What Celebrity Marketing Can Take from Subscription Box Brands

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In the same way that subscription boxes customize consumer experiences, celebrity marketing must similarly evolve to meet more needs.

Stereotypes of celebrity marketing took some time to change since the advent of social media. The days of the traditional celebrity holding up a product for a camera seem to be long over, as consumers demand new types of interactions with marketing content.

As Jazmin Garcia de Leon of Brandingmag describes it, consumers “are more creative, ambitious, and informed than ever. They are skeptical and savvy about branding and marketing, and they own technology that even enables them to be the producers, promoters, marketers, and event merchants of their own media and product.”

Subscription box brands are a great example of this new consumer mentality. They serve both as a service and a marketing tool, as the possibilities for any combination of licensed products is endless.

Since this form of service receives such glowing praise from consumers and marketers alike, naturally it is important to adopt their best practices. Here are three things that celebrity marketers can learn from subscription box brands.

1. Customization is Key

Consumers want what they want, this is nothing new, but the new breed of consumers require the chance to cater a product they love to their individual needs. The trick for a marketer is maintaining the balance of customizability and relevance to the marketplace as a whole.

Box brands like Birchbox are known for their underlying service for providing five make-up products monthly at affordable prices. Yet they also give subscribers the chance to tailor their box around a specific need for the month, centered around different categories.

This level of customization is not brand breaking or even market restricting, but it is a cost-effective way of using the product to sell the service.

2. Keep Things Exciting but Never Predictable

Often it is difficult to keep entire audiences enthusiastic about the message you are communicating. After all, there are only so many ways to promote a product with a celebrity, right? Not so fast. Subscription boxes create hype around their products by blending the product with what Lucy Whitehouse of Cosmetics Design-Europe calls the “OMG I Got a Present” Theory.

Establishing your brand as one to surprise their consumers by connecting directly is a great way to to do this. Say for example a consumer orders your product online, why not have your celebrity influencer deliver it to them personally or have them add in their personal touch to the order?

3. Focus on Building Communities

Box brands are best known for their ability to create fandoms or communities around their products. Several of them boast high engagement from consumers who look forward to the monthly surprise and share their hauls with the world.

Monthly boxes also have the chance to accomplish CSR goals as well. A pair of women in Naperville, Illinois created their own subscription boxes stuffed with inspiration items for girls to build self-worth in the surrounding community, instantly sparking a media sensation.

The sooner marketers can utilize influencers to enact these lessons, the better for their product in the long run.

The culmination of personalized marketing is the formation of a community following and subscription boxes teach marketers that goals never have to be pursued on-by-one, but can be combined into one product that the right celebrity influencer can deliver for consumers.

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Part II: Navigating the Pitfalls of Celebrity Influencer Marketing

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Safeguarding your message and having a clear contingency plan can save countless headaches and campaigns.

As in Part I, brands must evolve to have a conscious grasp on the content their consumers want to enjoy. Approaching a partnership from the perspective of the desired audience lends to the authenticity and relatability of the brand.

However, marketers must also keep the worst case scenario in mind, and have a clearly defined plan of action to protect your brand’s assets. Here are two more ways that marketers can avoid the dangers of influencer marketing.

3. Stay in Control of Your Message

Most important for marketers when dealing with celebrity influencers is to remember to maintain control whenever possible. Crises are always hard to accurately predict, but sometimes it may be wiser to turn down a partnership with a slam-dunk influencer that has the potential to rob your brand of its consumer credibility.

No matter how many precautions you take in selecting an influencer, there is always the possibility that a partnership could backfire should a scandal arise. In a scenario such as this, there are questions to be asked:

First, is the character of the influencer damaged enough to damage the brand immediately?

Second, would a continued association be a hindrance to the brand’s message?

Third, has the influencer alienated the desired demographics?

Ending a partnership in the right circumstances has the potential to place you in the good graces of society for taking action. Yet, it could also alienate your consumers should you detach at the wrong time.

