Professor Reaction: Is This the End of Influencing as We Knew It?

Professor Reaction: Is This the End of Influencing as We Knew It?

Professor Reaction: Is This the End of Influencing as We Knew It? banner

Who: Kristen Regine, DBA, is a professor of marketing at Johnson & Wales University. She teaches courses in marketing, advertising and retail for both the College of Business and the College of Professional Studies.

Article: Vanity Fair’s Is This the End of Influencing as We Knew It? by Kenzie Bryant

Agree or Disagree with the Article: Disagree

COVID-19 has given the world of retailing a new hurdle for 2020: how do consumers still shop for products in a pandemic? For essential products, this is not an issue. However, for the world of fashion, there is a new normal because stores are currently closed. As a result, consumers are no longer able to use visual merchandising tactics or walk into a store to ask a sales associate their expert opinion. In the United States, we are figuring out how to re-open stores, and e-commerce is the only option. This makes me think of how influencers actually influence our purchase.

Age of Innovation for Influencers

I disagree with Bryant’s main point that, based on the current state of the world in pandemic, “whatever inspiration influencers offered [to consumers] will no longer cut it.” Now more than ever, it’s important to find connections with people. For influencers with millions of followers, this is the person the consumer built a relationship with to get tips for how to use self-tanner, create a smoky eye, or find a sustainably sourced product. I personally follow a number of lifestyle bloggers and find that they are adapting to the changing times.

More and more, we’re seeing posts directed to a new pandemic “lifestyle” of staying home which means cooking, trying new household gadgets and recipes, and ways to pass the time with kids. Plus, many influencers are showing their support for local restaurants that deliver as well as taking a new look at work clothing under the lens of casual wear. Influencers will continue to be relevant as long as they know their target market. This comes down to the basic principle of marketing, which is understanding value. As long as influencers know what their consumers value, they will continue to be relevant, in my opinion.

Same Brand, New Message

Why would you unfollow an influencer on social media? Typically, it’s because they’ve gone off-brand or become insensitive to the environment we are now living in. The influencer is their own brand and still must stay true to their image, which has built up their brand equity, even in a changing time. For example, one of my favorite influencers is Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies and rachelparcell.com. Since the pandemic began, she’s adapted to her life at home with her kids while maintaining her sponsorships with brands. These days, she’s sharing recipes and giving a glimpse at her life at home with her two kids and another on the way. She’s still sharing her makeup from when Sephora had a sale this month, fashion, and crafting opinions on different topics.

Even though there a new guidelines for influencers and new issues to bring to light, if I see that Rachel Parcell has promoted a new moisturizer, I might purchase it because I believe she’s credible. Many bloggers and influencers are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to do reveals of their closets and show how they use products. Again, it comes down to brand equity. The influencers who are savvy marketers and who stay true to their brand will weather the storm.

Unlike Bryant, I believe that it is up to the consumer to do their due diligence and decide what influences their purchase decision. Even if it’s not a celebrity or YouTube star, consumers will still be influenced by impulses, emotion, and word of mouth. All of these things, as well as social media and the influencer community, are pieces that make up consumer behavior and how we understand it. And, let’s face it: the consumer is fickle and has a hard time deciding anything. With that being said, I think influencers who keep control of their brands and continue to share valuable content for their consumers will be just fine on the other side of this pandemic.

Learn more about earning your bachelor’s degree in digital marketing and social media online from Johnson & Wales University. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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