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Keywords: marketing,
influencers, consumers, communication, brands, Internet, social networks

Firstly, taking into
account the capabilities of a company and its environment, marketing aims to
study all actions and consumer behaviour. This results in a means of action to
adapt the companies commercial proposition to the needs of the consumers. The
objective is to determine the best combination for supply in responding to
demand whilst monitoring the results against the initial objectives. Secondly,
marketing is constantly evolving in order to look for new solutions to meet
consumer demands. Individual developments lead to consecutive developments via
competition and technological progress. In the present day, olfactory
marketing, interactive screens, street marketing, social networks, artificial
intelligence, drones, augmented reality etc. are popular methods. This is also
the case for influencer marketing, an actual evolving trend. The emergence of the
internet and social networks has given rise to a generation of thematic
influencers and influencer marketing allowing brands to benefit, from these
players, for their communication strategy in order to obtain greater
visibility. This essay will first discuss influencer marketing in relation to
marketing theory development. Second, the discussion of influencers industry,
in marketing and how it can influence and affect the process of going to market
for an organisation, will be analysed.

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Society has evolved
through different eras. They have guided marketing towards what it has become
today. First through modernism, then post-modernism and meta-modernism. Modern
society is based around beliefs in science, progress, an objective and independent
reality, the individual etc. Modernism is the movement, that in visual arts,
music and literature, rejected the old Victorian standards that determined the
modes of conception, reception and meaning of the work of art. In the modern
era, individuals live in a structured society where feelings of security and
stability are prevalent. Individuals know where they are and where they stand. In
the late 1960’s, different ideas and cultural currents of the time challenged
the conception of the modern world. Postmodernism is more liberated whilst
being less structured as each individual is free to become who they wish to be
by making decisions that affect them personally. Postmodernism allows individuals
to have different viewpoints whilst following them. It fosters social
constructivism and encourages criticism and questioning. Society is no longer blindly
guided by religious, political or scientific movements. It was present until
the end of the 1980’s and it affected all forms of creation. Meta-modernism
first appeared during the first decade of the 21st century. It attempts to
unify, harmonize and settle the conflict between modernism and postmodernism.
It calls into question the universality and veracity of modernism as well as
the fragmentation and scepticism of postmodernism.  On the other hand, meta-modernism is
constantly evolving by accepting progress, development, thought, hierarchy,
etc.

 

As marketing is
gradually evolving and creating new products with the aim of satisfying
consumer needs and desires. Consumer habits change with time due to fashions
and trends etc. Marketing must stay nimble, reactive and able to engage and
constantly evolve with consumers. To do this, it must determine if some
strategic practices become obsolete and if others are now able to reflect
consumer habits. Some factors are at the root of the change. Demographically,
the world’s population has steadily increased over time. On the other hand,
some demographic trends are emerging, such as the aging of baby boomers, the
transition from cities to suburban areas or the growing acceptance of the gay
community. All these factors have led to a strong demographic transition. The
different economic periods play a major role in household spending. During
times of crisis or recession, consumers want to save their disposable income.
Elsewhere, during a period of expansion, consumers are more inclined to spend.
This was illustrated very well by the subprime crisis in 2007. Further,
cultural beliefs are passed down from generation to generation and each change
has an impact on consumer purchases. Social trends are changing, for example,
single-parent families are increasing whilst hobbies change with time. Therefore,
this creates a new need for new products. Furthermore, technology has significantly
increased which has led to it being a big driving factor for change. The arrival
of the Internet and social networks has led to the emergence of a new means of
communication and a creation of new professions. Presently, everything is
developed around the Internet, this creates competition between brands which leads
to innovation. Almost daily new products are appearing such as connected
objects or smartphones. The opportunities are then multiplied tenfold for
companies that take advantage of this impulse. Consumers discover new needs and
wishes. Over the generations, some trends are more striking than others. These
are megatrends. It is the invention of printing, telephone and possibly the
invention of Internet.

 

 

The changes and
evolution that has taken place in the recent years has had an impact on
consumer buying behaviour. Its needs and expectations have evolved as a result
of various factors such as: the globalisation of markets, technological
progress or competition. Originally consumers are rational maxi-misers, they
mainly seek to meet their needs and maximize their utility (satisfaction). However,
the increase in purchasing power has encouraged consumers to spend more on
leisure. This represents the beginning of materialism for Marx. Indeed, Marxist
principles distinguish between perceived and actual needs. Marketing focuses on
satisfying perceived needs and leads to the emergence of the modern consumer. Individuals
communicate their social identity through various personal goods such as their
car. Each individual shows who they are and what they believe in through the
products and services they consume. However, the rise of the web and the
emergence of social media and networks have empowered consumers. Dialogue
marketing appears which promotes the exchange between the company and the
consumer. Through social media, the modern-day consumer has the power to damage
a company’s reputation or brand, the consumer wants to be listened to and their
opinions to be taken into account.

