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11/02/2021

Marketing Report: Earning Own Brand Influencers

Influencers and celebrity endorsements are generally associated with national name brands, but private brands are getting in on the social action.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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The basics of marketing tell us that attaching a prominent or reputable face or name to a product increases the likelihood of catching someone’s attention, and eventually sales of a given product. The examples of this with well-known celebrities and name-brand companies are endless. In the private brand space, it’s more common than you might think. Just like branded products, store brands thrive when assisted by a popular influencer or social personality.

According to a study released in June by Inmar Intelligence, 84% of respondents said they had made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation, with 61% of consumers saying they listen to influencers because they trust their product/category expertise.

“Retailers should utilize influencers to be part of conversations that are already happening in the social space,” said Leah Logan, VP of media products at Inmar. “Retailers should be using tools like social listening to understand how they add value to conversations happening and then utilize authentic, vetted influencers to use their own voices to talk about what’s important to the retailer. They need to find influencers who actually relate to their shoppers and can be part of the conversation to relay their message.”

Katie Burkhardt, director of brand strategy at Daymon agrees.

“A collaboration should, first and foremost, reflect the preferences of the retailer’s current consumer base,” Burkhardt said. “The bonus of working with an influencer is that they come with a large, devoted fan base. Designer and celebrity collaborations also help give a private label credibility. The goal is to create excitement and newness in a retail environment where many products are alike.”

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In addition to its name brand products, retail giant Amazon has multiple private label brands that perform well. Amazon Essentials, Nature’s Wonder, Mama Bear, Amazing Baby and Amazon Elements are just a few of those.

Amazon benefits from influencers who post its private label products, even without a formal advertising sponsorship. In fact, many private brands use this approach. These influencers tag Amazon products and use the “Like to Know” platform for monetization. The website enables users to shop directly for the products seen used by influencers, in categories ranging from baby products to fitness to much more.

While the influencers can be used to get followers interested in Amazon’s store brands without official sponsorship, some brands, such as Amazon Fresh, often partner with influencers officially. Julianna Astrid, Daniel Nguyen, and family influencer Sheila, ‘@OliviaSkyeandCo’ on Instagram, are all part of the recently launched Amazon Fresh influencer campaign. The latter has several sponsors, one of which being Amazon Fresh. Professional photos are taken of her and her family with products casually in the frame, and then are posted with a long caption including “#ad” that talks about the products.

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Walmart, like Amazon, is another example of a major retailer that often uses niche influencers to promote its private brands and services. Walmart’s Ozark Trail brand is promoted in camping and outdoor-themed TikToks, which feature traveling TikTokers “TheLoversPassport” — a boyfriend and girlfriend couple who use TikTok to document their travel adventures.

Walmart has used influencers of all levels of fame to promote its store brand products, though the use of celebrities is more common with the promotion of “exclusive” items. Actress Drew Barrymore released a cookware brand, Beautiful by Drew Barrymore, exclusively at Walmart after previously working with Walmart on the launch of her clean beauty brand, Flower cosmetics.

Walmart has also been known to use celebrities and influencers for its new efforts in live-streaming. Earlier this year, the retailer launched its Cookshop live-streaming program, which featured shoppable cooking videos hosted by famous figures. Hosts have included Patti LaBelle, celeb chef Jaime Oliver, actor Neil Patrick Harris and NBA superstar LeBron James.

These influencer promotions seem to be working for Walmart, primarily with its private brands. As of early last year, Walmart’s Great Value brand was earning about $28 billion annually.

Similar to Amazon’s model of unpaid promotion by influencers, many companies have found it profitable to gain marketing just by developing a core fanbase. Chains like Trader Joe’s, Costco and Aldi have all developed strong loyalty particularly among millennials, which is then used in a way of free marketing on social media.

Private label products are especially popular with these fanbases for being cheaper food alternatives with unique flavors. Stay-at-home mom Diane Youngpeter runs a blog called “ALDI Nerd,” and manages a Facebook fan group with nearly half a million members sharing their love for the discount chain. She is not paid by Aldi, and is instead a passionate fan, whose interest has led to added awareness for the grocery chain.

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Trader Joe’s is arguably the best example of fandom being used to spur promotion for the chain online. The store’s unique and ever-changing selection of private label items has led to a large online following, including regular people running Trader Joe’s “fan accounts” on Instagram, where new products are highlighted and reviewed. Instagram user @traderjoesobsessed is a prime example, as the account has over half a million followers.

“As long as consumers’ use of social media platforms continues to grow, influencer marketing will be a key component of private brands’ digital marketing strategies,” said Burkhardt of Daymon. “As private brands become more focused in assortment and scope, there is even opportunity to tap into micro-influencers, influencers who specialize in certain niches, to reach new, more specific target markets.”

While branded products may have more notable and
frequent endorsements that appear in advertisements, there is a rich market for influencer promotion in the private label space, with room to grow as store brands gain popularity.