What is the new normal for Influencer Marketing?

During COVID-19, our mindsets and consumptions dramatically changed. Brands are wondering how they can be resilient, stay strong and adapt to survive in this new world order.

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We have seen influencer marketing make incredible strides towards growing up and becoming a legitimate practice. It is now viewed as one of the most powerful tools that marketers have at their fingertips to deliver brand purpose and build communities.

Influencer Marketing is the key to brands navigating the new normal as it’s adaptability has proven that it will continue to thrive.

Influencer Marketing is the New Normal

COVID-19 has created huge shifts in our behaviour, and we won’t be reverting. Brands must acknowledge the changes and adapt to them.

The behaviour changes from the pandemic have reshaped consumer decision journeys. Consumers are now 30% more likely to make their purchases online in 2020 than they were in 2019 [McKinsey], and they are likely to seek out and prioritise brands and influencers that acted compassionately during this crisis. Because of this, online retail sales are estimated to reach an eye-watering $6.5 trillion by 2023.

COVID has meant we have covered a “decade in days” in the adoption of digital. Social media consumption is up. US citizens spend 215% more time on mobile devices in 2020 than they did in 2019 [Nielsen].

On the flip side, TV audiences sizes are in decline within key demographics 16–34 and the wider audience set to diminish by 15–20% before 2022 [Equibty]. Gen Z is social-first and is consuming way more YouTube or TikTok than television.

In this new “stay at home economy,” people’s interests have changed. The popularity of short-form videos and apps like TikTok, which are fun and entertaining, have skyrocketed. The short-video app added more than 12 million US unique visitors in March, reaching 52.2 million, up nearly 50% since January.

It’s clear that influencer marketing is no longer an ‘add on’ it is now fundamental to your business strategy. It is seen as the key channel in the new normal to win with Gen Z and foster trust and loyalty.

TAKUMI was able to demonstrate the power of influencer marketing at the height of lockdown. We worked to promote the exclusive partnership between Häagen-Dazs and Secret Cinema — ‘Secret Sofa’.

The campaign’s primary objectives were to drive awareness of the new Secret Sofa initiative, drive brand consideration and positive sentiment for Häagen-Dazs as well as build sales conversion on Amazon Prime.

TAKUMI activated twenty-four nano and micro-influencers across Instagram and TikTok to produce creator-led content and actions every week in alignment with the chosen film and the corresponding flavour.

The campaign was a huge success and brought entertainment and ice cream into people’s homes during an incredibly difficult time. By working with influencer’s, Secret Sofa created a new cultural moment which brought communities together at a socially distanced time.

Marketers now recognise the value of influencer marketing. Our latest whitepaper found that marketers see the ROI potential in influencer marketing. Over 60% of marketers agree influencer marketing provides the best ROI for brand marketing campaigns, compared with traditional advertising.

Unlike other channels, influencer Marketing is the only channel where an audience opts in to view content; the audience chooses to follow an influencer for who they are, their content, values and beliefs.

Inspiration

Gen Z consumes content differently to previous generations. 82% of Gen Z make their decision to purchase whilst seeking inspiration, and they are inspired by culturally credible content.

Young people are much more driven by thinking a brand represents themselves and their beliefs. They buy when they feel like the brand connects with their values. 57% of Gen Z and Millennials are more discerning and look for branded content that is culturally relevant.

We’re living in a ‘Passion Economy’. No longer are we buying on product specifications and price, but when seeking inspiration. With the shift in how we seek inspiration, brands will be speaking to citizens, not consumers. Delivering on your ‘brand purpose’ will involve much stronger links with communities going forward, helping the most vulnerable through this period of economic hardship will be key for brands.

In order, to create culturally relevant content, marketers need to look at a creator’s first approach. Creators are subject matter experts and professional entertainers. They have strong insights about their subject areas and deeply understand different platforms and online spaces.

These creators connect strongly with their audiences and are becoming culture partners to brands who are struggling to navigate cultural agendas and complex marketing landscapes — they can help set the agenda for long term business objectives.

Influence with Purpose

Influencer marketing has served a much nobler purpose during this difficult period than just promoting products to consumers. It has been a powerful way to add light and levity into a scary, tough situation, which we are still facing.TAKUMI launched a multimarket pro-bono campaign to help support the public’s mental health during the unprecedented times that many were facing. Pro-bono work was a valuable way we could lend our skills, knowledge, and relationships to support local communities.

#TheMindfulMovement was set up to ensure that anyone following social distancing measures was kept in the loop with the latest coronavirus updates, and the best tips to protect their mental health whilst being at home.

The campaign saw over 185 creators across the globe join the movement, where our creators encouraged mindfulness across Instagram and TikTok by showcasing what they were doing to look after their mental health whilst in lockdown for example; sharing exercise tips, homeschooling stories, good books to read or in general checking in with their communities.

It was a great example of how influencers can be used to generate trustworthy and positive information that can play an important role in protecting public health. The content made people smile and helped them tackle isolation, anxiety and boredom during lockdown.

More than ever, social media needs to be carefully considered as a source of entertainment, creativity, positivity and credible, factual information for brands and marketers to tap into.

Influencers can help drive targeted messages and interact with consumers in an empathetic way, no matter what the current needs or mood of the public is, making them ideal for sharing key messages and advice during these difficult times.

Influencer Marketing has entered the mainstream and should now be a key part of brands strategies. However, it is important not to lose sight of who is at the heart of Influencer Marketing; the creators.

For brands to create authentic and meaningful campaigns, they must have a creator first approach. Creators understand their audiences and are at the cutting edge of culture.

Creators do not view their followers as consumers they see then as their friends, their students, and their family; they will make content that puts them at the centre of the storyline.

If you would like to learn more about how TAKUMI can help you with Influencer Marketing, please get in touch at hello@takumi.com.