Other marketers advocate for a neutral stance on an influencer’s actions and maintaining a partnership throughout a scandal, believing that they will always be valuable for their exposure. Effectively avoiding catastrophe requires a clear crisis management plan that values your brand message ahead of any other factor, and a proactive stance to take the appropriate action.

4. Beef Up Your Brand’s Personality

The amount of access afforded to brands by social media has created a culture of flashy postings like ‘Twitter wars‘ that come to define how a brand is perceived. Utilizing this resource can be a preemptive resource to protect your message from being harmed by an emergency situation.

By infusing comedy or compassion into your brand’s interactions with consumers, you can begin to construct your ideal position in popular culture. In the midst of a public relations crisis, having a brand personality reserves credibility in the minds of consumers and has the potential to alienate the influencer’s bad behavior from your brand values.

Marketers must be aware how much to push the envelope in the content they release,  a topic for another day. Staying proactive is essential in the digital realm and will remove the ability for influencers to hijack your brands message should a crisis arise.

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Part I: Navigating the Pitfalls of Celebrity Influencer Marketing

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When partnering your brand with a celebrity influencer, knowing the proper ways to safeguard your message can be the difference between success and disaster.

As more and more brands decide to utilize digital influencers to reach untapped demographics of consumers, there inevitably comes a time when controversy sours the phenomenon. It is not secret that influencers sometimes create scandalous firestorms, and more recently a few have made national headline news.

With so many brands becoming hesitant to entrust their image to a potential liability, there is massive opportunity for those who know how to properly position their brand to capitalize. Parts I and II of this post will each highlight two ways marketers can avoid the dangers of influencer marketing.

1. Represent Your Audience

It is simply not enough in the current marketing climate to merely know the audience you are trying to reach with your product. To stay on the cutting edge, marketers must now be able to provide their consumers with the content they desire. This means that your brand message must be excessively tailored to fulfill your established values.

Approach the search for an influencer from the mind of who you are selling to. If you are targeting young professionals, identify the trends in that age group and select influencers who represent those trends.

When searching for an influencer to partner with your brand, seeking relevance should be as important as influence. Rather than chasing the individual that will gain you the most exposure, marketers should turn to those that have engaged followers that will boos the influencer to consumer relationship.

The logic is simple, reaching many small influencers who have a hardcore fan-base can be much more effective than a larger influencer whose fans may not care about endorsed products, which can greatly increase the efficiency of campaigns.

2. Aim for Authenticity and Transparency

Another pitfall of influencer marketing lies in the product’s connection to consumers. Leaving an impression is certainly important, but shock value or even viral status does not last forever.

A lack of connection to a product has been the downfall of many campaigns, leading marketers to favor advocacy over influence. Advocacy differs from influence in that the talent encourages conversation about the product and requires active participation from both marketers and influencers who desire to equally benefit over a longer period of time rather than a simple one-time transaction.

Shallow partnerships have plagued the industry and have left some consumers feeling disillusioned. Marketers can short this by finding influencers that may already use their product or have a glaring need that can be filled, but it is important to keep the relationship two-sided.

Keeping a brand’s message authentic does not necessarily have to be affected by fears of overexposure either. Provided that influencers are clearly passionate about producing content with the product or service and bringing it into their lives or professions, consumers will connect with the brand message and adopt it for themselves.

To ensure that their message remains authentic, marketers should only partner with influencers who are willing to format their content to fit the needs of the brand. Close coordination is essential to tailor the tone properly and safeguard the inevitability of mistakes in a campaign’s execution.

A well-crafted brand identity will come to directly represent the values that their customers hold, which produces brand loyalty and guarantees future sales.

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Selling Authenticity with Celebrity Marketing

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Brands prove successful when trustworthy celebrities endorse their products.

Brands work tirelessly to create strong emotional and truthful connections with their audience. Because consumers connect well with celebrities on an emotional level, brands should select celebrities who carry a recognizable, authentic and credible demeanor.

