By Marken Shedd and James Lucey
Influencer kits and influencer marketing are taking the digital world by storm. Are you in on the trend?
If you’ve checked your Instagram feed recently, you’ve seen influencer marketing in action. It used to be that product endorsements were reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan and Sofia Vergara, but in today’s egalitarian digital world, your neighborhood vloggers are getting in on the game. So why are big-brand marketing departments favoring digital influencers over bonafide celebrities?
By the end of this article, you will be able to answer the following questions:
1.) What is influencer marketing?
2.) Why is influencer marketing as valuable, if not more so, than a highly polished celebrity endorsement on TV?
3.) How can you leverage packaging to get a piece of the pie?
Under the Influence
An influencer is an individual who uses social media to share original content about a given topic and in doing so establishes themselves as an expert with a dedicated following. This contrasts with a celebrity, who has a broader audience but has established their fame through some other, more traditional media channel (TV, movies, radio, etc). Of course, internet influencers have made the transition and are now ambassadors for traditional brands in traditional marketing avenues, becoming ‘celebrities‘ in their own right. The boundary is certainly blurring, but for now, the distinction holds.
Influencer marketing is a social media marketing strategy that leverages the credibility and an influencer’s audience to reach new markets, drive sales, and build brand reputation.
At its best, social media is a personal tool – people communicating with other people. Influencers share content which is personally representative: an Instagram post, a Snap, or a YouTube video featuring a snippet from their life.
When an influencer gushes about their detox tea, makeup, new sneakers, etc, there is a belief that their consumer habits are a genuine reflection of themselves, and therefore a more credible product endorsement than a celebrity being paid to endorse a similar product.
Micro to the Max
That credibility increases when the product endorsed is genuinely in the influencer’s wheelhouse. A micro-influencer, someone with less than 10,000 followers, who endorses a new product may not have the reach of a bonafide celebrity, but their followers are many times more likely to actually make a purchase (at least, based on research here, here, and here).
Finally, strategic partnerships with influencers have shown tremendous ROI. Both influencers and big brands are looking to generate compelling content for their streams to keep audiences interested and engaged and shopping. Compare the cost per impression of:
a.) giving free make-up to an influencer with 3 million make-up loving followers
b.) garnering equivalent impressions with a TV ad or billboard (which is being seen indiscriminately by everyone including your dad)
Providing an influencer with complementary products puts the onus of content creation on the influencer’s capable shoulders and ensures the proliferation of genuine, user-generated content into that influencer’s engaged, qualified audience.
In short, today’s brands can garner the attention of qualified buyers simply by identifying the taste-makers in their niche demographics and providing those individuals with something worth posting about.
New Kits on the Block
So then, what does packaging have to do with this?
Influencer marketing campaigns often coincide with a new product launch. In order to deliver a physical sample of the product as well as informative, branded collateral to their influencers, brands are increasingly relying on the use of Influencer Kits.
Enter rigid boxes, the standard in prestige presentation packaging.
The mark of a true influencer kit is an attractive, custom package containing promotional items and/or print collateral relevant to a particular marketing campaign. An influencer kit is designed to make an impression. In fact, influencer kits are often more costly than the item they carry because the driving force behind the package isn’t the product but the brand messaging and ‘unboxing’ experience for the recipient.
These packages are made to appeal to a specific type of person (a Street baller or bartender for example) who knows they are a leader in their field. The package must demand attention, be strategically designed, and look great on camera. And this cannot be emphasized enough; the package itself has to appeal to the tastes of its recipients and be worth sharing on social media. The packaging and the product have to look good on Instagram, like this Happy Baby kit announcing new transparent packaging.
And it has to be cool.
When Red Bull released its Orange Edition flavor, they seeded the internet with custom packaging for a single can of the product in a box decorated with vivid color pops. Highlighting an exciting new product is easy when it comes in gorgeous packaging. The soft-touch wrapped box with four color printing, beautiful flocked foam insert, and ribbon lift is more commonly seen packaging an expensive electronic device. But when used to promote the energy drink, custom packaging helped generate tens of thousands of impressions, including a Snap video by Olympian Lolo Jones.
That said, influencer kits ought to delight their respective influencers and one surefire way to please is with lots of free stuff. A well-branded influencer kit could contain freebies as standard as a t-shirt or as extravagant as an Xbox. There’s also opportunity for truly weird, quirky specialty items like giant dice and ceramic artichoke holders.
While it’s difficult to measure the precise ROI of influencer marketing at this point, the consensus is that it works wonders for the brands who invest in it.
As social media continues to integrate into our culture, influencer marketing will become a mainstay of the typical marketing mix. Current industry professionals recommend spending between 1%-25% of your annual marketing budget on influencer campaigns. As such, Influencer Kits will continue to be crucial to the success of influencer marketing campaigns.
Want to Influence your customers on Social Media? Contact us today to get started on an Influencer Kit for your brand or product launch!