its commercial activities restricted due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Confined in their houses, influencers have been forced to reinvent themselves and propose new content for brands and followers hungry for escapism, encouragement and even company during the international fight against the coronavirus pandemic. With reference to data analysis specialist Launchmetrics' annual "The State of Influencer Marketing 2020" report, FashionNetwork.com examines how strategies are changing in the age of Covid-19.
"Since the beginning of this crisis, brands are evolving from a product-focused communication line to reinforcing the intangible values of their brand," explains Launchmetrics CEO Michael Jaïs. "Influencers' sponsored content has slowed in the past two months and authenticity is now translated into valuable, transparent content that is much closer and responds better to consumer needs right now," he commented in reference to the activities being carried out in the atmosphere of uncertainty currently enveloping the industry.
Jaïs went on to point out that now might be the time for brands to strengthen relations with consumers, offering them something "that goes far beyond fashion or the product itself," while working to "analyze and measure what their needs are in order to maximize the result of each and every brand action."
At a time when consumers are taking a step back from purchases, the study highlights that brands and content creators are facing the challenge of playing a simultaneously social and responsable role that responds to consumers' current needs with "transparent" and "sincere" content. This paradigm shift has been reflected in the significant drop in sponsored content published by influencers week over week since the end of February, with paid content of this kind having slipped from representing 35% of total posts to a paltry 4% in this time.
Exercise routines, cooking classes and concerts: brands and influencers reinvent themselves during quarantine
Faced with the unprecedented situation, both brands and influencers have had to adapt creatively in order to produce suitably valuable content. Inditex-owned sports and leisure wear brand Oysho, for example, has teamed up with influencers to produce workshops and classes offering consumers exercise and yoga routines.
A number of luxury brands, such as Gucci, have handed their Instagram profiles over to influencers, who share fragments of their lives, musical performances, readings and beauty advice. There have also been initiatives concerning hygiene and hand-washing, like the viral TikTok campaign launched by beauty brand E.L.F., or the influencer award ceremony organised by retailer Pretty Little Thing on Instagram.
In this way, two-way communication based on a dialogue and a relationship of trust and relatability between brands, influencers and followers has become more necessary than ever. According to Launchmetrics' analysis, "since the onset of Covid-19, a renewal in the spirit of influencer marketing has reverted to resemble more of its origin – the authentic conversation between creator and community – with influencers returning to a focus on content that truly adds value to the lives of their followers as well as the wider world in general."
This new situation has also pushed influencers to reinvent themselves, adding value to their content through a range of different strategies, such as viral challenges, educational content like training sessions and cooking classes, advice videos, and social engagement.
Future trends in influencer marketing
In light of the continually evolving situation, Launchmetrics predicts a total of six trends for the future of influencer marketing strategies. Firstly, the analyst expects brands to start using more specific metrics, as "engagement" is no longer the only factor determining a campaign's success and return on investment.
Furthermore, consumers will tend to seek out brands that they identify with and these relationships will be strengthened. Launchmetrics therefore predicts that the influencer marketing industry will switch from a top-down focus to a bottom-up strategy, with the development of content as part of collaborations being more directly influenced by creators and direction falling "more significantly in to the influencers' hands."
Brands, in turn, will diversify their strategies in order to meet the needs of a range of consumers and involve all generations. With fewer opportunities to host physical events, brands will also be forced to become their own content creators and better select the voices that will effectively spread their message.
Finally, Launchmetrics pointed out that "whilst it is hard to tell what globalization will look like, it is clear that digital has become a ‘must’ in just one month for the fashion, luxury and beauty industries."
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