Influencers are widespread throughout many retail sectors and 70% of brands across industries are working with influencers through Instagram partnerships, according to research firm L2.
Within the retail industry, the popularity of influencers varies by sector. Leading the industry are luxury brands, 91% of whom reported using Instagram influencers, followed by activewear (84%) and beauty (83%) brands. On the low side of the spectrum are consumer electronics brands, 61% of whom use Instagram influencers, food and beverages (45%), personal care (38%) and home care (16%), according to the study.
Advocate influencers drive the strongest relationships with shoppers, with an 8% rate of engagement, followed by micro-influencers (4%) and celebrities (1.6%), the study found.
As retailers look for ways to market to an increasingly social-driven market, putting influencers at the heart of the marketing strategy is a rising trend. According to L2’s recent study, it pays off in terms of engagement.
When comparing content posted by brands versus by influencers, L2 found that influencers increased the engagement on image content posts by 17% compared to non-influencer posts (although posts perceived to be non-promotional did twice as well as overtly promotional posts). A similar result was discovered with video content, although that format was less popular all-around.
In addition, although many brand accounts end up with a similar number of followers as their influencer commands, L2’s data show influencer accounts racked up much more engagement. According to the study, Zoella — an influencer for NYX Cosmetics — has 11.2 million followers and an interaction rate of 3.4%, compared to NYX’s 11.6 million followers and interaction rate of just 0.44%.
This may be in part because the vast majority of brands (90%) say they don’t feature influencer content on their own accounts — something L2 says can "greatly broaden the reach of influencer content with virtually no additional effort."
"Brands that saw the highest engagement rates on their own social media accounts all had strong influencer strategies, indicating that influencers may have a halo effect on brand account engagement as well," the report states.
Last year, micro-influencers were incredibly popular among consumers, with research from Keller Fay revealing that 82% of consumers surveyed would follow a micro-influencer’s recommendation. That being said, newer studies have suggested that micro-influencer’s aren’t worth the cost and that retailers should invest in a variety to get the best ROI.
L2’s report falls somewhere in the middle, recommending that marketers use bigger influencers like celebrities for "product launches and tentpole campaigns" while touting the ability of micro-influencers to "increase brand awareness and engagement with new consumers."
Anything that can get consumers engaged on social these days is a smart move to attract younger generations. Not only does Gen Z want more brand interaction with authentic and socially-responsible retailers, but their purchasing decisions are also heavily influenced by mobile platforms.
The generation converts twice as much on mobile as any other generation and multiple studies have shown how influential social media is to the group: 80% of Gen Z and 74% of millennials are influenced by social media while shopping and Gen Z is twice as influenced by social media as by deals.
That’s not to mention how influential Instagram as a platform is: 72% of Instagram users report making purchase decisions based on something that they saw on the site. With the power and reach that social in itself provides, influencers could become increasingly ubiquitous in the future.