By Alec Harden-Henry, Commercial Director, Influence Network.
You don’t have to go that far to find examples of brands successfully targeting demographics that would historically have been thought atypical.
Nintendo targeting a games console at families. The NFL launching a $10m campaign towards their female viewers. Apple discovering, and embracing, the fact that their biggest spenders are not tech-happy millennials, but actually pensioners, over 65 years of age.
Some of this is a culture correction. Of course both sexes can enjoy any given sport and of course any age range can benefit from an iPad. Big companies historically have just not thought like that and it can take some form of sea change to open their eyes to the possibilities, if only they could get past the stereotyping and preconceptions.
It’s a much quoted statistic that, based on the trend line of its growth to date, influencer marketing as a sector is set to double in size over the course of the next two years or so. That is a sea change.
The doubling in size means that more brands will be engaging in influencer marketing, fleshing out their strategy and using influencers to reach their target audience. As they do so and knowledge of influencer marketing spreads into those brands, one of the things we’ll see in the marketplace is brands redefining who they consider their target audience.
Again, some of this will be culture correction. And in other ways it will be brands waking up to the fact that they can now reach any audience they want to and drive their buying behaviour, even if that means that those audiences will be purchasing from the brand for the very first time.
Influencer marketing, done correctly, is hyper-targeted.
If you want to work with a male vegan influencer with a passion for running then you can. That influencer has very specific interests and so do his audience. That allows brands to perfect their messaging, refining what they want to say, because they better understand and control who they are saying it to.
If you’re Apple and you work with that influencer then your message could be around fitness and sustainability, featuring the Apple Watch and the influencer using a vegan app, like Happy Cow. If Apple work with a car influencer then maybe the message is more around the iPad dock in the rear seats, allowing the kids to stay entertained and the driver to enjoy the sensation of driving in relative silence… For older users maybe Apple would choose to work with a later life rights advocate, highlighting how Facetime can keep people connected.
Imagine a message targeted enough and influencer marketing is helping brands to successfully reach that audience with that message.
The impact of this change in approach and market can have a tangible impact on a brand’s bottom line, which is why we’ll see the sector grow and grow. Brands pay attention to things with genuine potential to deliver triple-digit growth. Opening up new audiences does exactly that.
As a practical example consider the brand we’re currently working with. They’re a high-end producer of a luxury product, which has historically only ever been purchased by an over-50s demographic. For the first time in the brand’s history they are successfully lowering that glass-ceiling age barrier, by using influencers to make the product appeal to an audience in their 30s, 40s and below.
There’s no danger to the brand of losing their existing audience (their existing audience is unlikely to see the campaigns they’re running, because they’re hyper-targeted), so the outcome is a whole new demographic of buyers, opened up to the brand, virtually overnight.
Talk to any Chief Marketing Officer at any major brand and suggest that there is a not-so-secret way they can reach entirely new demographics without materially altering their product and you will get some very interested reactions.
That interest is driving some of the current growth within the influencer marketing sector. It will drive more over the next 12 months and it will ultimately lead to more and more brands rethinking who their target market is and how much of that target market they can successfully influence.