 

In previous years, brands
have sought to reach and amplify the message conveyed by communication. Presently,
the objectives of influencer marketing are changing. The most important
objective has become increasing credibility, brand awareness, user engagement
and to reach new target audiences.  Influencer
marketing, which presented itself during 2016, is a new and growing trend that
has become an essential communication lever for brands. Influencer marketing
aims to support brands in their campaigns by enabling them to disseminate
information through influencers. They are present on social networks such as
blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and post articles, photos, etc. This
increases the brand’s visibility amongst its target audience due to the subscribers
of the influencer. The aim is to improve the brand’s image or reputation by
targeted communication with a qualified audience. Contrary to the buzz
technique, influencer marketing allows a good control of information
distribution and a better definition of content. Influencer marketing can be
achieved through different techniques. It is possible to act by sponsoring
content on social networks. A brand can also send a product to an influencer. The
influencer will use it and share their experience with their community. This
technique is called the Buzz kit. The importance is to know how to choose an
influencer with the same theme as the brand universe. Some companies can then
promote their products through travel blogs. Influencers thoughts and reviews
will then be posted onto their blogs. Other social networks such as Snapchat, YouTube
or Instagram are also ideal places to make a good product placement.
Furthermore, another technique that has only recently been noticed is unboxing.
The principle is that an influencer unboxes a parcel in front of their camera
and posts it. The reactions are then thought to have a higher validity to
consumers resulting in a truer reaction which consumers are thought to appreciate
more highly. The takeover is also used by brands as they give control of one or
more of their social networks to a influencer. This action is often used during
a communication campaign. Other means can be used such as invitations to
events, giveaways or web-series.

 

 

 

Presently, digital
technology has become rather essential. Brands realize that using influencers
can allow them to reach a quality audience rather than a quantity audience. Influencer
marketing has different advantages for brands. First, it allows them to develop
their notoriety. The brand conveys a message to the influencer who relays it to
the community (targeted audience). Second, it allows them to interact with
their community because the influencer is the direct link between the brand and
its customers. It is well connected as the community reacts very quickly to share
their opinion. This allows the company to react in real time whilst acting
efficiently. Third, the brand discovers a new form of communication that is
less intrusive in the lives of consumers. It enhances its brand image due to
the influencers confidence in the product which bestows recommendations to their
followers. Fourth, the partnership with an influencer allows the brand to
increase its sales. The influencer is a figure of confidence for the potential
buyer. The buyer feels reassured to be able to rely on the advice of someone
outside of the brand. Fifth, the target maintains an emotional connection with
the influencer that it follows. It is therefore important to choose an
influential person with a strong commitment to their community. The objective
is to seduce the target audience so that the emotional connection extends to
the brand. If the influencer likes the products and talks about them in a
natural way, they will manage to get them implemented by the target.

 

 

 

The profitability of a
partnership between a brand and an influencer can be measured by the number of ‘like’
statistics and commentaries on the social media of the influencer.  It can also be measured by the number of
purchases made by new customers or the number of visitors to the website during
the partnership period. It is important for brands to determine which
influencers are most relevant. However, Influence is a difficult factor to
measure but it is possible to measure a good amount of influence according to
differential criteria. Brands should first determine the reach of the message
and audience potential. It should then consider the level of audience
engagement on each of the visual or articles broadcast and finally the
relevance of the message to the brand’s objectives and audience interests. Many
platforms exist to guide brands to influential people. They can target the
personality that best matches the brand and its positioning. This results in
the recruitment of a brand ambassador, who will embody the brand in an
advertisement. It also helps find a digital influence that will make product
placement, sponsored posts or brand content. An example of this would be the brand
Adidas who understood this strategy very well and contracted the football
player Lionel Messi as ambassador of the brand. Adidas also chose digital
influencers such as Hannah Bronfman, personal trainer Zanna van Dijk, coach
& writer Robin Arzon and retired tennis star Ana Ivanovic. All of these individuals
are significantly influential on social networks and have many subscribers.
Also in the field of sport, they are a real asset for the brand.