As social media continues to become a window into the lives of celebrities, brands must work diligently to ensure that their celebrity partner promotes the same authenticity as the brand. Consumers frequently hold the expectation that brands will do more than simply sell a product, but rather work hard to create a trusting atmosphere.

To establish that trusting atmosphere, brands should partner with the right celebrities who can help promote products in the most natural and truthful way.

For instance, blatant and obvious brand advertisements posted on celebrities’ social media accounts do not create strong emotional ties. Consumers see right through these branded endorsements and keep scrolling. However, celebrity postings that integrate a brand’s product organically and convincingly will catch consumers’ attention.

For example, professional basketball player, Kevin Durant, built his relationship with Sparkling Ice on authenticity. Durant, a real life consumer of the zero-calorie carbonated water, was interested in a partnership with the company. As soon as Sparkling Ice caught wind of the Durant’s inquiry, they knew their sponsorship relationship would be a success because their bond was built on genuine, demonstrated interest.

Celebrity and influencer marketing has been rated as the fastest-growing way to grab online customers. Despite this success, marketers need to continually ask questions as the consumer landscape evolves.

What does our consumer base care about? How should we align the brand with those causes? What channels will have the strongest influence?

Although the answers to these three questions are not the same, all three answers address the same topic of authenticity. As brands have the opportunity to connect with consumers, they need to invest in the celebrity who best matches their beliefs as well as their audience.

In adopting the use of celebrity marketing, authenticity and transparency are critical. As information is more readily available in today’s social media landscape, consumers are not afraid to look beneath the surface and confirm that brands are using celebrities with credibility.

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Classic Brands Make a Comeback with Celebrity Marketing

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Nothing sells like a celebrity, especially when trying to bring older brands back to the forefront.

Brands leave long lasting impressions and establish strong bonds with consumers. In an ever-changing world, brands come and go, leaving consumers without their favorite go-to items. In order to bring a brand back to life, celebrity marketing builds awareness quickly, helps take market share from competitors and creates a strong emotional connection to buy.

Celebrities have long served as the public face of brands, but now they are being tapped to help brands return to the limelight. In addition to serving as a trusted trendsetter, celebrities serve as human billboards.

The popularity of classic brands can be traced back to various celebrities. Whether celebrities are endorsing a product, sporting the merchandise or even creating alliances, classic brands can meet or exceed previous success using celebrities to communicate their message.

For example, Reebok partnered with top fashion model, Gigi Hadid, in an effort to gain more popularity. Although the brand has been in existence for years, using celebrity marketing is the best method to invest in the brand’s existence for the years to come.

Similarly, Coach made a comeback using celebrity marketing. Despite being a top-seller in the 1990s, the logo-heavy leather goods fell out of the mainstream. In order to reemerge in the accessories industry, they used singing sensation, Selena Gomez. As the new face of Coach, Gomez has helped to create playful and eclectic designs that are a must-have for all young millennial girls, breathing new life into the brand.

While celebrity marketing is one of the most effective and successful ways to reintroduce a brand, it is not the only way.

Brands can make a comeback appealing to both old and new customers by tapping into nostalgia, completely overhauling and rebooting the brand, and utilizing social media as well as other digital channels.

As brand marketing continues to adapt and evolve, classic brands have managed to stay popular by using celebrity marketing. These classic brands remain successful because they have picked up on the one thing many disregard. That is, consumers strive for things they cannot have, and thus as an alternative, they choose to live vicariously through the products in connection with celebrities.

So, if you are the next brand thinking about making a bold comeback, who better to help market your product than a trusted, popular and admired celebrity. With their large following and strong influence, there is no denying that their help can restore your brand to what it once was.

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Who Wins for Brands – Digital Influencers or Traditional Celebrity Marketing?

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Four ways how digital influencers compete with traditional celebrities’ reach in marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing works and brands are on board. With the increased presence of digital influencers, the role of traditional celebrities as a marketing tool is put into question. As consumers look for the latest trends and products, more companies are recognizing a shift in these consumer behaviors. As a result, brands are turning to digital influencers as the face of their campaigns.

