Celebrity Endorsements aren’t New

Celebrity endorsements have been around for a long time, I mean a really long time. According to Wikipedia, in the 1760s ( that’s not a typo) Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, producers of pottery and chinaware, used royal endorsements to promote their product.

Then came the trading cards, where photos of celebrities would be bundled with a product. Everything from cigarettes to bubble gum were sold with photos.

Maybe you are old enough to remember “baseball cards” which you could collect and trade. If only I had held on to my 1968 Tom Seaver card I am pretty sure I would be an influencer, instead of writing about them.

Recognizable Celebrities Get Attention

By the 1940s, Hollywood stars and athletes routinely allowed their images to be used in the endorsement of products. Today, it seems a little odd to see a former president endorsing cigarettes, but this advertisement predates his political career. As a popular actor in an era when everyone smoked, people wanted to know what brand he smoked so they could be like him.

These endorsements work because we recognize the celebrity and react positively to them. Of course, there is always the risk that the celebrity will do something awful (think Jared and Subway)

Celebrities as Experts

We assume an athlete knows something about running shoes or a celebrity chef knows something about kitchenware, so consumers are likely to follow their advice. It is harder to make a celebrity endorsement work when customers wonder if they know anything about the project they are promoting.

We also expect celebrities to be honest with us, so we assume they actually use the product. There was a significant backlash when Samsung spokespersons Manny Pacquaio and David Beckham were both caught using other brands of phones.

Everyone can be an Expert

The internet has given rise to a whole new community of celebrities or influencers. An influencer doesn’t need to be in politics or entertainment, sports or fashion to be influential. They simply need to be considered knowledgeable by a section of the market.

These influencers create content, such as blog posts and video about products and brands. They promote their opinions on social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter. They build a large, loyal following who are likely to be influenced when they promote a product or brand.

Smart brands are now targeting influencers, so who are they and why should it matter to you?

Influencers by the Numbers

From a study by Mavrck, a company which produces a software product to connect brands and influencers we learn:

  • 95% of influencers are women. From mommy bloggers, to would be fashionistas, women have always sought the opinion of other women. The internet just makes it easy to find and share those opinions.
  • 75% of influencers are 25 -34 years old. These younger women understand how the internet really works, and they use the tools to grow their audience.
  • The most popular platform in 2018 is Instagram followed by Facebook Pages and Groups, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • What influencers are likely to be motivated by. Free product tops the list, followed by monetary compensation.

Do You Need an Influencer?

If your target community is likely to be impressed by the opinions of a 30-year-old woman, the answer may be yes. But choose wisely, because the same rules about credibility and likeability which drive celebrity endorsements apply to influencers.

And what if you are selling a B2B industrial product? While there may not be a professional influencer out there with 5 million Instagram fans, there probably is an industry expert with influence in his or her community that you can tap into.

Human beings are influenced by the opinions of others, regardless of what they are buying. Need help constructing your influencer strategy. Give us a call.