Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.
Everything has its lifecycle; a rise and fall in popularity subconsciously driven by macro trends. In jewellery, the past ten years have been about the rise of brands, but as wider trends dictated that consumers lost trust in brands (fashion and media brands) as our knowledge of the dark arts of marketing developed, it was bloggers who created the zeitgeist. They are real people, just like us, after all – we can trust them. But can we really? And are we now over these super-influencers?
So-called super-influencers might have enormous followings online, but much of what they post about is paid for by the very brands that we turned to for an alternative from – and very little of this is disclosed. There are now multiple influencer agencies, set up to help this quiet flow of cash. Then there is the issue of buying followers. We all know it can be done, so this leaves us questioning whether these super-influencers are inflating their numbers. A friend of mine who is social media savvy says a tell can be the number of likes each post gets – if the total followers are high, but the post engagement is fairly low in comparison, then there is a good chance that money has been paid.
A quick Google search on the lifespan of influencers will give you pages and pages of conflicting results. Business of Fashion suggested last week that “commercial tie-ups with the super-influencer may soon yield diminishing returns”, while The Guardian brands Millennial influencers “the new stars of web advertising”. What most sources do agree on is that change is afoot.
Many jewellery brands and retailers I have spoken to are getting fed up of having to pay influencers (some of who will demand payment just to attend a product launch, with no guarantee of any coverage). And it would seem consumers are similarly fed up of being force fed sponsored content masquerading as organic endorsements.
This has led to the rise of a new type of online influencer – the micro-influencer. This could be anyone: you, me, your best friend, your mum. While the number of followers will be lower, the trust is higher and so the impact is more powerful. While you can see right through a Kim Kardashian paid post, you trust your classmate when they say they gush about a certain product. And brands have been taking note – you’ll also find a stream of marketing intelligence on the web dedicated to this topic.
This is a hard one for brands to control, however. Monetise it too heavily and it falls victim to all the same pitfalls as the super-influencers. So while brands are still working that one out, it seems that super-influencers like top-ranking bloggers and digital-savvy celebrities can still count on paychecks from the biggest jewellery brands. Karlie Kloss, Jourdan Dunn, Ruby Rose and Fei Fei Sun are certainly snapping their way to the bank this week after a new deal to promote Swarovski’s AW17 jewellery collection. Looks like the Supers just got a new definition.