The Possible Influences on the Consumer Buying Decision Process: post-Covid Influencer Business Model
As we are spending more and more time online, especially given the new Corona lock down and post-lock down circumstances, everything is being shared more and faster than before. More Instagram mommy blogger and regular people create content that competes with life caster Influencers, using this opportunity to get more followers and hoping that money will follow. And burnout is already a big problem, as addressed by Chiara Ferragni herself, who plans to develop her sales platforms to work independently, relying less on her involvement and active globe-trotting, chasing endorsement opportunities.
Also, many Influencers are in trouble as they can no longer support they fabulous lifestyle without the endorsement and marketing deals from industries badly hit by the crisis, such as retail, fashion and travel. As Influencers relying on showing off lavish lifestyle are already cooling off, we notice that they tend to become more mainstream, embarrassing the chaos of live streaming and TikTok humor, hoping to somehow keep their followers engaged.
This particularly stressful environment resulting in the recent bankruptcy of many retailers who finance lifestyle Influencers such as J. Crew (2,5 billion in revenues in 2019), Neiman Marcus (4,9 billion in revenues in 2018), and ZARA (closing over 1,000 stores in 2020) while the major luxury brands such as Rolex and Chanel decided to discontinue their collections, the lifestyle promoted by influencers and their own careers are under intense pressure. As some of them reinvent themselves and take humanitarian patronages (see Chiara Ferragni herself), others beg their followers for donations, hoping to make it through, while monetizing their own subscriber base.
Opportunity for real, content generating Influencers
This new Covid-influenced business environment has been a major disruptor for how we live, how we manage our lives and careers, how we raise our families and interact with our friends, how we buy and what we tend to value more. Undoubtedly, we are all attracted to glam and the fabulous lives of lifestyle Influencers and this trend will not die with COVID. As the Influencers themselves reposition their personal brands, in search for more solid and stable opportunities, so do consumers.
We look around at what our lives have become and we see a mess. A mess of children playing under our worktable while homeschooling (hello John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we can now relate to you, finally), a mess of our eating habits (hello home delivery, from groceries to cooked meals), a mess of interior design (hello couches that one can actually sit on and furniture that is actually practical and stable), a mess of our sleeping habits (hello Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime, goodbye sleep), a mess of our outdoor routine (hello trips from kitchen to living room and at-home fitness routine), a mess of our Social Media scrolling (good bye mindless scrolling, hello to dream-like Instagram posts), a mess of our dress habits (goodbye mindless shopping, hello to shopping in our own closets), a mess of our social interaction (hello Face time with Mom, goodbye meaningless relations), a mess of our future plans (hello uncertainty, goodbye safety and taking it all for granted).
It is a new world, as as soon as we understand that, the better. As a marketer, I look at trends in business and society, attempting to anticipate and project what the next steps should be, for my clients and not only. As a marketer, how can I advice my clients to spend their marketing budgets, in this new present, more uncertain than ever?
We are definitely living in a period in time that has never been experienced before. We cannot look at economy gurus and find answers. We cannot look at research data prognosis customer spending and interest, and find answers, as no such answers exist. We have a clean path in front of us, that we need to fill with information, from new communication standards, new human relationship models, new career developments and new sources of information that we can trust and follow.
During this time of intense scrutiny, when we tend to question everything and see manipulations and manipulators more clearly than before, how many of the actual Influencers will endure? What is the new Influencer profile like?
If we look at the main attributes all the self-made lifestyle Influencers have in common, we cannot help but notice: modest background, both financial and educational, little substance, no real content, but strong desire to succeed, ability to monetize self-ridicule and own weaknesses, hard work and relentless grit, business acumen and ability to navigate through different endorsements as to monetize time and effort, open to sharing real or fabricated intimate details about them or family members (children included).
Under scrutiny, how many of the present Influencers would stand the test of time and credibility?
What will the Influencers of tomorrow look like?
They are already out there, and some have been for quite a while, competing and creating blogs, vlogs and Instagram posts, while living normal lives, with normal jobs, homeschooling , cooking and gardening. The mommy blog and the business blog are now a force to be reckoned with, as they generate strong engagement numbers and their followers base increases, while promoting value-based content. They may not have 20 mil followers yet, but with an average of 1,5 mil followers engaging and following their examples, there is hope.
I believe the future will see more of business Influencers, people who have a real education and successful careers, and can easily address business and social themes while living their lives with their own struggles, that consumers can actually relate to.
Because, in the end, the customer decision buying process is based on the influences of reference groups, social classes and cultures that form the Social Influencers. We are mesmerized by the fabulous, yet we look at our own messy kitchens and observe… they do not look like us. We want to dream, yet we have jobs and children. We want to follow people who go through life-altering experiences and come out the other end stronger, and have the ability to inspire us. Who can be trusted with information, because they clearly research and understand .Who are highly credible and relatable. . . It is the same as when we look at the fabulous Hollywood productions, and explain our children: this is just a movie, those characters do not exist in reality. You cannot actually fly, Thor is a fictional character based on a historical one and 007 will not come to rescue you from bad people.
As old-fashion businesses collapse, we need new models, new creative minds to inspire and exert their influence in our lives. Who are your post-Covid favorite Influencers?
I would like to suggest just 3 from my list:
- Angela Merkel – for her success in making Germany a free-Covid country, while gracefully and competently addressing sensitive issues https://www.instagram.com/bundeskanzlerin/?hl=ro
- Jacinda Arden – for her authentic leadership style, her commitment to social and human-related themes that can improve the lives of every day people, for being a mother who works and admitting that juggling is not a walk in the park https://www.instagram.com/jacindaardern/?hl=ro
- Alexandria Ocasion Cortez – for her courage to come against the establishment, her authenticity and the drive to address real and important issues such as Facebook monopoly. And more about her ”becoming” on Netflix, ”Knock Down the Hill” documentary, about the power of the new grass-root movement, a new generation of individuals who want to change the world.
Who would you add?