Influencer marketing goes mainstream

Last month, TAKUMI surveyed over 3,500 consumers, marketers, and influencers across the UK, US, and Germany on the latest trends in the influencer marketing sector. In its whitepaper, Into the mainstream: Influencer marketing in society, several themes emerged around ethics, diversity, misinformation, and new channels.

The study shows that influencer marketing is now a core pillar in brand marketing strategies. In the last 12 months, almost three-quarters of marketers have allocated more budget to influencer marketing, with spending increasing in the retail (79%), legal (79%), and manufacturing (75%) sectors in particular.

Mainstream channels
Brands are also working with influencers across more mainstream advertising channels, including OOH (83.3%), print (80%), and TV & radio (81.3%). Part of this shift is down to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but there is also a desire from consumers to see influencer content beyond social media. Over a third (38%) of consumers said they were open to seeing influencers incorporated into traditional advertising, rising to 54% among 16-24-year-olds.

% of marketers open to including influencers in TV adervising and print/billboard advertising


Although marketers are looking to engage influencers across multiple owned channels, very few influencers have tapped into this potential. Our survey showed that creators unanimously favoured ‘having a dedicated and engaged audience’, and ‘creating innovative and authentic creative content’, over ‘expanding into mainstream media channels’.

Less than 1% of UK influencers said it was the most important aspect of working in the influencer marketing industry, while none of the US and German influencers surveyed identified it as a top priority. In fact, despite growing marketer and consumer appetite, 34% of UK influencers, 22% of US influencers, and 33% of German influencers ranked ‘expanding into mainstream media channels’ as their lowest priority.

Preferred channels for influencer collaborations over the next 12 months


Diversity rules
Instead, influencers considered diversity a far bigger priority than spreading into mainstream advertising channels, with more than 50% of content creators believing it was the number-one issue that needed to be addressed by marketers and brands moving forward.

The above statistic is symbolic of a wider theme in the whitepaper: influencers are becoming more politically active, and consumers want to see creators voice an opinion on political, social, and ethical issues. 41% of consumers agreed that social media influencers should use their platforms to discuss current affairs and everyday activism.

% of consumers that agree social media influencers should use their platforms to discuss current affairs and everyday activism


Political issues
However, brands are still hesitant about incorporating real-world issues into their campaigns. Over half (55%) of all marketers across the UK, US, and Germany said they would be anxious about working with an influencer who is vocal about social and political issues. This is despite over a third (39%) of consumers saying social media influencers have a greater influence on them if they promote a social conscience or strong ethical stance.

With conversations around diversity, race, and culture thrust into the fore following the Black Lives Matter protests, our research has found consumers are hungry for content produced by influencers who take a stance on societal and political issues. Brands must discard any lingering nerves and can no longer take a back seat on these issues; they must adapt with the times and diversify their influencer marketing activity across multiple channels to keep pace with consumer demand.

Methodology

In August 2020, TAKUMI commissioned and executed this research based on 3,592 respondents.

TAKUMI conducted research via online surveys, interviews and focus groups.

Survey Monkey was commissioned by TAKUMI to execute a study of 291 influencers in the UK, US, and Germany.

Censuswide was commissioned by TAKUMI to execute a study of 3,010 nationally representative consumers (aged 16+) and 756 marketers in the UK, US and Germany. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.


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