Influencers, these new consumer darlings

This is the whole point of this collaboration: to capture these consumers who are not very present in front of a television. 15-34 year olds now spend less than one hundred and ten minutes a day in front of the small skylight, compared to nearly one hundred and seventy in 2012, according to Médiamétrie. Conversely, the time devoted to computers and mobiles is close to five hours a day for all ages; social networks are at the top of the most popular mobile applications. Enough to make it a new “place to be” for consumer brands. “Influence is the new prime time. It is an embodied communication that generates much more trust because it is more authentic. It’s not the brand that speaks,” notes Nathalie Jacquier, brand and media director for the Carrefour group. “There are messages for which the brand is not legitimate. Digital has become our second item in terms of media spending after TV. On the first, we embody messages through influencers. On the second, the brand shows”, confirms Émilie Vantajol, senior marketing manager for Lipton drinks (PepsiCo group).
With amounts of investment without any comparison with television, it is not surprising to see these brands with their eyes riveted on social networks, Instagram in mind. The overwhelming majority of actors surveyed confirm that media budgets have been reallocated in favor of social networks and collaborations with influencers. These have the specific advantage of digital to be able to trace and count all the KPIs (key performance indicators), up to sales when the content creator issues a promotional code. For a long time, however, collaborations were sporadic. "Fashion and beauty retailers and brands, such as Zara, H&M and L'Oréal, have quickly structured their influence, with incubators for the latter, in order to train influencers and deliver them brand values ​​and information on their products,” notes Christophe Manceau, director of strategic planning at Kantar Media. Illustration made with the cosmetic brand of LVMH. “We arrived on social networks by creating our own posts, but the explosion of content also implies more diversity, testifies Élise Ducret, marketing director of L’Oréal France. We therefore quickly structured our communication with influencers according to each brand, from product donations to the choice of a muse. »
YouTubers tied with Macron
Still now, beauty and fashion are one step ahead in the field of influence, more than 30% of posts resulting from collaborations relate to these two categories, according to the Reech firm. Among the brands that collaborated the most in France in 2020, we find Zara, Sephora, the pure Chinese fashion player Shein, Nike, H&M or At the international level, it is more or less the same sectors that stand out, only Walmart is an exception in the food sector; it is one of the most important content activators via influencers. In this regard, the pioneers are to be found in China, where they have become powerful vectors for online sales.
China, a country under real influenceWith more than a quarter of sales made on the web, the link between social networks, influencers and e-commerce has existed for a long time in China. As brand websites are almost non-existent, everything happens on a few key platforms, so influencers have the mission of creating a brand or brand preference… and directly generating sales. In this area, Viya is THE essential star, she became a millionaire thanks to this activity. On the beauty side, the androgynous Austin Li Jiaqi stands out. The "king of lipstick" managed to sell 15,000 in five minutes, thus dethroning the record of Jack Ma, the founder of the number one Chinese e-tailer, Alibaba. “As influencing is a very common practice in China, actors, singers, models or other celebrities also regularly become influencers. One of them is pregnant? She will be approached by brands for pregnancy products. Anyone else on a diet? This is an opportunity for brands of slimming products, etc. “explains Betty Touzeau, co-founder of the firm Paris 2 Beijing. With live shopping, which has been a real lever for online sales for five years in this country, the platforms are trying to go up the vein by taking shares in the agencies of these supersellers. Thus, Bytedance, the company that owns TikTok (Douyin in China), invested 1.48% in Weinian on July 2. Weinyan? It is the company that pulls the strings of the contracts of the biggest influencers in China, including the famous Viya. The Alibaba site relies on influence to try to make a name for itself beyond Chinese borders. Its objective: to mobilize more than 1 million worldwide by 2023.

Today, the practice is also becoming widespread on the Old Continent. Pepsi, Nestlé, Carrefour, Lidl, Nestlé… So many big names that have accelerated their efforts in terms of influence, to the point of constituting a strategic axis for some like Yves Rocher and Jennyfer. A very vast field opens up to them: France lists some 150,000 influencers, that is to say people with online prescription power thanks to their content distributed mainly on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat. . Among them, there are different strata of influencers, to be activated according to the objectives defined and the budget allocated to the project. “Between 50,000 and 300,000 subscribers, these are accounts that work on brand engagement. Beyond that, we mainly work on notoriety, ”said Delphine Benedic, international marketing director of the marketing agency Territory Influence. The most "bankable" stars, who bring in money, come from the world of reality shows, Nabilla in the lead. The YouTube video platform brings out a lot of comedians, like Cyprien or Squeezie, working more or less frequently for companies. The most famous of them, Norman, has collaborated with Fanta, the Crunch chocolate brand and Daniel Wellington watches, among others. Their videos regularly exceed 10 million views, only the Euro 2020 football final (12 million) and a few speeches by President Emmanuel Macron have recently done better on TV!

