Arguably, seemingly relatable influencer marketing is beginning to lose its lustre. Impacted by the Federal Trade Commission’s compliancy regulations, fraudulent follower numbers, data privacy scandals, and controversial sponsored posts – such as a recent Instagram post by Kim Kardashian West promoting appetite suppressant lollipops to her millions of followers – it’s no surprise that over a third of consumers feel that influencer marketing is damaging to society. Even brands are beginning to backlash against influencers, with a Dublin luxury hotel going as far as banning all bloggers from its premises after receiving collaboration requests in exchange for free stays.
As our highly individualised and increasingly demanding consumer culture continues to grow, the concept of a celebrity or influencer peddling a product will become less effective – instead, consumers want to be educated and inspired in other ways. They will make purchases informed by independent research, recommendations from online communities and sub-forum exchanges with fellow product aficionados – something we’re already witnessing with the revival of Facebook Groups. Elsewhere, the rise of eco-influencers points to a priority shift from displays of affluence to activism.
As a recent Nielsen survey revealed, 83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over advertising, while word-of-mouth impressions drive sales five-times greater than the equivalent number of paid impressions, according to a report from WOMMA. As a result, even major PR firms such as Edelman are taking note, integrating online forums such as Reddit into their PR strategies.
So, are we over influencers? Certainly, consumers have wised up to their less-than-authentic output. The rise of IRL recommendations, and expectations of honesty and transparency from brands, mean that as consumers use their own initiative to make purchases, the future of influencers might shift towards championing a cause rather than consumerism.
For more on the future marketing tactics of brands, read our Beyond Product Placement micro trend.