Livestreaming is transforming eRetail, as we explored in our recent article Livestreaming: the latest trend in eCommerce. This is true not only in China where livestreaming is already a huge phenomenon, but also increasingly in the West with the launch of platforms such as Amazon Live. Livestream shopping is where an influencer, often a popular celebrity, gives a real-time demonstration of a product online and responds to live questions from a digital audience who can buy direct from the platform.
There is no doubt that influencer marketing has become a core marketing strategy for many brands with Instagram influencer marketing in 2018 growing by over 39% year-on-year and with almost 4 in 10 marketers planning to increase their influencer marketing budget for 2019. Understanding how influencers build a relationship with fans and followers and how they interact with them is crucial. Let’s start by exploring how the role of influencers is changing and then understand more about inspirational commerce.
How the role of influencers is changing
Our modern working environment and 24/7 lifestyle with quasi-constant digital connectivity leave us little time to recharge our minds and bodies. “In a lot of ways the technologies that were meant to save energy have become stress factors in their own right,” explains medical historian Anna Katharina Schnaffner. According to Gina Bianchini, CEO of Mighty Networks, influencers are not immune from this mental exhaustion. As she writes, “In an anxious world, we’re going to need more than a juice cleanse to take care of our exhausted psyches.”
In the early years of influencer marketing on social media, many influencers focused on building an audience, with size (i.e. follower numbers) and engagement rate being the decisive features. However, today increasing numbers of influencers are looking to create more authentic connections by building supportive communities and connecting their fans and followers to each other. As Bianchini writes, “While the first generation of e-commerce was about selling physical products online, this coming wave of ‘inspirational commerce’ is about creating opportunities for people to buy experiences and connections to realize their full potential.”
The emergence of inspirational commerce
The more astute influencers are recognizing that they are now their own product and are creating a business model which enables them to monetize the communities they are creating through memberships or events. Take Yoga with Adriene, for example. Founder Adriene Mishler has built on the success of her brand with its 4 million followers by creating a subscription-based site, Find What Feels Good, where members can connect with each other without putting any demands on Adriene’s time. Adriene also organizes live yoga events such as the one she held in London last year where 2,400 followers paid £40 a ticket to do a yoga class at Alexandra Palace.
In a similar vein, Elinor Fish, founder of Run Wild Retreats, a brand which organizes running retreats for women, has created the Healthy Runners’ Community. This community not only provides those who have been on one of Elinor’s retreats with a means of connecting with each other, but also offers a platform for alumni to encourage other enthusiastic runners to book a place on a retreat thereby helping Elinor to grow her business.
Source: Healthy Runners’ Community.
The importance we place on health and wellness in our own lives is spilling over into eCommerce. Influencers such as Adriene Mishler are pioneering a new kind of “connected” wellness in order to counter the sense of isolation and loneliness that have been triggered by our current digital world. Influencers are ideally placed to achieve this as they are able to bring together everything a consumer needs in one place. According to Gina Bianchini, not only does this make things easier to manage but it also offers the only way in which a brand can become more valuable with each new person who signs up.
Influencer marketing has undoubtedly become one of the most effective online marketing techniques for brands but if phase one was focused on the number of followers and selling physical products, then phase two is about inspirational commerce, brands building supportive communities that they are able to monetize through offering experiences, memberships or events.
This article was created and written by Luigi Matrone – CEO & Founder of the eBusiness Institute.
At the eBusiness Institute, we have extensive experience of working with numerous brands on their digital transformation. We understand the importance of an optimised consumer experience to drive your brand’s sales online and offline. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.