Influencer R&D: The New Landscape of Brand Partnerships July 2, 2015

Written by: Jordan Lee
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As the landscape of bloggers and social influencers changes, so do the partnerships that drive their content. As bloggers, YouTube stars, and Instagrammers become more popular, the campaigns become more robust. Product seeding is almost an expectation and not innovation in this landscape.

Bloggers partnering with retailers is nothing new. However, over the past few years, brands have been looking for ways influencers can shape their consumers’ experiences offline and bring innovation to influencer marketing. Target was one of the first brands to collaborate with these influential social stars and create product consumers can actually buy. Baublebar is another brand consistently partnering with bloggers to create products. Some mainstay products, like the Courtney Bib Necklace named for Courtney Kerr, owe their moniker to bloggers – a place in fashion typically reserved for models and actresses.

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Image via Target

The recent announcement of blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere partnering with Nordstrom to create a product line should come as no surprise. Undoubtedly, it’s a smart move for retailers. They are leveraging online popularity in a way that directly impacts sales in addition to any brand affinity generated by social media.

According to a study by Imperial, expert content by influencers lifted purchase intent over brand content by 38 percent, and 83 percent over user reviews. Influencers are critical to the purchase journey for consumers, so the extension of this is naturally influencer-created products.

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Image via Nordstrom

This collaboration correlates to the new normal for bloggers and social influencers. Those with larger star power are looking for more meaningful partnerships – for them this is a career path.

This new normal isn’t just product creation, either. YouTube stars are getting their own shows and some, like Flula Borg who recently appeared in Pitch Perfect 2, are landing movie roles. Others like Zoe Sugg are writing popular books.

Influencers are already becoming more selective about brand partnerships. Just having enough budget for fees is no longer going to land you a deal. Brands with thoughtful, meaningful integrations are going to win in the future of this landscape.