There is no doubt the way consumers make purchases is changing. Both manufacturers and retailers in the consumer healthcare industry are looking at new approaches to engage their customers, influence their path to purchase and create new channels for where the product is sold. In 2018, consumer health influencer marketing continues to drive innovation in consumer engagement.
Today’s shopper has the desire to be actively engaged and develop a sense of familiarity with the brand before they ultimately make a purchase. To capture the attention of their desired demographic, consumer products companies are tapping into the networks of some of the most influential bloggers and celebrities on social media platforms. In recent years we have seen this trend primarily in health & beauty and the retail industries, but consumer healthcare companies are starting to take advantage of this opportunity as well.
Examples of Influencer Marketing
Marketers began using influencer marketing on social media platforms as a more authentic way to spread awareness, gain followers, and ultimately customers. Influencers typically have a more engaged set of followers in a specific demographic based on common interests. This allows a consumer healthcare company the opportunity to leverage a marketing platform with users who are likely to have a sincere interest in their product offering.
The LA Times quoted more than 500 Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Masks were sold after beauty blogger Arielle Charnas of Something Navy posted a Snapchat reviewing the product. This strategy drives sales because the blogger’s followers can relate to them and are more likely to trust their opinion than a magazine or commercial advertisement.
Carly A. Heitlinger of Carly The Prepster (220K followers) recently partnered with Johnson & Johnson to educate consumers and promote Zyrtec through a panel discussion and a targeted Instagram marketing campaign. While this may not create a direct and immediate spike in sales it will generate awareness with her audience. Mom blogger Emily Jackson of Ivory Lane (360K followers), paired up with Pampers to promote their new Pampers Pure collection. Olivia Rink (214K followers) and Ashley Paige of Lvdmorethncrrts (14K followers) are just a few bloggers who have also paired up with consumer health companies to promote their products. In total, these four women reach nearly one million Instagram users daily.
Influencers can also be used to increase sales and turn followers into customers. Allowing influencers to promote a specific code that gives their followers a discount on the company’s products will incentivize followers to buy products and will allow for better tracking of how effective that influencer is in bringing customers. “Giveaways” are another way for both parties to increase their reach, followers, and engagement with the potential of the losers becoming interested enough to purchase the products and for the winners to become repeat customers. Many giveaways require those interested to follow both the influencer and the brand’s account, comment on the post, or even tag friends in a comment to increase the post and the brand’s impression, reach and engagement.
Disclosures in Influencer Marketing
Consumers are becoming more informed about these relationships between brands and social media influencers. This brings the question of credibility into play; however, studies show that a majority of consumers appreciate disclosure of brand-influencer relationship as it promotes brand honesty.
To combat the questions of credibility, marketers must find influencers that are authentic and relevant to their products and their company. The longest and strongest relationships between brands and influencers are when influencers are genuinely fans of the company, their products, and their mission.
The Federal Trade Commission is watchful of this emerging trend even though influencer marketing is not traditional paid advertising. The government agency has been stepping up monitoring and regulation efforts in recent years by issuing warning letters to 21 influencers regarding their undisclosed posts with branded products and an Endorsement Guide in September 2017.
The comprehensive guidelines can be found on the FTC’s website, but some of the main points include clearly disclosing financial or familial relationships any influencers have with a brand and said disclosure is in plain sight, clearly explained. It reminds brands that built-in social media disclosures may not be adequate according to FTC guidelines and to avoid short, ambiguous items such as #collab or #spon. Also, do not disclose the influencer’s relationship in places where users have to click through pages or expand posts in order to see the disclosure.
Before starting an influencer relationship, make sure the entire marketing organization and the influencer clearly understand the FTC guidelines. This should ensure that all disclosures are clear, placed in highly visible areas of the post, and favor openness. Marketers should also continue to monitor new FTC regulations and their influencer’s accounts to ensure that posts are displayed in the correct form and in a clear tone. Keeping your legal team in the loop during these campaigns is smart as there is a lot of uncertainty and limited precedent in the legal world of influencer marketing.
As more people, brands, and organizations join social media, there are greater opportunities for influencers to play a role in consumer health marketing. With questions from the FTC of deceptive advertising, it is important to proceed with influencer marketing with some caution. Executed correctly, this new style of earned and paid media can help brands spread their brand message in a more authentic, detailed, and natural way. As influencer marketing starts driving sales in the consumer health market, it is important to determine whether you should integrate an influencer program into your marketing mix.
Co-Authors and contributions by Emily Brice and Michelle Tartalio