is a relatively new industry, but it has grown rapidly in recent years and is now an important aspect of many multinational brands' marketing efforts. It is expected to grow to a $15 billion global industry in 2022, up from an estimated value of $1.7 billion in 2016.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is one of the marketing world's fastest-growing sectors. By definition, it's a relationship between a brand and an influencer. The influencer promotes the brand's products or services through various media outlets
(they usually possess knowledge or experience about what they are advertising). It is becoming increasingly popular among brands as a way to broaden their reach, enhance conversions, and raise brand awareness
How did we get here?
When you think about it, influencer marketing
has existed for longer than many of us can recall. People used to rely on what they saw in print ads, radio, and television for product suggestions before social media even existed – but even then, marketers realised that using important 'influencers' in their advertisements may push customer purchase decisions.
For more information on 'traditional advertising', check out our previous blog post here
The Road To Influencer Marketing As We Know It.
Phase 1: Your Majesty
Influencer marketing has existed in the modern era
since the 1930s, but it can even be dated back further than that! For example, the first well-recognised 'influencer' partnership dates to 1760 when Josiah Wedgwood, a British potter, created a tea set for King George III's wife. The artwork was so well-done it got the 'stamp of approval' from the Queen herself, the ultimate influencer at the time. With the Queens' approval, Wedgwood's business grew immensely as everyone wanted a piece of his work, showing just how influential the Queen's opinion was.
Phase 2: Celebrities and Fictional Characters
As time went on, more brands started following the influencer marketing tactic to appeal to consumers in ways that traditional advertising could not. And this brought in the next wave of influencers, as celebrities and fictional characters
were introduced to brands with the aim of marketing products to the general consumer.
The earliest instance of celebrity endorsement, as mentioned earlier, was that of the Queen of Great Britain. However, for years after, celebrities became more and more involved in marketing.
And then we have fictional characters. In the 1930s, Coca-Cola began using the image of Santa Claus in its Christmas print commercials, which soon became the most popular use of fictional characters during that time. As a kind and grandfatherly figure, Santa drew the attention of both young and old customers, especially during the Great Depression, when sales were at an all-time low. Santa's cheery image served up happiness, and promoted beverage sales, in an otherwise dreary time.
As time went on, popular characters and celebrities became more and more involved, and it became what we know today: influencer marketing. However, a shift began when consumers no longer solely trusted the opinion of celebrities
; consumers wanted 'real people' with honest opinions.
Phase 3: Just your average pal
has been challenged by Millennials and Gen Z, resulting in a shift in influencer culture as we know it. They need social proof before buying anything. They want to see people like them enjoying a product before they're convinced. As a result, marketers are increasingly turning to 'average' people to support their products rather than celebrities.
Consumers trust 'ordinary' individuals more than celebrities since they are more approachable and understandable. Consumers can relate to the information they share because their lifestyles aren't extravagant – instead, they are relatable. They have genuine voices and a knack for connecting with their audience.
Phase 4: The rise of the influencer
Everyone leaped at the possibility to share their daily lives online as social media
sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube developed. Famous people, such as celebrities, reality TV stars, and even bloggers, have amassed a large following on social media as a result of their existing fame. However, due to their extremely entertaining material and personal connections with their fans, a new phenomenon quickly emerged: a few 'ordinary' people began to amass significant followings as well.
Thus began what we know today: Influencer marketing.
Compared to celebrities and even reality TV stars, and besides the edited/'perfect world' they sometimes portray, we still feel influencers are relatable. They don't all live in opulent mansions or travel in private planes. Instead, they provide relatable content about their lives and the good, bad, and ugly moments in between.
It's safe to say we're at the peak of influencer marketing. Today, digital communities rule the world of commerce and at the top of each community, you'll find influencers