What is the new reality post Pandemic for creators and brands?

Wow, what an insane and completely unexpected implosion the pandemic has been in the world of social media influence. Prior to the pandemic, social media was part of the marketing mix for most brands, from start-ups to the top 5 brands in each industry. With the total collapse of the retail infrastructure as we knew it, and the majority of the population being quarantined in one way or another, direct to consumer (D2C) became everyone’s go to. And with this paradigm shift, so did the valuation of content creators and how they had massive influence over their followers.

This influence was created and executed in various manners from branding, whether that was by selling, sending followers to a website to gain educational information, and many other ways as well. But what was clear on zoom calls all over the country between clients and agencies was the urgency to improve upon their influencer and affiliate marketing machine. Most companies had minimal infrastructure and vision for how the pandemic was going to change everyone’s reality. Out of the murky bog came a lot of companies that created CRM based aggregators of influencers. Many had outdated information, fees and contact information, but even the ones that were selling quality data didn’t see the explosion of representation firms signing creators at a record pace. From your largest of representation firms like CAA and WME to United Talent and others to the boutique shops like The Digital Renegades and CEG. The race was on for talent, and everyone was in the pool!

This was a seminal point in the evolution of influencers gaining corporate acceptance as well as fair compensation. Previously only influencers such as the Kardashians and Jenners got paid a fair wage, but now creators with 100,000 followers and above can make a living or a healthy side hustle.  Agents brought legitimacy to the time, effort and creativity the creators brought to developing their content. Previously, brands saw athletes and celebrities as their big ticket spokespeople. But with the closing of arenas, movie theaters and production studios, the brands were forced to reassess how they viewed creators. Creators no longer were talked about like indentured servants, but instead were viewed as valuable assets in marketing and selling products.

Creator Sonny Hurrell’s (@thatdudecancook) collaboration with Kingsford

Home delivery exploded: Instacart, Blue Apron, Thrive Market and so many others knocked on our doors. They wanted creators to be salespeople, and candidly it usually didn’t work. Not based on the fee that was being changed.  But here is what else we found out, brands offering creators codes to highlight and earn commissions was a fairytale! There is ZERO way to gauge true attribution from a creator. You can’t add it up in sales because most people (more than 80%) do not use codes, so the concept of “testing” an influencer was so flawed and the brands knew it. Just because a creator has millions of followers or even hundreds of thousands of followers, there is still no guarantee that in one post a large percentage of these consumers will buy. The notion of one call closing is so contradictory to where the actual market currently resides.

Consumers want proof, education, great prices and the feeling they aren’t being sold. Well, tell that to the agencies that are pumping out creator campaigns like puppy mills! It’s really depressing that agencies are making sure they get paid, and blaming creators for their lack of vision. Is this all agencies? Of course not, but a majority are burning and churning clients during the pandemic. They keep selling brands on their data collection and the discounted fees they can get on influencer fees. But what I tell everyone still is “you get what you pay for ” in this and every business.  

So the pandemic at worst was a forced education for everyone involved. Talent agents, influencers, brands, agencies, etc. We all had a good year to better understand what the circumstances are and how do we collectively navigate the landscape? Now with large numbers of Americans being vaccinated, what is next? How does this infrastructure morph into the next stage?

Let’s take a look at a few realities:

  1. Social media usage will drop this Spring and Summer. Why? People are on the loose.   The increase in sales at places like Dick’s Sporting Goods shows that the consumer is feeling free to get out and explore. Outdoor experiences, AirBnB is seeing a massive rise in bookings, airlines are adding planes to their markets for the first time in years. All of this push to do things vs watch others do things will lead to a significant drop in viewership. This drop will just make dealing with creators that actually produce great engagement to be more expensive. Supply and demand folks! 
  2. Brands will start pulling back experimental social media funds from social media campaigns to in store and on site activations. Sponsorships will take off.  Concerts, trade shows, etc.
  3. Influencers will start to be utilized as a way to augment retail promotions and drive traffic in-store, not just to D2C channels.
  4. Influencers will start to diversify their content as they too can get out of the house. So social media influencers, let’s say who previously focused on food, now will add new content such as travel, lifestyle and beauty content. 
  5. New platforms will likely not have as much success as the meteoric rise of TikTok because of the pandemic.
  6. Video content will now evolve to live streams. So platforms like YouTube and Twitch will benefit greatly.

