2020 was a year in which consumer trust and tailored communications were more important than ever in attracting and keeping customers. Influencers, too, had a vital role in both, so much so that their global reach rose 57% in 2020 according to a study conducted by the research arm of Klear, an influencer marketing platform. Some of the other results of their survey of more than 5,000 influencers and trends may be valuable to marketers as well.
One trend Klear noticed was the move to social activism by brands. The firm found that 80% of brands appear likely to continue engaging in it this year. The firm also noted that the influencer market for Gen Z rose 9% while Tik Tok collaborations increased 130%. What do these numbers mean for future influencer marketing strategies?
After the George Floyd tragedy, the #BlackLivesMatter movement took off and has not looked back. Only 20% of brands remained silent and didn’t make any statement. The silence by those brands spoke more loudly than those who spoke up, and may be felt for a long time as more consumers, especially the younger ones, say they will only buy from those whose values align with theirs.
As expected, use of influencers in industries like travel and food, decreased in 2020 after the pandemic began while use of other influencers in areas like fitness, photography, lifestyle and beauty increased. Many marketers in the travel sector pivoted and focused on things like socially-distanced road trips.
Not only did the use of Gen Z influencers increase, but that generation’s share of the overall population also grew and increased their value. According to Klear, 31% of sponsored Instagram posts featured Gen Zers and that number grew to 34% in 2020. While the increase wasn’t significant, Klear noted that it was the only demographic to show an increase last year. Another platform that saw more Gen Z influencers was TikTok.
Gen Z is Important
Klear reported that Gen Z isn’t just the highest in-demand demographic, but also the most expensive. Its findings indicated that the 18 to 25-year-old generation is the highest earning influencer demographic in every Instagram category. A study by the Pew Research Center further validated the growing power of Gen Z consumers and added that these digital natives are the most educated generation, are comfortable with gender-neutral pronouns, and hold strong sprogressive political and social values.
Gen Z will be increasingly important to most brands. Those not yet adjusting their communications to this demographic need to do so quickly to get and retain their attention, especially on Instagram and TikTok.
What Lies Ahead
As to the future of influencers, here’s what some leaders had to say. Fitness influencer Mireille Sine told Klear influencers will be even more purposeful in whom they choose to work with. She also believes there will be higher levels of storytelling and authenticity. Fashion influencer Millie Adrian said she feels this year will see increases in creative video content and the exit of brands that aren’t willing or able to adapt to change.
Ramona Jones, a fashion and lifestyle influencer, summed it all up by saying that brand relationships are moving even more into ambassadorships with multiple posts and brands having stronger and direct relationships with influencers.