The new face of luxury influencers

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A growing awareness of the increasing presence and importance of influencers has circulated the fashion and beauty industry for some time. Thanks to the colossal rise of digital savvy influencers such as Victoria Magrath, Estee Lalonde, We are Twinset and Lily Pebbles, among others, the need for a balance between influencer marketing and traditional press office is quickly accelerating.

 

But what about other industries? Interiors influencers are currently booming – take the likes of Kate Watson-Smyth, for example. And what about the luxury market? Incorporating everything from design and travel to alcohol and supercars, this looks to be the most experimental sector, as a recent report undertaken by Fashion & Beauty Monitor revealed. In fact, the report states that 73% of luxury brands already have an active influencer marketing strategy in place – 65% agree it is an effective one.

 

Above: digital-savvy Instagram stars such as (l-r) Victoria Magrath, We are Twinset and Lily Pebbles have led to the meteoric rise of fashion influencers

 

To find out more, our Izzy delved into the report to bring you its key findings…

 

Budgets are rising

 

As it says on the tin – luxury brands are now allowing for greater budgets for PR agencies and teams to experiment within the social media stratosphere. 66% of brands questioned expect these budgets to rise “significantly” throughout 2018, encouraging even greater influencer activity. But what does this mean for the brands involved? Budgets don’t often miraculously appear from nowhere. Cuts may have to be made elsewhere – advertising, photography, styling, and so forth. It’s a bit of a catch-22; as budgets rise, so will the cost of partnerships.

 

Finding the right influencer

 

The most successful influencer collaborations are down to the identification of the right partnership. Brands understand their audience, and their selected influencer needs to reflect that. There’s no point marketing fine jewellery to an influencer whose focus is budget looks. With this in mind, 44% of brands asked in Fashion & Beauty Monitor’s report noted that this was their greatest concern when approaching an influencer project.

 

When browsing for influencers, it’s worth brands remembering it’s not just about the numbers. A high follower count is one thing, but how many users engage with their posts? Take a look at some recent snaps – how many likes and comments have they got? And how many times has said influencer responded? This allows brands to estimate the kind of return they may receive.

 

But when you do get it right? Magic happens. Take Ricki Hall’s longstanding relationship with B&O PLAY, for example. His candid headphone shots regularly receive 4000+ likes from his 342,000 followers. Similarly, Silhouette recently collaborated with JosieLDN – and within just an hour of an image being shared, had garnered over 2500 likes (and counting). It goes for any sector – luxury or not – but be wary of influencers whose followers are in the tens of thousands, but are only receiving 50 or 60 likes per post at most.  Even the most Instagram-phobic of us could achieve that…possibly.

 

Above: some recent shots from Silhouette’s collaboration with JosieLDN

 

….or even, finding the right ‘micro-influencer’

 

A micro-influencer offers brands something slightly different – these influencers have established an exclusive niche for themselves. The attraction won’t be their number of followers, but rather their creative or artistic edge, and their devoted, authentic audience. The end result? An incredibly high return on investment.

 

Creative control: the ultimate power struggle

 

The report revealed that one of the toughest challenges brands face when partnering with an influencer for the first time is the process of handing over creative control. 59% admitted this.

 

Letting go of creative control to a social media influencer is still a big risk for luxury brands, and requires a complete overhaul in mindset and culture. Many high-end brands have indeed worked hard to create their signature style over a period of time – and, let’s face it, no one likes change. This does, however, demonstrate the importance of working with the right influencers who are respectful of the brand, and who can be trusted with creative freedom.

 

On the flip side, some brands engage with influencers for this very reason. Our very own Bisque and Victoria + Albert Baths recently partnered with our pals at 2lovelygays, who styled their respective products in their quintessentially quirky fashion. Alongside a collective reach of 3,260 likes on Instagram alone, the images created by 2LG have been shared by leading publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and The Sunday Times. Plus, said images create the ‘holy grail’ of content for certain brands: web traffic.

 

Above: examples from recent collaborations between Bisque and Victoria + Albert Baths with 2lovelygays

 

So…now what?

 

Well, there’s no doubt that traditional print media is finding itself competing with the rise of digital influencers. One need only look at the slowly declining sales figures from major publishing houses – and increasing number of Instagram users – to recognise this.

 

However, for many luxury brands, it could be suggested that those who are still reading mags reflect their incredibly affluent customer base. And, as evident above, the toughest task ahead of luxury brands to select the right influencer – one who reflects your target market, and will reach it – is paramount.

 

There’s an argument to be had on both sides – nothing quite like sitting on the fence, eh?

 

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