Trends 18: Will the Influencer Bubble Burst?

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Katie Young / December 06, 2017

As our Instagram feeds become clogged with a host of celebrities telling us to visit this hotel and try that beauty product, it’s clear that many marketers have been allured by influencer marketing. In our new Trends 18 report (download a free copy here), we consider whether this buzzworthy trend will be a sustainable strategy for brands.

It makes sense that consumers are more likely to buy something if it’s mentioned to them by someone they find inspirational, than if it’s pushed artificially in an ad. But influencer marketing may not be as future-proofed as it sounds. As more brands jump on the bandwagon, promotional content is beginning to clutter up newsfeeds and there’s a chance that audiences will become disengaged. Just as they turned to ad-blockers when sites were overloaded with ads, there’s the risk that they’ll turn away from influencers in the same way.

There’s also little sign in our data that this is or is becoming a major route to reach consumers. While it could be argued that it’s harder for consumers to recognize when they’ve been influenced by or exposed to an influencer (as opposed to a TV or print ad), it’s still just 14% of digital consumers who say they discover brands via celebrity endorsements and this figure has remained steady over the past couple of years – despite the influx of influencer posts. Figures peak slightly among 16-24s, but even here its impact is limited when compared to other strategies like advertising.

With the supply and demand of influencers at an all-time high, it’s starting to lose its personal touch and brands need to be prepared for a potential backlash against influencers who aren’t authentic. The key is to focus on sincerity and build long-term relationships with only those who fit with their messaging.