Influencer Marketing: Help or Hindrance?

18 March 2021

Many brands have heavily invested in and seen the benefits of influencer marketing. With the known success of brand ambassadors, the emergence of social media ‘influencers’ is a natural evolution. Especially when we take into account the exponential rise in social media usage, with 3.5 billion active users worldwide. [1]


We all know that brands benefit from influencer marketing because of increased consumer exposure and brand awareness - and when influencers and companies are partnered carefully -  brands essentially have access to an organically curated target audience. One post can reach millions of people in an instant. Take Kylie Jenner, for example, she has over 221.5 million followers on instagram alone, and has solely marketed her brand Kylie Cosmetics through social media, using her own profile and other influencers to promote her products... the company's estimated value is $900million. [2]


We know from our Brand Loyalty SBBlog, that familiarity and trust drive higher ROI. In theory, if consumers are exposed to someone they recognise and trust endorsing a product, they are more likely to buy it. However findings from our Perception Index® research, suggest that brand or product awareness and exposure through influencers aren't actually enough to turn consumers into purchasers - emotional engagement is a key requirement.


Influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements are particularly common in cosmetics, fragrance and watch sectors - and brands that are considered to be more progressive - are more likely to invest significant portions of their ad spend on influencer marketing. We're talking a price anywhere between $1000 and $1 million+ per post. [3]


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 But what's the real cost to your brand image? We put their imagery to the test.. Are campaigns using influencers really perceived as more progressive or modern?

Using our in-house neuromarketing service, Engagement Insights®, we tested adverts from the cosmetics, fragrance and watch sectors - carefully selecting campaign imagery from various touch points on the customer journey - to see whether the use of influencer marketing is actually helping or hindering brand success.

Brochure image Creative background Product shot
Brochure Shot Creative Shot Product Shot


You can see in the graph below that when measuring the metrics ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’ in the Cosmetics and Watch sectors, images are perceived as significantly more progressive when there is no talent. Despite the staggering spend on celebrity endorsements - our results show that brand's don't appear more visually modern.


Progressive graph - Influencer Marketing blog



We also tested consumer’s emotional attachment/desire towards images with and without talent. Ultimately, there is a lower perception of positive/emotional attachment on images using influencer marketing:


Positive Graph - Influencer Marketing Blog


Our insights suggest that people engage with celebrity endorsements, but do not necessarily have a more positive emotional response to to the brand image. This could be due to a un-relatable lifestyles between celebrity and consumer, which ultimately leads to disengagement and decreased desirability.


In summary, brands can actually create more emotionally engaging and progressive ads without using celebrity endorsements. Saving your marketing budget on expensive and ineffective influencer marketing allows for spending on tailor-made creative ads which can help you increase consumer engagement and ultimately lead to a higher rate of purchase. 


Discover how we can elevate your creative ads using our creative production techniques.

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All results in this blog come from the Saddington Baynes Perception Index®. A benchmark ranking 50 brands across 5 sectors including: Automotive, Fragrance, Cosmetics, Beverage and Watches, giving brands across the world previously hidden insights about the campaign and image effectiveness. We are keen to share more detailed insights with you around this concept so get in touch with Callum, Head of Insights, for more information. 

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