Who do shoppers turn to for style tips, fashion advice, and product recommendations? Social media influencers have recently captured the number one spot on the list of reliable fashion idea sources, displacing family and friends, who’d long held the primary position. 500 female shoppers between the ages of 18-34 were interviewed, with 41% reporting, they rely primarily on online influencers.
What does this mean for your business? Like any change in consumer behavior, the switch to prioritizing influencer opinions overviews held by family and friends is a mixed blessing. On the positive side of the equation, retailers and brands have many opportunities to connect with customers via social media. There are influencers on every platform, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube; and their powerful recommendations can be purchased. Influencers have proven to be very effective at connecting with younger shoppers, particularly Gen Z and younger Millennials. It is much easier to have an influencer to advocate for your brand than it is to convince an individual’s sphere of personal connections that you’re the place to shop.
On the downside, there are a number of negatives you’ll want to be aware of. The price may be high – Digiday reports influencers with fewer than 50,000 followers can charge $250 per post whereas big name stars like Kim Kardashian charges a quarter million per post – and there’s no guarantee that your influencer won’t engage in bad behavior and get your brand caught up in the backlash. Retailers and brands need to do an exceptional level of due diligence and be sure of the type of content the influencer in question creates before obligating themselves to an ongoing relationship.
Finally, there’s still value to be found in the recommendations of family and friends on specific types of fashion purchases. This is especially true for what would be considered major purchases: wedding apparel, fine jewelry, and high-end men’s wear represent areas where in-person recommendations carry a disproportionate amount of weight. Savvy retailers will bring those in-person recommendations into digital spaces to provide an appealing blend.