Though no definite beginning exists, influencer marketing came in to vogue only a few short years ago in the early 2010s. It was the logical progression of marketing as it shifted the focus from characters and celebrities (like Tony the Tiger and The Marlboro Man) to people closest to the consumer — influencers.
By utilizing rapidly shared and quickly consumed content like blogs and pictures, influencer marketing has become the idealized form of digital marketing.
Influencer marketing harnesses both the ubiquity of the internet and the pervasiveness of social media.
Some industries are more predisposed to influencer marketing than others, particularly fashion. It makes sense, given that social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook lend themselves to modeling clothes, but there's more to it than that. Much of the reason for the rapid adoption of influencer marketing in the fashion industry is not just its effectiveness, but the competition that comes from it.
The Cutting Edge
Nowadays, with an effective influencer campaign, direct to consumer fashion brands like Allbirds and Glossier can sustain themselves and thrive in digital only marketplaces, with very little need for brick & mortar stores. Other brands can vault themselves into the fray using influencers to solidify their image, like Zara and Fashion Nova. Even giants of the industry like H&M and Express rely on influencers for their marketing campaigns, both to stay on the cutting edge and to ensure new product lines are effectively advertised.
Fashion brands tend to utilize micro influencers because of their proclivity to have higher engagement rates among their followers: fashion brands, especially established ones, are more concerned with penetration than reach. Often, fashion brands partner with influencers long-term to cultivate a relationship both with an influencer and their followers. Doing so on a smaller scale ensures the aforementioned higher rates of engagement and a higher ROI for each campaign.
Fashion Nova: A Case Study
Fashion Nova, famous for its democratized approach to fashion (and incidentally, its massive celebrity spokespeople), is perhaps the most significant example of influencer marketing done right. By simultaneously collaborating with trending and taste making celebrities like Cardi B and Kehlani, and utilizing troves of micro influencers, Fashion Nova has vaulted itself over its competition. In fact, it is so popular among its demographics that more people searched for Fashion Nova than Zara and Chanel. It is even keeping pace with H&M, and that's without filtering for their various controversies.
Their message is simple: make good looking fashion available for any person of any size at a modest price. Using influencers to tell this story ensures the campaign feels authentic — who better to represent this than the consumers themselves? This strategy has guided several big name fashion brands, as is evident in most campaigns among popular brands. Even luxury brands like Gucci have started using influencers to craft a new image, despite its price point. Fashion Nova's unbridled and unrivaled popularity is a direct consequence of its influencer strategy — and that's without any commentary on its quality or style.
Micro-Influence is Changing Minds and Changing Industries
This is not just a reflection of savvy marketing, but the changing face of the industry. Fashion on the whole has been consumed by influencer marketing, coming down from the ivory tower of haute luxury it once was. Successful brands are no longer buttressed by images of unattainability; reflections of class and wealth that the average consumer can only aspire to achieve. The democratization of fashion, via the power of influencer marketing, has transformed what we know of it, both as an industry and as an ideal. Fashion Nova's willful use of influencers in tandem with superstar celebrities, and the success they've enjoyed, is emblematic of this change.