Influencers, these new darlings of the FMCG

A composite portrait of French influencers

To structure this speaking out, major groups have defined the place to be given to influence. “For each highlight, we now define whether we make a relay via influence and how”, indicates Isabelle Schmidt, director of communication at Lidl. Three people take care of social networks internally, a team that has been attached to the advertising department since January, “because it is also a part of the business”, she underlines. The brand acknowledges paying few influencers, but relies on those who already love the chain of stores and claim it on the Web. Isabelle Schmidt's teams also regularly organize trips and events to provide them with content to post on their social networks. Others refine the choice of influencers to recruit, depending on their strategy. “We select micro- and macro-influencers for each of our lines of communication. Some will talk about our CSR, others will relay our innovations. Finally, some are chosen to talk about our loyalty program,” explains Célia Darnault, communications, media and CSR manager at Nescafé Dolce Gusto.

From product donation to paid contracts
To select these spokespersons, some companies launch calls on their website or on their social networks (L’Oréal, Mademoiselle Bio, Petit Bateau, Tape à l’oeil, Nestlé, etc.). Objective: to trade products for substantiated opinions. "The donation of products is what constitutes the essential of collaborations, and it is the essential first step", supports Guillaume Doki-Thonon, founder and CEO of Reech. Here, no hard and stumbling change, it is rather an exchange of good practices. "The gift has a value, this type of agreement is therefore completely legal, confirms Sadry Porlon, lawyer at the Paris bar specializing in influence. The only imperative is to mention the brand and the nature of the post, sponsored. To find the rare pearl, brands most often turn to influencer marketing agencies that work on behalf of influencers. “When we work with a talent and their agency, we establish a brief that we support together, we agree on the content, the number of posts and on the objectives aimed at in terms of views, impressions, comments , likes, etc. before signing a contract”, explains Élodie Péribère, marketing director of Fanta (Coca-Cola).
Some service providers make the exploitation of their inventory available, for a fee, brands and retailers can thus specify their criteria on the platform in order to choose among the content creators most in line with their needs. their target.
Looking for opportunities
According to each search, influencers are scored, noted. “We make recommendations with specific castings to clients. We also regularly monitor social networks to seize all opportunities for collaboration,” says Sacha Lemaure, senior project manager at the Ogilvy agency. She works in particular on behalf of Electrolux, which defines at the beginning of the year a number of products for its seeding strategy. Understand: these products are sent in return for content, the agency must find the most opportune time to offer them to influencers and to do so, when one of them announces a move, renovates their kitchen or mentions a broken down device, for example.
The Influencer LexiconInfogram
A “wild west” to frame
From 50,000 subscribers, compensation becomes more common in these partnerships. At Sans Complexe, the third lingerie brand on the French market, the budgets dedicated to influence do not make it possible to contract with all the influencers, gifts are more commonplace, but certain collaborations require untying the purse strings. “The biggest collaborations, that is to say certain posts with influencers, will be remunerated, because this content remains on their profile, and their participation in our live shopping”, specifies Corinne Duquin-Andrier, marketing and digital director of Sans Complex. Whatever the profile, the brands then measure the success of these partnerships by scrutinizing the reach, that is to say the number of users reached as well as the number of interactions generated. If these partnerships are being structured, a lot of vagueness still persists about this speaking out. The Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority (ARPP) regulates influencer marketing. The only imperative to date: specify that the post stems from a commercial partnership by mentioning, after a hashtag, the mention “collaboration” for example. This obligation alone is slowly becoming more commonplace, and in 2020, more than 70% of sponsored posts were mentioned as such – compared to 33% in 2018, there is better! , according to the latest ARPP report.
