In my 30-plus years of marketing, I’ve seen an evolutionary shift in how brands are offered, advertised and supplied to consumers driven largely by the rise of the internet and most specifically social media. While some data around how women seek out and consume brands still holds true, there is a seismic behavioral shift that marketers and business owners must recognize.
Our concept of “brand” came into being in the late 19th century with the advent of advertising and the ability of manufacturers to produce and distribute goods. This movement of goods and services, and resulting brand loyalty, stayed in place largely undisturbed right up until 2010 when the internet began to mix up how folks searched for and purchased brands (think Amazon and online-purchase/subscription). In this past decade we have seen the rise of the “Disruptor Brand,” that is, products offered online directly from manufacturer to consumer via the internet. (Warby Parker vs. Lenscrafters, for example). These brands are competing with the biggest and baddest of the traditional brands, while fostering a new type of consumer who is engaging with brands in completely new ways.
Marketers are identifying direct brand (or disruptor brand) loyalists and are discovering a small segment of purchasers who we term “super influencers.” We know that women make or influence the lion’s share of purchases–about 85% of all purchases in fact. So how women are using social media, the internet and their own influence to drive purchases cannot be underestimated.
Who are the big disruptors? The major direct brand consumers? They are younger (13-40), they have higher household incomes than average, and they are driven by a need to self-express. Their brands are vehicles for cross-channel communication and self-promotion. Roughly 18.5 percent of consumers are “super influencers” who are strategic, deliberate and prolific in their online communication about their favorite brands.
While television is still the most influential medium for brand discovery, the internet and social media have largely caught up with TV. Interestingly, Facebook is still the number one online vehicle for brand sharing (with Instagram a distant second), even though the application is largely used by an older demographic.
Young female consumers are utilizing Facebook and Instagram, as well as blogs (both ads posted to influencer blogs and the blogs themselves) to research these new direct brands. Then they turn to expert reviews, celebrity influencers and consumer rankings to determine their decision to purchase. They are very receptive to online offers, subscriptions and encouragement to share or post.
Are you a brand disruptor? Have you subscribed to your favorite brand’s newsletter? Purchased a product that comes directly from an online source to your doorstep? Shared or posted about a new purchase that you love? Or found a new product or service through an effective Facebook ad?
Or perhaps you are considering starting a business to market your product directly to consumers online rather than opening a storefront as your point of interaction. Whatever the case, be aware of the rising power of social media advertising, influencers and “super influencers” to drive brand loyalty and marketing success today. And know that your voice as a woman has incredible power in this dynamic, social and global marketplace.
*Data from The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)