From the furore surrounding the Fyre Festival debacle to the introduction of new rules around social media paid-for posts, influencers have dominated the headlines recently, yet new research suggests the scale and impact of influencer adoption is overestimated. The ‘The Retail Social Proof Barometer’ by Fresh Relevance, the real-time personalisation platform, reveals that only 22% of retail brands surveyed use influencers as part of their web and email marketing strategies. Moreover, only one in ten UK consumers have purchased a product based on a recommendation made by an influencer.
The study combines consumer research conducted by One Poll and desk-based research of 50 leading UK retailers. It highlights that nearly two thirds (62%) of consumers don’t actively follow influencers and less than a third (32%) would actually be more interested in a brand if they were using influencers to promote their product. Retailers that are using this tactic as part of their marketing strategies could in fact be impacting performance and their customer relationships, as almost half (44%) of respondents said they wouldn’t trust any product information being provided by influencers.
The research indicates that the effect influencers have on shopping behaviour differs by generation.
Over half (60%) of Generation Z surveyed (18-24 year olds) and a similar number (52%) of Millennials (25-34 year olds) are more interested in a brand using influencers, compared with just 14% of the Baby Boomer demographic (over 55s). Generation Z are particularly receptive to influencer marketing when it comes to their look, with 30% actively following beauty and another 30% following fashion influencers.
Across the retail sector there is varied adoption of influencer marketing tactics online and in emails:
- Half of fashion brands surveyed use influencer endorsement, whilst slightly fewer (40%) footwear retailers do so
- Just 20% of brands surveyed in the jewellery/accessories sector are using influencers
- Whilst 12% of consumers are actively following beauty influencers, none of the beauty brands surveyed have adopted this as part of their web and email marketing
- Similarly, 10% of consumers follow influencers in the consumer electronics sector but there hasn’t been any brand uptake
Mike Austin, CEO & co-founder of Fresh Relevance, comments: “Influencer marketing has been on the news agenda for a while now, but it’s not an accurate account of what’s happening in the retail sector. Our research indicates few retailers are actually using influencers to engage consumers, and
only a small proportion of shoppers are interested in seeing influencers promoting products.
“Social proof is a powerful part of brand marketing, and consumers see it as an important aspect of their decision to purchase, but this doesn’t mean retailers should be automatically adopting celebrity or influencer endorsement within their marketing strategies. Where a celebrity might be relevant and beneficial for certain brands, in other instances using an influencer could even have a detrimental impact on building consumer trust."
“The research highlights that social proof doesn’t have to mean expensive celebrity marketing. In fact, consumer engagement and interest is often driven more by other tactics, such as product star ratings, user-generated content and product popularity messaging, which are scalable, easy to implement and offering untapped revenue potential. For retailers truly looking to engage consumers they must understand the types of social proof tactics available, and map these to customer data insights to identify what’s going to be effective in meeting consumer expectations.”