Let’s consider the larger macro trends at play here:
1. Authenticity & Transparency
The desire for authenticity and transparency has been with us for several yrs now, it only seems to be growing and rather than being just the domain of millennials it increasingly transcends demographics and is relevant across both on-line and offline worlds. This is set to continue and if anything ramp up in light of the recent political issues surrounding Brexit.
We need to consider what sources of recommendation consumers will be most likely to trust, as larger more well-known bloggers become celebrities themselves, who will be next? How can these opinion leaders be engaged in a meaningful way which offers benefits to them and our brands. In addition it’s important to think about how to best present well known / celebrity Influencers in a stripped down, accessible and authentic manner.
We can see an example of how to address this moving forward within the world of celebrity style. Thanks to social media, the emphasis on ‘authentic’ personal style has never been greater. Meet the super-stylists, the backstage pros changing the way we dress...
‘As the trend for relatable, street-led styles has crept on to the catwalk, so a more utilitarian wearable style has arrived on the red carpet and beyond: the new mood is one of uncompromising realness, stripped of artifice and irrespective of price tags. Arguably, this change is down to social media, where huge audiences look to platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to observe a star’s style offstage as much as their appearance on it. Where a celebrity might once have enthralled with a single red-carpet ensemble, today it’s their daily wardrobe that is subject to constant scrutiny.’ It’s perhaps ironic then that the new focus on “natural” style, the sense that an individual has crafted their look instinctively, is increasingly the work of another.
Beyoncé’s stylists, Senofonte explains... Beyoncé’s “Formation” incarnation is a far cry from the Givenchy nude dress — in crystal-embroidered diaphanous tulle — that she wore to last year’s Met Gala in New York. Although a beautiful gown, it was not exactly everyday wear. Senofonte (who didn’t style the singer for the event) says she feels the need for Beyoncé to look “relatable”.
We need to take a lesson from the way in which celebrity style lists are delivering to this need / trend. The access you give the public to Ambassadors and the way in which they present themselves is key. They need to be authentic versions of themselves, which has implications for a channel perspective in terms of where and how we provide access to them also.
2. The ever increasing importance placed upon P2P recommendation
This is now the most Influential form of advertising. Consumers no longer just look to well-known people as sources of expert knowledge. Peers, contemporaries and everyday people now have more power to Influence and this is set to evolve and continue. Over the past couple of years, consumer trust in brand-driven advertising, including TV ads, company websites, online advertising and editorial content, has been in sharp decline. More than ever, consumers are in control of how they consume content and interact with brands. They are showing increasing preference for the opinion of trusted individuals and Influencers over hearing from the brands themselves.
We need to consider how we use technology and other tools at our disposal to connect consumers with everyday Influencers. How do we place our brands in the mix appropriately?
Consumers are more likely to trust suggestions that come from people they actually know, which is the underlying basis for the recommendations app Tril. The app is designed to allow users to follow people they trust to receive recommendations on books, food and multimedia. This provides a more credible guarantee that the consumer will actually enjoy the product because someone they know with similar tastes is suggesting it to them. Trill is an ideal app for consumers that are seeking genuine suggestions that aren't colored with sponsored content, celebrity endorsements or advertisements. Instead the Tril app lets users follow other users based on similar interests to receive suggestions on a wide variety of products and services.
It’s also about understanding wider networks and not just focusing on the key Influencers - we need to look further down the funnel. Engaging with grassroots Influencers will become ever more important.
Utilising the power of second wave consumer Influencers: 'Brands are focusing too much of their time and effort on getting early adopters and celebrities to engage with and share their video content when they should be concentrating on the “second wave” of Influencers who have the power to make or break a campaign, according to new research.
The study of the sharing patterns of 66 video campaigns found that just one in five managed to motivate second wave Influencers. But of those more than 90% were deemed successful based on reach and engagement. Of the four out of five that did not reach the second wave Influencers only 59% were deemed successful.
"Brands must start looking beyond celebrities such as Kim Kardashian if they really want to create viral campaigns that resonate with audiences." - Thomas Crampton, global managing director of Social@Ogilvy
The findings suggest brands should stop going after celebrities and trying to get them to retweet and instead identify more valuable consumers that are actually interested in the content and the brand. While this might cost more in the short-term, over the longer term brands will see better return on that investment.
A desire for more localised and intimate treatment is another consequence and reaction to globalisation, we see consumers looking to engage with ‘localness’, or at the very least companies who demonstrate a more intimate understanding of who they are and where they come from. Large drinks manufacturers are creating ‘local’ brews and spirits. Sports clothing companies’ trainers for specific areas. Banks setting up on the idea of having local branches.
In a world that can sometimes feel too big and impersonal people are listening to the opinions of those they can trust, often this is people who understand their needs and where they’re coming from. We see an increased need to have smaller numbers of Influencers located nearer to those we wish to influence.
Aveeno’s latest promotional campaign 'Inside and Oat' was a good example of leveraging this strategy. The campaign highlighted the connection between food, health and skin care. In May this year Aveeno invited key Influencers to a launch event and tasked them with using their products over the course of a week in combination with completing a program of exercises and eating recommended foods. Opinion Leaders in the form of beauty bloggers/, vloggers and journalists have been taking part in this trial. What was particularly interesting about this was the regional locations and profile of a number of these opinion leaders.