Present day influencer marketing has surpassed all expectations from an ROI point of view. It has become a vital part of the digital marketing strategy that only promises to grow further. Whether food, beverage, healthcare or cosmetics, brands across each of these key categories are winning over consumers with relevant social media content. 89% of marketers believe that influencers can help them achieve their targets with shoppers showing increasing affinity towards local creators across key platforms and highly engaging content formats. 

While high reach, credibility and engagement are key criteria for considering experts and content creators, affiliate marketing has opened up more avenues for local, on-ground brand advocates to drive consideration and purchase. The first step of a successful influencer marketing plan is to define the brand objectives. Next, imaginative content creation in close coordination with the influencer who best understands her audience interests can follow. Once the creative assets are made, special coupon codes and vouchers can be customized for followers to avail while buying the product online. These codes can be tracked to measure the effectiveness of the campaign from a conversion standpoint. Another key pillar driving influence for brands is through the prospect of onboarding affiliates. These are basically those who can activate the product directly or indirectly amongst consumers. Affiliates need not be celebrities or high-follower creators/influencers. They can quite simply be those who can sell the product within individual circles of influence to their clients. Let’s look at some ways in which key categories of CPG brands (FMCG, Healthcare and Manufacturing) drove results through both influencer and affiliate marketing programs.

1. FMCG

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Influencers can do a job no other marketing touchpoint can deliver,” says Barbara Mugica, Associate Director for Personal Care Digital Marketing at Colgate-Palmolive. The brand took a data-driven approach to planning a year-on-year global creator-led strategy with significant investments for key markets wherein they wanted to increase penetration. They relied on in-depth influencer analytics to chart out their initiatives with the unified goal of driving more awareness for a brand new line of sustainable dental care products. The Optic White toothpaste and bamboo toothbrushes in particular. Through a metric-based approach that factors in the results in terms of projected views, engagement and conversions that the chosen influencers can drive – the brand successfully delivered the global initiative across markets through effective contextualisation. As a result, youth influencers for the most watched YouTube categories from around the world increased the credibility of the Colgate products among their own audiences, driving high levels of brand affinity.

An example of one such association part of the larger global strategy was Colgate Optic White promotions by Andrea and Blair through The Smile Show. This video series featured the product and amassed 24M+ views. With relevant and useful content, the YT creators were able to engage their audiences best by connecting on the universal matter of a great smile. The duo successfully built both online and offline impact by significantly increasing consideration and purchase.

Similarly, in India, a whole range of diverse creators from popular entertainment genres such as comedy and films came together to ask Colgate consumers to ‘Smile Out Loud’.

Colgate India’s ‘Smile Out Loud’ campaign features young and inspiring social media influencers in their most authentic avatars. Despite being made to feel self-conscious at a young age due to conventional beauty standards, influencers Toshada Uma, Dolly Singh, and Prarthana Jagan found a way to defy these norms and create a unique identity for themselves. The creatively crafted video assets showcase how they braved the social stigma surrounding their ‘imperfections’ but didn’t let their smiles wane. Instead, they converted their Colgate ‘Visible White’ smiles into personal strengths by embracing them without hesitation.

2. Manufacturing

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In an exercise contrasting the content-based influencer advocacy on social media, a leading Norwegian client of Capillary Technologies specializing in decorative paints activated a first-of-its-kind affiliate loyalty program. A unique app onboarded both painters and dealers in a multi-country initiative wherein painters were allowed the opportunity to earn and burn points if they chose to deal with this paint brand over others. By increasing engagement through vernacular videos within the app, moreover, 500+ painters were trained to make the best use of it across 7 key markets. It overall increased the brand’s market share in key countries wherein maximum trust and transparency was established successfully between the painters and the dealers.

As the first step, only painters who could influence the decision of the many households/builders seeking painting services were onboarded through extensive research and interviewing. The brand believed in their potential to influence others as they were the best organic affiliates whose word about the product’s authenticity proved invaluable. Next, the painters were directed to dealers who provided them with the product with a special QR code activated to ensure that the painter could earn points. Next, painters were directed to redeem the points earned creating a sustainable cycle of retention and repeat purchase. Configurable rewards and gamification ensured high engagement while the in-app videos in vernacular languages allowed for the painters’ seamless understanding of the reward system. The rewards catalog, moreover, was customized and curated by the brand to make sure that the loyalty program led to the creation of an influencer ecosystem for long-term results instead of achieving mere short-term targets.

In terms of impact, the program led to 300+ training sessions with over 50K influencers from across 7 countries with over 75% incremental sales generated as a result. The deep knowledge gained on painter sentiments as well as the relationships established with these painters led to increased upsell opportunities in the future through targeted communication. Both individual painter preferences and purchase patterns played a crucial role in terms of contributing to the success of the program.

3. Healthcare

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While earlier leading healthcare brands like J&J relied on celebrities like Jennifer Garner and Kerry Washinton to drive awareness primarily among boomers and millennials, they have now turned towards activating their GenZ shoppers through younger digital influencers. Not only is J&J conscious of the need to communicate with younger audiences by leveraging the power of social media, but also aware of the growing consumption of healthcare products among them. In fact, during the pandemic, the GenZ cohorts’ consumption of nutrition and skincare products grew tenfold. Thus, J&J tactfully collaborated with leading fitness, health, and even food bloggers across to increase awareness around its new range of products in underpenetrated markets. The strategic choice was to partner with younger faces to increase the relevance of the communication of fairly clinical brands such as Pepcid antacid which was promoted tactically through chef influencers who claimed to avoid heartburn while enjoying their favorite Asian meals. Such an influencer marketing strategy proves effective since it makes contemporary products that have only been sold through traditional channels before. The digital reach and engagement garnered by young influencers with the most loyal followers ensures that the age-old influence of established healthcare products is sustained for the next generation of customers. 

Similarly, Neutrogena’s skincare label brought onboard 24-year-old Lauren Bushnell and 19-year-old Jenna Ortega to promote their new range of sunscreen. The brand also actively collaborates with GenZ musicians like Chloe and Halle Bailey as well. The diversification of influencer categories beyond – fitness and healthcare expertise –  is an effective step for healthcare brands to make their products more appealing to GenZ audiences.

It is, thus, evident from the varied types of influencer and affiliate activities that CPG brands are winning over consumers with relevant campaigns activated on a real-time basis. The fact that consumers trust influencers more than the brands themselves is a sign that this form of advocacy is perhaps the most effective within the larger digital marketing ecosystem.

Anupama Basu
Passionate about evolving marketing technologies, Anupama is a seasoned professional by day and writer by night. She has worked for the world's leading brands in the advertising and marketing industry for a while now, and won recognition for her projects. She hopes to deepen her sense of purpose by always offering the most relevant insights to her readers.