 

Influencer marketing
can have an impact or it ‘sit’ alongside to some of the discussions that have been
studied in conferences or tutorials. Indeed, augmented reality may be a way of
finding new influencers. However, it is up to companies and brands to find them
by following current trends.  For
example, in the case of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality application launched
in the summer of 2016. The goal is simply to find and catch Pokémon all around
the world. This was a real opportunity for street-side gable companies. This
was due to Poke stops, having a Poke stop near a point of sale, would allow benefits
from the route followed by Poké trainers resulting in an increase in visibility
rate. For example, the McDonalds Japan franchise. The franchises 3000 stores
became “Pokémon Go arenas” and their Poké customers could benefit
from special discounts. This opportunity was also recognised by the American
video game chain Game stop, which announced that “its sales had increased
by 100% thanks to the new star of mobile games”. Elsewhere, virtual
reality is also related to influencer marketing. Defined as “all the
techniques and systems that give mankind the feeling of penetrating synthetic
worlds created on the Internet”, virtual reality is undoubtedly a
marketing progression for brands. It enables individuals to carry out actions
through various computer programmes by stimulating their senses. Augmented
reality can be a real benefit to consumers. It allows them to put a product in
a situation to visualize it in their living environment. Different brands have begun
to use virtual reality. This is the case of the Tesco chain, which has created
a virtual supermarket for its customers. This enabled them to rethink their
stores and determine consumer habits and behaviour. Ikea has also developed an
application; IKEA VR Experience, allowing consumers to design and visualize the
kitchen of their dreams in virtual reality. Influencer marketing is an integral
part of social consumption. Today, people are connected and influencer
marketing keeps them up to date with the latest trends. When someone sees a product
on an influencer, they want the same product because they want to look like them.

 

Further, when creating
an organisation in fashion or retail, like ASOS, influencer marketing can
affect its process of going to market. It can have a negative effect if the
organisation does not make the correct choices. When choosing influencer
marketing one has to be careful because one can make mistakes very quickly.
Some influencers use strange means to generate clicks and traffic and are not honest.
Others are unreliable because they have no real need of achievement or success.
It is also possible that some influencers may have a negative impact on the
campaign leading to negative feedback. On the other hand, the company must be
very careful not to make mistakes such as not researching the potential
influencers, ignoring the law, criticizing or restraining an influencer. For
some celebrities it becomes difficult to reach their target because they have
less and less impact on their community. Therefore, reinforcing the idea of
choosing an influencer who truly respects and clicks with the brand. It is
therefore suggested to recruit micro-influencers rather than macro-influencers.
who have a huge number of subscribers, because their responsiveness is greater
and they generate commitment. It is a strategy that the company has adopted
because it possesses influencers called “ASOS insiders”. However,
each of these errors can be avoided if the upstream work is well executed.
Further, if the follow-up is good, there is only positives for the organisation.
Indeed, each individual identifies them self with the influencer they follow.
This allows the brand to leave its mark on the market by increasing its
visibility. The right choice of the influencer can also lead to an instant credibility
in the interactive community. It is more discreet and a less aggressive form of
advertising for the consumer as they view the posts as recommendations. The
brand also obtains a better return on investment due to a lower advertising
cost when compared to standard advertising. Influencer marketing can also influence
and affect the marketing process of each organisation. Generation Y is very
present on social networks and this is reflected in its purchasing
behaviour.  That’s why influencer
marketing is very effective in the fashion and retail sector but also operates
in other sectors such as automotive and aviation. In the future, it will evolve
and it will require a few improvements such as more regulation, more
authenticity and higher costs. Influencers will need to become truly aware of
the impact of their activities on consumers because they are being trusted and
sometimes deceived.

 

 

 

To conclude, marketing has evolved over the years and
has gone through different eras. These eras (modernism, post-modernism, meta-modernism)
have played a major role in the development of different art forms,
mentalities, lives of individuals and technological progress. Presently,
society seeks to respond to as much as possible to its arising needs through use
of new inventions or new means. The emergence of social networks has led to the
rise of influential marketing. It allows companies to communicate via
influencers on different platforms; this is an emerging theme and a current
trend. This subject is of interest due to the number of individuals experiencing
it on a daily basis. For a brand or organisation, it is now very important to
allocate a budget for influencer marketing. It is necessary to be aware of how
to be present on social networks and how to recruit appropriate influencer that
will increase visibility and boost sales. In the future, influencer marketing
still needs to evolve in order to be truly recognised and its influencers need
to become more aware of their role amongst consumers. Influencers will also have
to remain authentic and be more aware of their role with consumers. Finally, influencer
marketing could then be followed by “shop-able advertising” where
customers could buy products directly through advertising.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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