Influencer marketing is still a thing

Influencers become independent entrepreneurs

Developing your own product or a new brand is now part of the business for well-known influencers. The social media stars advertise more and more on their own behalf and act entrepreneurially. The beginning of a change of course?


For big social media stars with hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers, product placements for advertising companies are only part of their flourishing business. Even classic merchandising, in which well-known personalities and an existing product are interlinked, is no longer the method of first choice for them. In the meantime, the influencers with high reach have so much equity that they have become entrepreneurs with their own products and brands. They advertise these on their social channels, conduct influencer marketing with colleagues in the industry and thus regularly generate sales hits.

2018 | book

Influencer Marketing

For companies and influencers: strategies, platforms, instruments, legal framework. With many examples

This book explains in a well-founded and pragmatic way all the decisive success factors of influencer marketing - both for companies and for influencers. Marketing professionals learn how to best integrate influencer marketing into their communication strategy, how to find the right influencer and which specific rules are used to ensure that cooperation works optimally.

As a result, established social media giants are increasingly emancipating themselves from paying advertising partners. However, this does not mean that there is a decrease in the volume of advertising on social media. Rather, this development entails two options for action for social media marketers: Either they dig deeper and deeper into their pockets to win big influencers for an advertising deal. Or they make their advertising partners an offer of cooperation that, in addition to lucrative earning opportunities, can also increase their fame.

Products as fan articles

In the cosmetics and clothing industry in particular, companies are increasingly opting for the second way. The Karlsruhe drugstore chain Dm, for example, systematically relies on new product developments with changing influencers and thus achieves enormous sales. The "Bilou" cosmetics line from Youtuber Bianca Heinicke, for example, triggered a real hype among female fans when it went on sale in 2014. "In the first few days, the products generated such a high demand that stocks quickly sold out," recalls Springer author Frank Deges in the chapter "Fifth Step: Campaign Management" of the book "Quick Guide Influencer Marketing" (page 111). It is questionable, however, whether the shower foams would be popular with young consumers even without Bianca Heinicke's popularity, as the core product is not designed differently from many other branded products.

In any case, it is reasonable to assume that the followers primarily want to get closer to their YouTube idol through a purchase and that the product is more or less arbitrary. In this case, there is no longer any separation from the fan article. "With this brand and communication model, the positioning consists in the" productification "of the person Heinickes alias Bibi. That means, brand positioning, testimonial and infuencer become one and an enormous reach is generated before the product is even available on the market", The Springer authors Annette Bruce and Christoph Jeromin confirm in the book chapter "Brand Strategic Fit in Influencer Marketing: The Brand in the Field of Tension Between Continuity and Freedom" (page 61).

Between hype and shit storm

For Dm, the success of Bilou meant something like a starting shot to continue the concept of influencer products. Since then, almost all the female social media giants have been alternately represented in the drugstore shelves. But does this offer actually meet customer needs? Opinions are divided on this in the social networks. Younger teenage followers in particular always respond positively to their idols' product launches. The elderly, on the other hand, are increasingly critical of the abundance of products in drugstores.

For example, when the popular social media couple Maren and Tobias Wolf presented their specially designed shower products from the Dm house brand Balea on their social channels. These products were preceded by a year of hard work, they emphasize and receive derisive comments such as "ridiculous". Some users also say that their critical statements have been deleted. Good marketing looks different and the so-called social media stars in particular should be aware of this.

Credible brand concepts

As young as the market for influencer products is, it quickly becomes oversaturated in places, as is the case with all trends that are over-penetrated. For social media idols and cooperating companies, it is therefore increasingly a matter of recognizing real consumer needs, which then have to be translated into sustainable, credible brand concepts. Some influencers are already very successful in this area and have founded their own companies. In addition to fashion labels and cosmetics lines, there are even alternative concepts here, such as the Brunswick influencer Louisa Dellert's shop, which is geared towards sustainability and environmental protection. Like many of her colleagues in the industry, she published a book that was very well received by her followers.

Influencers who develop beyond individual products and go on sale with their own labels also have good prospects of success because of their industry colleagues: The advertising professionals simply advertise each other and thus achieve greater credibility than is the case with classic product placements by paying companies . In the case of Bilou, too, Bianca Heinicke and the manufacturing umbrella company Nuwena are certain that the shower foams are more than an influencer product. In the future, they want to get started in Asia and use the Chinese webo influencer Chonny for marketing.