A report from Influencer Intelligence reveals its latest research report exploring the attitudes and perceptions of young consumers towards digital influencers.
It follows on the heels of the Influencer Marketing 2020 report, which is a study of the digital marketer’s view on influencer marketing.
The new report explores:
The influence of social media content creators
The value of micro and mid-tier talent
The most important attributes of an influencer
Influencers versus celebrities
Sponsorship disclosures and credibility
The way young people perceive digital influence is critical to the future of influencer marketing. Brands are aware that they are having to work harder and smarter than ever before to connect and engage with today’s youth who are a savvy, forward-thinking generation, taking world issues and ethical matters seriously. For influencer marketing to keep pace, it needs to be sincere and tap into the areas of influence that really matter to this group of consumers.
Influencers offer the biggest opportunity for new independent brands
An approximately six in 10 of the digital marketers surveyed, the purpose influencer marketing serves for their business has changed in the last 12 months, with 56% claiming the younger generation of consumers is proving the biggest driver of change. Young people have come to more firmly reject the way that influencer marketing has been done over the past few years and are instead demanding higher levels of authenticity and relevance.
In addition, young people have seen social media influencers get it wrong too often and be publicly ridiculed for their mistake; which means the novelty of having ‘influence’ and their appetite for this has waned. Consequently, the digital-born generation is now more passionate about other things, such as the environment, and for them to remain switched-on to influencer content, there must be strong evidence of organic advocacy. Brand and influencer collaborations cannot seem too forced or commercially engineered, and and it is crucial that there is already some natural affinity to the brand.
Mid-tier influencers hold the most appeal to the younger generation
The millennial generation today represents the world’s most powerful group of consumers: a moment that has been tensely anticipated by brands and businesses. This group has reached what economists call “the most important age range for economic activity”, when properties are purchased, babies are born, and money is spent on household purchases as well as lifestyle. Global millennial spending power is forecast to overtake Generation X by 2020 and will continue to rise. Technology and the internet are also core to this group of individuals, and those at the latter end of the age spectrum have grown up with social media and smartphones being an intrinsic part of their daily lives. It is critical, therefore, that digital marketers embrace the tastes and preferences, and content consumption habits of this generation, and ensure this sits at the heart of all influencer marketing programmes moving forward.
79% of consumers prefer influencer content to celebrity endorsements
It is telling that 28% of respondents say that influencer content has persuaded them to clickthrough and buy a product immediately, which they otherwise wouldn’t have bought. However, 41% also say they have turned to the opinions of digital influencers to help them research or finalise a purchase decision. The consumer decision journey today is far less linear and more complicated than it ever has been, and there is a rising trend for consumers to actively ‘pull’ information helpful to them about a brand or product, which influencers can be very useful with.
78% of consumer respondents agree that they are more likely to click on a product link endorsed by an influencer they follow, indicating how important influencer marketing has become as a touchpoint within the consumer decisionmaking process and proving that influencers have the potential to trigger the impulse to purchase. This creates a strong case for brands to invest in influencer marketing, if they aren’t already, and direct their spending towards these key moments of influence.
The transparency of influencer collaborations concerns the industry and consumers alike. Just as 65% of industry marketers admit there is a blurry line between advertisements and genuine, organic recommendations there is similar audience scepticism, with 66% of consumers agreeing that paid-for influencer content is no different to advertising. Over the years, as the influencer landscape has mushroomed it has become increasingly difficult to navigate, and consumers above all want to be clear on when an endorsement or review has been paid for or sponsored. Encouragingly for brands, 54% of consumers “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that sponsorship disclosures such as #ad and #spon are unlikely to take away from the credibility of a post providing the partnership is genuine.
43% of consumers admit they find it hard to trust influencer recommendations due to the lack of clarity around whether the content is sponsored. Experts interviewed for the Influencer Marketing 2020 report agree that much can be done to improve clarity around disclosure guidelines, to keep pace with the industry as new tools and technologies emerge. While guidelines are set by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US, experts claim there is a clear case for firmer rules, which would help to improve levels of trust particularly within the industry.
The Influencer Marketing 2020 report, published recently by Influencer Intelligence, found that for 56% of industry respondents, the digital-native generation of customers is proving the biggest driver of change. The opinions of this generation of customer really matter, and the survey findings point strongly towards the need for authenticity and transparency in brand collaborations moving forward, for this sector of marketing to be sustainable. As Bexy Cameron, Head of Insight at Amplify, argues: “Brands should be the champions of authenticity. If they are brave and start to portray people realistically, especially in the UK where we have a progressive-thinking set of young people, it will really pay dividends.” However, influencers must strive for authenticity also, or their young audiences will ‘switch off’, and they will lose the opportunity for future commercial deals. A new wave of influencers are gradually filtering through who are more careful to work only with brands where there is natural affinity, and who also take their ethical responsibility towards their youth audience very seriously, being careful to offer content that is honest and ‘unfiltered’. With the abundance of research available to demonstrate the strong links between social media and mental health, for example, the next stage of influencer marketing needs to be characterised by greater truth and substance, which truly adds value to the young consumer particularly. Ultimately, the 18 to 34 years demographic is challenging brands to work harder at their influencer marketing, taking the time to forge well-thought-out relationships, and carrying out the necessary due diligence to ensure the influencer’s following is legitimate. Although there has been talk of a backlash within this demographic against influencer culture, this generation is clearly still receptive to listen to the opinions of influencers, providing content is disclosed for what it is.
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