What real value are influencers bringing to retailers and brands?

Photo: Instagram/@avaphillippe
Jun 28, 2019
Tom Ryan

Amazon.com has teamed up with model, influencer and second-year college student Ava Phillippe to support the second year of its Off-to-College store.

Ms. Phillippe, the daughter of actors Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, will offer her dorm room must-haves from Amazon Home on an “Ava’s Picks” microsite. Amazon wrote in a statement, “Ava’s list was created to help inspire students to transform a drab dorm room or small space into a personalized oasis, without sacrificing comfort or value.

Ms. Phillippe in a statement provided by Amazon praised the ease of shopping through Amazon’s Off-to-College storefront, as well as speedy delivery, exclusive deals and entertainment options that come with her Prime Student membership, according to People magazine. Her Echo enables her to “set reminders I need for class, set alarms, and keep organized.”

The Off-to-College store also features curated style guides from other influencers with themes like “earthy artsy,” “casual throwback,” “modern minimal” and “eclectic chic.” 

Amazon has worked with influencers before. In early June, Amazon launched its first limited-edition streetwear collection under its The Drop distribution model with looks from fashion influencer Paola Alberdi. Looks from other influencers are promised in the future. 

Last year, the retailer notably partnered with Olivia Jade on a college promotion. Ms. Jade’s mother, actress Lori Loughlin, was recently caught in the college admissions bribery scandal.

Amazon also has an influencer program that enables qualified social media influencers to create a page on its site and get paid for linked purchases.

Social influencer marketing has moved beyond linked purchases to retail sites and Instagram pages. Influencers are showing up at in-store events, developing curated pages and appearing in campaigns. Some have launched exclusive collections through Nordstrom, H&M, Bloomingdale’s and Revolve. Major influencers have also collaborated with fashion and beauty brands.

A recent survey of 1,000 vetted fashion influencers registered on SocialPubli.com found that about half of influencers (52 percent) cite sharing their knowledge and love for fashion with their followers as the top reason why they like to work as influencers. Twenty-two percent want to be full-time content creators and 21 percent aspire to launch their own fashion brands in the future.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of using influencers as spokespersons and curators of online style guides in categories such as fashion and home? Do you see influencer content and interaction elevating the online shopping experience?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"The best influencer has always been a satisfied customer."
"Influencers are inspirational, like Pinterest. Everyone needs a little inspiration once in a while."
"Obviously, most of us have “aged out” of this movement but this is the new world of marketing …"

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "What real value are influencers bringing to retailers and brands?"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Amster

Regrettably, it is important in these times, with the upcoming generations. The idea that consumers would need for a celebrity to tell them that they really want to buy this or that product is sad.

Carol Spieckerman

Influencers are an important part of the marketing mix, particularly for digital-forward platforms and brands. Influencers have a way of grounding these companies, bringing products and solutions to life and making brands more relatable. Not everything that matters can be measured.

David Weinand

With the never-ending flood of content and content sources, the influencer is serving as a focused way for fashion lovers to stay on top of trends. I think there have been lessons learned from the early days of influencer marketing and brands are taking a smart approach now to yield better results (e.g. pulling them out of digital and into physical environments). Obviously, most of us have “aged out” of this movement but this is the new world of marketing …

Tom Dougherty

I think retail brands need influencers because their brands basically lack enough intrinsic meaning and importance. Can you imagine Apple needing such things? Enough said.

Lee Peterson

The best influencer has always been a satisfied customer. It makes sense to pay them if you think about it: it’s way better to hear the truth (operative term) straight from a happy customer than a Verizon or Spectrum spokesperson or 30 dancing actors, and it’s cheaper too. I’d just be careful of overdoing it, like any ad campaign. Speak the truth, then get out of my face and let me decide for myself.

Cynthia Holcomb

Amazon needs a few influencers in key lifestyle categories, otherwise shoppers must literally sort through tons of product and still come up empty-handed. Influencers are inspirational, like Pinterest. Everyone needs a little inspiration once in a while. Curation is like shorthand. Done well, the intended customer gets it immediately. Smart — a physical world-like merchandising strategy addressing the sensory limitations of online shopping.

Jeff Sward

It’s interesting that some TV commercials make it a point to call out “actor portrayal” versus “actual customer” (or however they say it). There must be something to “genuine” that is worth talking about.

Sid K. Hasan

Charging a fee for content creation is an unsustainable model. 66,353 images are uploaded to Instagram every 60 seconds and 2 billion images are uploaded to social and the web every day. Kim Kardashian and her sisters did not upload every single one of these. Has the IRS issued W2s to all these influencers?

Alternatives exist – fast followers to the flawed influencer model are gaining momentum.

Jeff Sward – thanks for the text alerting me to this topic.

Heidi Sax

Carefully vetting and using influencers is part of a smart retail marketing strategy, particularly for fashion and home goods. Effective influencer marketing helps reach more prospective shoppers, who can envision a brand’s products as part of a greater lifestyle. That said, influencers themselves can’t elevate a brand’s online shopping experience. That’s another animal. Additionally there are, of course, certain risks associated with influencer marketing. Amazon was left unscathed from the Olivia Jade scandal, but smaller brands need to be aware of risks associated with the influencers they select, as well as have a deep understanding of how credible their audience is and how their existing content is performing.

Lee Kent

You have to cut thru the mustard, so to speak, in some way shape or form and these young people love their celebs. As they age, they will find new ways to find curated goods but still the same, we all like to see curated selections. Makes it easier to see the final product no matter what is being sold. It’s marketing, baby and my 2 cents.

Ken Morris
Ken Morris
Retail industry thought leader
10 months 29 days ago
Younger generations generally research and search out reviews from their friends and social circles before they ever visit a store. In our recent consumer survey found 21% of shoppers aged 37 and under research products and reviews on social media. Smart analytics tools can be leveraged to enable retailers to take into account these personal connections as they plan and merchandise their assortments. Bloggers and YouTubers have become the younger generation’s movie stars and consumers want to emulate them so using them as influencers is a strong way to get visibility to their brand. Using social media and video in this way just adds to the theater of retail as brands look at different ways to bring excitement and entertainment to the off-to-college process. Meijer’s annual “Meijer Mania” where they open the stores to college freshmen for a fun evening of music and activities that also encourages the purchase of dorm and classroom items. IKEA invites students, family members and friends to participate in “College Life Your Way.” This event is meant to inspire students… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar

In short, yes, influencers in certain products categories — fashion and home goods being excellent examples — are going to become more and more important to the overall marketing mix. However, this is really a reflection of the need for better curation in these categories. When you have a nearly infinite number of choices, helping a customer through the discovery process becomes critical or you will lose any sales potential.

I find it fascinating that one person’s influencer is another one’s celebrity. Marketers are focusing their influencer efforts on younger demographics based on the perception that younger consumers no longer appreciate or are swayed by celebrity endorsements — once a staple in marketers toolkits. At what point, however, does an influencer become so influential that they achieve celebrity status? Especially when said influencer is related to a Hollywood celebrity. Retailers must watch that dividing line closely or risk losing any authenticity they would gain from the influencer in the first place.

"The best influencer has always been a satisfied customer."
"Influencers are inspirational, like Pinterest. Everyone needs a little inspiration once in a while."
"Obviously, most of us have “aged out” of this movement but this is the new world of marketing …"

Take Our Instant Poll

How important do you see influencer content and interaction becoming in supporting the online shopping experience for categories such as fashion and home?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...