‘ALDI nerds’ and other grocery influencers promote without pay
While recently speaking with Bob Gilbreath, general manager of Ahalogy, an influencer company for consumer goods brands and retailers, he told me that marketing budgets for private brands are small, so influencer marketing tends to not make the cut. “If it does, it’s a small piece,” he said. Gilbreath is also vice president of social at Quotient, which acquired Ahalogy.
But another reason for retailers perhaps not devoting paid marketing money toward influencers to promote their store brands is that they don’t need to — there’s enough free promotion happening organically. CNN last week reported on a few grocery influencers who simply run Facebook groups and post on Instagram out of pure adoration for a grocer, and not surprisingly ALDI, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Whole Foods Market and Costco Wholesale made the list.
The article tracked down a few popular influencers such as a Detroit-based stay-at-home mom named Diane Youngpeter, who runs a blog called “ALDI Nerd” and manages a Facebook fan group with nearly half a million members sharing their love for ALDI. The article noted she is not paid by ALDI and her devotion is driven out of pure loyalty for a brand — and that loyalty has been met head on with a woman who is naturally savvy about using social media. Of course, her blog, if popular enough, will earn some money based on digital advertising on the site. How much isn’t really known, but likely not too much, as there hasn’t been a new post since February. One thing’s for certain, she is talented and engaging, proven by the tagline of her site alone: “All ALDI, Al Di Time!”
Another interesting example in the article is the “I Heart Publix” group on Facebook run by Michelle Atwood. It has been live for nearly 10 years and has more than 116,000 followers. There’s also the Instagram account “Costco_doesitagain,” with more than 500,000 followers, focusing on healthy foods found at the retailer. Posts naturally include some of Costco’s private brands like Kirkland Signature. There are offshoots for other retailers like Target, too.
A November Vox article also discussed Trader Joe’s popularity among influencers that Store Brands discussed along with trends of influencers and private brands in a recent article. Trader Joe’s has more than a dozen influencers on Instagram alone, highlighting favorite products rolled out by the retailer.
There is a continuing gray area though between influencer and retailer. As the CNN article mentioned, Kroger Krazy, an influencer site dedicated to coupons and savings to be had at Kroger, does work with the retailer in a way. The owner of the blog, Katie Cooksey, does receive weekly advertising from Kroger to highlight and receives invites to corporate events. In the article, she says she does it all in an effort to build community around Kroger.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does require social media influencers to disclose if they are being paid to promote a product, and it has guidelines to help any influencer getting into the game.
The ALDI Nerd’s last video is one of her receiving a Valentine’s Day gift from ALDI and she’s gushing about the products sent to her, so it’s kind of fuzzy territory, but she told Store Brands that she isn't sponsored by ALDI in any way. She said several influencers received the box of Valentine's goodies. One thing's clear, the influencer and retailer relationship is one that will likely grow.