The other nebula lies in the relationship between influencers and brands. "It's the Wild West regarding remuneration, which fluctuates from simple to quadruple, because no salary grid exists", admits a professional in the sector. Only the number of followers governs the supposed importance of an influencer... However, it is very easy to buy fake subscribers on the Web, social networks having few weapons to date to distinguish " false” from “real” subscribers. Finally, the profession of influencer, often carried out under the status of autoentrepreneur, does not currently have any legal framework. Only child influencers must have been approved since October 2020 to declare their activity and be remunerated accordingly on a blocked account, as are child models. For parents, on the other hand, professionalization and supervision are not yet very structured. Likes and hearts ultimately convert quite a bit into euros, most of them.
At Carrefour, internal and external spokespersons
At Carrefour, part of the influence is managed internally. The “Carrefour family” brings together around twenty content creators, sometimes with less than 10,000 subscribers, for whom Carrefour communicates on good deals and provides them with promotional codes.
A dozen major Instagrammers are also selected via the Ctzar agency. In this case, it will be either to talk about the brand's own brands and nutrition, or to address the group's CSR Act for Food commitment. “For these influencers, in addition to the contractualized posts, we communicate to them all our big campaigns in order to create a common thread, it is up to them to relay them or not. We create events and challenges specifically for them. And we follow, of course, the measurement of the success of their posts, ”says Nathalie Jacquier, strategic marketing director of the Carrefour group. The latter specifies that the reach, that is to say the scope of the communication, is much better through influencers than when Carrefour expresses itself directly.
At Jennyfer, small budgets but big ambitions
"We don't want customers, we want fans", summarizes Jean-Philippe Evrot, digital marketing and communication director of Don't Call Me Jennyfer, the new name of the fashion brand. This shows the importance of social networks in its strategy... The only problem with this shift that began in 2018, Jennyfer is far from having the same budgets as its competitors Berskha, Pull& Bear or H&M.
His solution: create "squads of influencers" already equipped with strong communities to target 10-19 year olds and make them passionate about the brand. Léna Situations and Mayadorable, to name but a few, have co-signed a collection with Jennyfer, some of which have been sold on the site in a few hours! Influencers are even displayed in the windows of the brand's stores. "They offer us their notoriety online, we make them emerge in the physical world", assures Gregory Le Perlier, media manager at Don't Call Me Jennyfer. In addition to this strong resonance, the brand maintains its online community via media created during the first confinement and now broadcast every day on TikTok, Break.
At L’Oréal, a finely crafted strategy
The behemoth of beauty, seasoned in influence, first selects, for each brand, a muse who is among the macro-influencers. "It must be in line with the values, it will be for example a buyer of organic products to represent La Provençale or Sanoflore", specifies Élise Ducret, marketing director of L'Oréal France. Recognized beauty bloggers are also chosen to act as brand ambassadors. They are therefore regularly supplied with news and products. L'Oréal also creates dedicated experiences, highlights to make them ambassadors, such as Sananas for Nyx and Noholita for Lancôme. In addition to these contractual relationships, around a hundred "mid-influencers" (between 50,000 and 500,000 subscribers) and hand-picked micro-influencers receive products from L'Oréal brands in preview, in the hope that they relay them on their account. On the platform side, “Instagram is preferred for statutory brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Armani. More accessible brands like Dop will prefer TikTok. Snapchat is used for promotional codes on Maybelline and L’Oréal”, specifies Élise Ducret.
At Yves Rocher, a tool for conquest
Since 2019, for the Breton group, influence has become a tool supporting its expansion. “It allows us to be known quickly in a new market, as we are currently doing in Ghana,” says Léa Fischer, international social media manager for Yves Rocher internationally. The brand manages its own influence actions thanks to the Reech platform. She selects influencers in affinity with her values. The teams then look to see if Yves Rocher has an e-commerce activity on site. If so, promotional codes will be distributed to the selected influencers.
Thus, in Chile, some of them, working exclusively with Yves Rocher on beauty, even receive commissions when they trigger purchases in this way! If the Yves Rocher site is not commercial, the group will then prefer in-store happenings, often strongly relayed. For these highlights, each area social manager receives guidelines adapted to their budgets dedicated to influence. The privileged channels, as well as the products and scents put forward, of course adapt to the codes of the country. If Europe is a fan of Instagram, the Saudis prefer Snapchat. In Israel, an influencer, who has become the face of Yves Rocher in the country, even appears on the loyalty card dear to the cosmetics brand.

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