The world of social media never stops changing because the consumer clamors for more and greater connection with those that they follow and idolize. The bar will be pushed to an even higher level. Brands need to be even more creative on how they gain attention by the consumer.   Education will always be a focal point for many brands but especially the emerging all-natural, organic and plant based lines of food. 

If you are an emerging brand or a historic one, let the experts at CelebExperts and The Digital Renegades help brainstorm your future.  Our collaborative DNA and desire to help you achieve your ultimate goals and beyond is our only objective. Contact us at evan@celebexperts.com or christina@celebexperts.com for an immediate free consultation.  

ILANA MUHLSTEIN X AZUNA

The premier manufacturer of plant based nontoxic alternatives to odor elimination, Azuna has gone all in with Ilana Muhlstein vesting in the Company and becoming it’s global spokesperson. Muhlstein, a mom, wife, entrepreneur and best-selling author has always advocated for moms to live happier and healthier lives with the mindset, tools and products they use. Finding Azuna, a product that works well and protects her children from harmful chemical sprays and dispensers, was the perfect fit for the mom of two on a mission.

Muhlstein sees Azuna as the clear choice for air fresheners, “I know how harmful unwanted chemicals can be especially around kids. When Azuna was introduced to me I couldn’t believe how good it smelled, and it truly eliminated odors in the kitchen, bathroom, closets, everywhere.  And it lasts for 60-90 days. That is an incredible value for your average family”. Azuna is also anti-microbial which cleans and neutralizes air against mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria. And maybe best of all, it’s pure and natural because it has no harmful additives or chemicals. 

Azuna started  in 2019 and was founded by Scott Dancy who was looking for a way to get bad odors out of his laundry room. He partnered with a company that made cleaning products and developed Azuna. Scott realized the power and long lasting nature of the product and the light bulb went off that everyone around the world needed a plant based product that was safe around kids and got rid of odors effectively and for up to 90 days.   

Scott Dancy, Azuna CEO sees Ilana as the perfect fit, “As a mom, an expert in healthy living and truly someone vested in helping others, we saw Ilana as an incredible partner and global spokesperson. We think the Company just found it’s missing piece”.

AZUNA is the leading plant based product specializing in odor elimination at the source. Based and manufactured In Buffalo, NY we are proud to be an American made company

ILANA MUHLSTEIN, M.S., R.D.N. is one of the most sought-after weight-loss and nutrition experts in the world. By the time Ilana was 13 years old, she weighed over 200 pounds and struggled with losing weight, emotional eating and diets that didn’t work. While most kids dream of becoming pop stars or famous athletes, Ilana’s early inspirations were the knowledgeable registered dietitians she met every summer at fat camp. She became an RD herself the first chance she got and used everything she learned to lose 100 pounds. Since then, she’s made it her life’s mission to help people live happier and healthier lives.

With a thriving private practice in Beverly Hills, she is an acclaimed public speaker and influencer, published bestselling author, and sits on the prestigious Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association. Ilana has been lecturing for the Bruin Health Improvement Program at UCLA since 2013 and is a contributing writer for distinguished publications including The Journal of Obesity, and has been featured in the LA Times, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, SHAPE, Health and Women’s Health. With a social media following of over 1.8 million people (@nutritionbabe on TikTok and @ilanamuhlsteinrd on Instagram), Ilana’s life goal is to help as many people as she can. Ilana lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Noah and two children, Olivia and Julian.

HOW TIKTOK IS HELPING TO BUILD BEAUTY BRANDS

Why TikTok allows for maximizing a company’s reach as well as impressions

With a rise in influencer marketing strategies throughout social media platforms, companies hope to release content which will have a profound impact on a specific targeted audience. TikTok’s rapid-growing popularity has made it a necessary platform for nearly all industries to advertise on as well as create content for, with the beauty industry being no exception.

