Shipster Investigates: Does Influencer Marketing Really work for Fashion Brands?

Influencer marketing has made waves in the marketing world over the past few years, particularly in the fashion industry. Lifestyle bloggers, Instagram influencers, and YouTube stars have donned the latest garments and charged their ring lights to promote some of the top brands out there.

But does it really work? And what will influencer marketing look like in 2022 and beyond? With the rise of TikTok and ephemeral content (‘disappearing’ content, such as Instagram stories and social media polls), we’ve already seen massive changes in the fashion industry with how content is consumed.

Fast fashion brands have also started using ‘virtual influencers’ - which is exactly what you think it is. CGI generated models have been around for years, but only recently picked up by brands as a means for promoting their products. Unsurprisingly, this has been met with backlash from body positivity groups and communities online. With such an array of diverse models to choose from, utilising computer-generated ones seems like a step backwards.

Let’s take a look at the current state of fashion influencer marketing and how companies can utilise this tactic to generate sales and drive brand loyalty.

What does influencer marketing look like in 2022?

It looks successful - but only if executed well. Influencers can range from micro to macro to celebrity; it’s all about finding that sweet spot for your brand.

An influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers might not necessarily bring you that return on investment you need. It can be a lot of expenditure, without much gain. But for micro influencers, their audiences and followers are engaged, and actually invested in the content these individuals are producing. They’ve probably followed said influencer for a number of years - almost feeling like they know that person like a friend.

Influencer marketing looks saturated in 2022. There are millions of individuals out there who have managed to build successful followings and work with some big name brands. But for many influencers, they’re starting to be far more picky with who and what they promote.

Audiences can be quickly turned off when a seemingly relatable influencer starts promoting something ‘off-brand’. We’ve probably all seen the disclaimer most micro influencers put out: “You guys know I wouldn’t promote something I didn’t use myself.”

And for fast fashion brands, 2022 is looking even more different.

Influencers are moving away from promoting ‘fast fashion’ on their grids, with the rise in more sustainable, evergreen fashion. This isn’t a negative however; it just means more brands are being held accountable for the methods they use to produce their garments. In order to work with some of the top influencers out there, sustainable fashion is the only way forward.

Aside from influencers, you could also take advantage of utilising brand ambassadors. These are consistent promoters of your business and work alongside you to promote your brand. They know your products and clothing inside out and have probably been a huge advocate of your company for years.

Try to pick your ambassadors carefully. Engaging with influencers who have often shared your clothing without working with them directly is a great way to find people who really believe in your message and brand. It’s also likely that their audience is aware of you already and therefore more likely to buy from you.

Key statistics for fashion influencer marketing

Last year, almost 60% of marketers said that influencer marketing was one of the most effective marketing trends. That’s not something to be sniffed at. This means that they put it above tactics such as SEO and video content. Although it’s important to note that they didn’t replace these tactics with influencer marketing; they complemented their strategies with it.

77% of fashion micro influencers utilise Instagram - and prefer it to any other channel. So although TikTok might be the flavour of the moment, Instagram is still on top when it comes to fashion influencer marketing. This is good news for brands, which means you can still tag products and drive conversions, as opposed to simply building brand awareness. But with TikTok trending like there’s no tomorrow, it’s still important not to miss out on this key platform.

When it comes to audience engagement, Gen Z trusts influencers the most - probably because it’s the main form of advertisement they’re subjected to. This is a key statistic to bear in mind, however, when thinking about your fashion brand. Where is your audience engaging with influencers? How are they consuming influencer content?

But does influencer marketing actually work for fashion brands?

The simple answer is yes. But it’s more complicated than that. You might be working with some of the top influencers out there, each with their own brand and demographic that meets all your wants and needs

However, if your product quality is shoddy, your customer service is lacking, and you fall down when it comes to delivery and logistics, there’s no amount of influencer marketing and likes that can help you.

A carefully planned out influencer marketing strategy will ensure you’re working with the right individuals for your brand - not just the hot topic right now. You want to build relationships with your influencers and build their trust, which in turn will build their followers’ trust.

How do you find the right fashion influencers?

Good question. It takes some research and in-depth planning. But the more time you spend at this stage, the less likely you are to have to do a lot of damage control at the end.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to influencers who work with your competitors. This simply means they have the right demographic and followers. Most influencers don’t mind working with a couple of similar brands - just ensure they’re honest and upfront about who they’re working with so you don’t end up burnt. The more integrity your chosen influencers have, the more likely you are to see great results.

A great tip to keep in mind is not to overload your brand with influencers. A few carefully selected individuals is much easier to manage and more likely to generate results than a plethora of influencers with poor followings and bad engagement. Engage with your chosen influencers on a personal level - and don’t send a blanket email to everyone. Influencers tend to move in tight circles and word gets round.

More and more fashion brands are working with micro influencers in 2022 - and it’s working. These influencers tend to have followings that can range anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 (sometimes even less). But their audience is engaged and actively wants to see what that individual is up to. They know this influencer probably receives free products and clothing, or is paid for some posts, but they’re okay with it, because they trust what this person has to say - and trust is a hard thing to build.

Many influencers or content creators state that their most important way of vetting brands is to see how well they would fit with their audience. It’s not about the individual any more, but the people that follow them.