How influencers are changing the fashion industry for the better

This week Cosmopolitan took a bold step in the fashion advertising space by announcing their Influencer Network; a group of social media stars with whom clients can collaborate to forge a closer relationship with their customers. River Island is the first brand to take advantage of this network, which will grow over time, and in doing so, both publication and brand have demonstrated a knowledge of their audience that puts them ahead of the curve.

The Observer has recognised that the fashion magazine industry facing its toughest time yet. Although Vogue showed in October that it is reluctant to recognise the legitimacy of influencers outside of the industry elite (eliciting an outcry from the blogging community), major publication readership is falling and the fashion industry cannot afford to ignore the power of the influencer anymore. In fact, our insight shows that the reach of bloggers matched that of magazine content during Fashion Week. However, reach alone is insufficient to secure that true, emotional connection.

Brands and publications have long valued the popularity of A-list stars to sell their products, but influencers are not created equal and today’s customer seeks a deeper connection with brands. This can be found in the influential voices which they recognise and trust. Starcount joined forces with Magnetic Media this week for an industry breakfast where we discussed the importance of influencers who are Makers rather than Shakers. Although Shakers have the largest networks, Makers can offer more passion and knowledge, making them 23% more effective at driving action within their networks and 3 times as likely to be early adopters. 

Furthermore, it is not enough to have the most popular influencers; they must be the right ones. Popular beauty and lifestyle blogger, Zoella, has 11.5 million subscribers and is the number 1 most important influencer for our Affordable High Street Shopper audience segment.

Fashion Insiders, on the other hand, place their trust in journalists and commentators such as Hilary Alexander or Sasha Wilkins (otherwise known as LibertyLondonGirl).

Different brands will continue to have different needs but the collaboration of publications, brands and the right influencers, such as the Cosmopolitan Influencer Network, is offering a unique, new opportunity.

If we look at our segmentation of Affordable High Street Shoppers as a whole, we can see that River Island has made a smart choice in recognising the power of influencers upon their consumers, who value both their preferred brands alongside their favourite influencers.

Ultimately, the A-list and industry insiders will continue to be an important asset for publications and brands (some more than others), but to ignore the influencer is to ignore a valuable and profitable opportunity to get ahead.

River Island may be the first to utilise Cosmopolitan’s Influencer Network but it will be exciting to see how this and other influencer opportunities progress and shape the fashion industry over 2017.

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