Industry leaders have utilized the social network not only to reach their intended audience through the app’s individualized “For You Page”, but to maximize on the organic reach the app has to offer. In doing so and being successful, start-up beauty companies are now following suit, which has resulted in the growth of newer companies as well.

One such company who has used TikTok to their advantage is ELF, which markets affordable make-up and beauty products that are of professional quality. Being a large company, ELF already has a very high brand-awareness among consumers interested in beauty products, however they have been incredibly successful in reaching new markets on the app through the use of influencer marketing.

ELF first released their first TikTok video in March of 2020, and since then has accumulated over 290K followers in addition to more than 7.5M likes. Their secret? Releasing content with popular influencers on the app using their products. Some influencers to which they used to help grow their page include Gabby Morrison, Hyram Yarbro, Danny Ochoa, Seth Obrien and so many more.

What really propelled ELF to having one of the most influential marketing strategy however was their campaign #eyeslipsface, which drew attention from some of the biggest celebrities on the app. Their goal was to portray to the younger Generation how their brand looks to include all types of people as well as show the possibilities for new, edgy styles. The campaign was for people to post a video using ELF products and add the hashtag, and it quickly became one of the most effective campaigns that has been conducted on TikTok so far.

While ELF encouraged influencers to partake in the challenge, the hashtag quickly exploded with popularity, and since then has had more than 5 million user-generated videos in addition to 6 billion views. Celebrities and influencers looking to expand on their TikTok presence further joined the movement and released videos of their own, such as Ellen Degeneres, James Charles, Terry Crews, Jessica Alba, Patrick Starr and even the Chicago Bulls Mascot!

The final results of the campaign resulted in more than 1.5 billion impressions as well as the most user-generated videos ever in a TikTok campaign. As a result of such a successful campaign, so many other beauty-product companies have achieved success through similar means on TikTok such as Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez, Wet n Wild Beauty and also many newer emerging brands in the industry.

With such a successful campaign by ELF, it’s no wonder so many other beauty companies are using TikTok to build its brand awareness and organic reach, as the opportunities the app can provide to industry leaders as well as start-up companies is endless.

RETAIL STOCK RED HOT AS EARNINGS LOOM

Guess will report earnings on St. Patty’s Day next week

Retailer Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES) recently announced a marketing partnership with social media personality, Jen Selter. The social media star will be featured as the face of the Guess? Spring 2021 activewear advertising campaign in a bid to further expand the company’s brand.

GES has not just endured the pandemic, but thrived. The stock is up 216% year-over-year, with its ascending 40-day moving average containing pullbacks in the new year. Despite the channel of higher highs, a healthy 15.8% of GES’ total available float is sold short.  

Guess will step into the earnings confessional next week after the market closes on Wednesday, March 17. The fashion retailer has managed to outperform earnings expectations on three of its four latest earnings reports. For the fourth quarter of 2019, the retailer beat analyst estimates by a margin of $0.10 and reported an earnings per share (EPS) of $1.12. For the second quarter of 2020, Guess beat estimates by a margin of $0.56. In the most recent quarter reported, Guess posted an EPS of $0.58, beating expectations by $0.53.

These encouraging reports have netted post-earnings reactions of 124%, 11.6%, and 10.8%, respectively. This time around, the options market is pricing in a post-earnings move of 14.6%, regardless of direction.

Guess includes a forward dividend of $0.45, equating to a dividend yield of 1.64% and a debt total of $1.28 billion. Their balance sheet also carries $365.26 million in cash. The retail company’s revenues have fallen by roughly $275 million, adding up to $2.4 billion over the past year. Its net income has also decreased by $135 million, which a brings Guess down to $40 million in net losses over the past twelve months.

Source: https://www.schaeffersresearch.com/content/analysis/2021/03/12/retail-stock-red-hot-as-earnings-loom