Previously, traditional celebrities were able to influence purchasing decisions based in large part on their name recognition. However, the digital influencers’ increased social media traffic has granted them a larger piece of the marketing pie.

Over the past decade, social media channels and platforms, such as YouTube and Instagram, have accumulated large user bases. With this immense growth, brands are looking at digital influencers and social media stars as a valuable form of social engagement for online advertising campaigns.

The popularity of digital influencers has changed the definition of “celebrity,” forcing brands to rethink their traditional approach to working with celebrities. Listed below are four key insights as to why brands may prefer working with digital influencers.

1. Social Media Presence

Digital influencers have a strong following on social media. While traditional celebrities also have billions of followers across various social media channels, they don’t present the same authenticity as digital influencers. Digital influencers are seen as “regular people,” potentially with a greater online reach than idolized celebrities.  Because of this authenticity and accessibility on social media, digital influencers have a greater appeal to today’s audiences.

2. Price Point

Most often, celebrity endorsements are more expensive than partnerships with digital influencers. Extensive experience and previous track record add to the cost of using traditional celebrities.

3. More Tailored Audience

Followers of digital influencers pay close attention. They are a self-selected, very specific audience seeking advice and inspiration. By choosing specific digital influencers, brands narrow their audience.

4. Credible Third Party Endorsement

Whereas celebrities can provide exposure for a product, digital influencers can provide a certain level of understanding and connection to that product. A Twitter study found that social media users trust influencers nearly as much as they trust their friends. With that level of trust, a brand can benefit from the unique perspective influencers have on a campaign.

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Traditional Media Remains an Optimal Environment for Celebrity Marketing

8625795674_9be45d8f8f_zSocial and digital platforms are increasing in popularity, yet TV, radio and print are still home to some of the most dynamic celebrity marketing campaigns.

While many brands are upping their digital ad spend and taking advantage of the data and analytic tools social media channels are debuting, many brands are still investing deeply in traditional platforms.

These traditional platforms have advantages of their own and remain a powerhouse destination for marketing campaigns. As the use of new media continues to proliferate, traditional media is, at the least, an important supplemental piece to most campaigns.

Here are some of the benefits of using each form of traditional media and some successful celebrity marketing campaigns executed across them.

Radio

Radio and voiceover ads are more cost efficient than ads that run in other media without sacrificing a large reach. Statista found in spring 2016, 54.1% of Americans ages 18-64 listened to the radio each day. This put radio at third on the list of media with the most daily users, behind TV and email.

Buffalo Wild Wings used actor John Goodman, best known for his role in the 1990’s TV show “Roseanne,” to voice radio ads. The brand also released a TV commercial version of the ad, allowing for greater coverage and more recognition across two outlets.

By using a recognizable and strong sounding celebrity voice, Buffalo Wild Wings was able to grab the attention of listeners in key regions they wanted to target.

Print

According to The Association of Magazine Media (MPA), a study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions

showed magazines had the highest average return on advertising spend when compared to display, cross media, linear TV, mobile and digital video.

Aveeno, the skincare brand, has a long running partnership with actress Jennifer Aniston. They have run a variety of different print ads featuring Jennifer in several different publications. Since 2012, the ads have appeared in People, InStyle, Marie Claire, Allure and Elle.

The brand used the medium successfully by executing a long term campaign with different creative across magazines with different readerships.

TV

TV persists as the media platform with the largest daily reach. According to Statista, in spring 2016, 75.5% of US population was exposed to broadcast/cable TV each day.

Pizza Hut partnered with “Saturday Night Live” star, Kristen Wiig for a campaign promoting their brand image as the company that delivers the pizza consumers want, fast.

In the ad, Kristen portrays multiple different Americans all with the same desire of what Pizza Hut can provide. The brand was able to cleverly mimic the diversity of the audience of the medium within the ad, making it relatable to many different consumers who are exposed to it.

The campaign includes a 30 and a 60-second spot supplemented with a radio spot, digital efforts and social media posts, making for a strong 360 campaign.

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