Who Really Influences Your Purchasing Decisions?

Companies and brands spend millions of dollars to create persuasive advertising campaigns on multiple platforms. The challenge has been making sure their brand’s message stands out in a crowded noisy world.

Consumers on the other hand are exposed to an astronomical number of promotional messages on a daily basis, many of which they ignore, especially those purely paid promotional and sponsored messages that they see within their social media feeds. Our generation consumes a significant amount of their content on social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to name a few. The same user has become savvy in ad-blocking and changing their settings to see less ads in their feed. Nonetheless, this advertising-averse generation is one of the most consumeristic and product-obsessed bunch. Plus, with the rise of social media, consumer behaviour has dramatically shifted when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

Nowadays, customers rely heavily on their peers as a source of trustworthy information. Based on a recent study by McKinsey peer-to-peer referral is the driving force behind 20 to 50 percent of purchases. On the other hand, the ever-growing social media networks enable shoppers to share and voice their opinions about products and services with others. Thanks to social media, word-of-mouth no longer entails the one-on-one communication of two parties. Consumers are now sharing information with thousands, and sometimes millions, of other shoppers in different parts of the world.


A New Breed of Brand Advocates

To cut through the promotional noise, companies are now turning to consumers with high social influence to get their word out, and to reach the ultimate customer. From Mcdonald's to Fendi, big brands are convinced that the power of these individuals is greater on consumers than the conventional marketing channels, such as TV, and radio. Influence marketing is the term used to describe the identification and engagement of individuals with high social power to promote a brand as opposed to focusing on the mass. Influence marketing has been one of the hottest topics in marketing in the past few years due to its many benefits, and is somewhat disrupting the way businesses market their products and services.
The new generation of bloggers are the perfect examples of these social influencers who enjoy an extensive, and highly-targeted and loyal fan base. Influencers have an incredible impact on shoppers and make the consumers’ decision-making process more convenient. Based on a recent survey by Research Now, 84% of consumers make a purchase based on a blog post. This high number is due to the extensive reach, relevance, and engagement that bloggers present. Also, they are often highly knowledgeable regarding the categories they blog about, which greatly increases their reliability and authority in the eyes of their followers. From identification of need, to evaluation of alternatives, bloggers and influencers are helping buyers to make more informed decisions, in less time.


Innovative Brand Managers Tap into Influencers

With the increasing popularity of bloggers and social media, it is expected that shopping habits will dramatically change in the near future. Consumers are increasingly gaining more power and are shaping the new trends. Brands on the other hand are bound to listen carefully to these social conversations, and incorporate them into their strategies in order to survive and effectively compete.
Influence marketing is not only an effective tool for marketers to promote their brand and connect with their ultimate target market, it is also advantageous for consumers as it facilitates their decision making process. Brands can advertise their products in a more meaningful and authentic way to a highly-targeted audience who are more likely to reach the message and engage with it, and on the other hand, shoppers will not be bombarded by ads that they are not interested in. Due to this mutual benefit that influence marketing offers, it is predicted that this promotional tactic is not merely a fad, but it is here to stay.
Some of the innovative brands that are using cutting-edge marketing tactics to reach consumers are Warby Parker and Mr. Porter. Both have successfully tapped into influence marketing power, to sell more than just a product, they sell a lifestyle to the consumers and their fans. Bloggers and influencers can be effective in extending the potential use cases for a brand or product line. And hence, it’s becoming increasingly important for Marketing managers and Brand managers to include and engage these potential brand advocates into their long term marketing strategy.


Stats Speak Louder Than Words

Some of the interesting and informative numbers around the power of influencers is summarized in the infographic below. A McKinsey study showed that bloggers can potentially generate twice more sales when compared to paid advertising. In addition, 61% of consumers made a purchase based on a blog post.

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Last but not least, influencer marketing is not about reaching the masses, it’s about finding those brand evangelists and influencers. Then empowering them to be your brand advocates and spread the word for you. Any brand that can potentially identity these individuals, create a relationship and work closely with them, will see increased loyalty and retention in their customer base.