Is the end of the influencer upon us?
Of course not. After all, word of mouth and personal recommendations is still THE most INFLUENTIAL marketing tool out there, especially for personal services such as bespoke tailoring. Would you try a new brand because you saw an ad, or because your mate tried it and loved it? And influencers purport to be the personal brand recommendation of the 21stcentury, admittedly more so for females than males, but as men become more and more image conscious they are looking for inspiration. Can you trust a sales person in a shop (if you still do bricks and mortar)? Can you trust an AI salesperson on a website? You’d trust a personal recommendation though.
The hurdle that influencers will have to overcome to stay relevant, is the current buzzword, AUTHENTICITY. Men are probably a little more cynical when it comes to being influenced, as they are not always chasing the latest trends, and I’m talking about ordinary guys, who are becoming a little more self-conscious. In my time on the shop floor, the most common request for a suit was for “slim fit”, and that was about as far as the customer could go on an in-depth description – “I want a slim fit navy blue suit”. But I found that when you get into the sale, there are lots of other details which my clients may not have considered, but were appreciative of me suggesting them. Point here is that men are getting a little more savvy as to how they want to look.
As the menswear market continues to grow, brands are increasingly trying to find ways to tap into that growth audience in new ways as the ways of old become…well old. Brand building is one thing, but these days, brands can cut to the chase and with increasingly sophisticated analytics see quite quickly if their ad spend is putting cash in the till. But as mentioned above, men are a bit more cynical, and whilst influencers are well, an influence, they absolutely have to be GENUINE for a brand to build itself on social media using influencers.
I have resisted the temptation to use influencers for my own brand J & E, because to be honest I would feel a little disingenuous if I paid someone to wear a J & E suit, in the hope that his followers would follow suit…..(no pun intended)!!!) As a businessman, if that worked as a straight forward marketing tool, of course I’d use it, but I’m not convinced it does for ordinary guys. It would be a cost to me that may not pay off. However, I would not object to Idris Elba genuinely liking and recommending a J & E suit. As long he did really like it.
AM I AN INFLUENCER?
When I first started marketing J & E, I did not want to put my image out there at all. I am a bit of an introvert. But, the more marketing people I spoke to, almost all of them said I should feature, as I am the brand, and the story behind the brand, and that I should also use an influencer. Well you know how I feel about influencers, but the bit about I am the brand story (I wanted to make suits for myself, because I am quite specific about suit details for my own look, but did not have a bespoke tailoring background – more of a styling background) resonated a little bit, so I started putting my image out there, and lo and behold started to get more engagements.
I am my own influencer, even though only in a small way, as I am by no means an influencer, per se. Also, in my line within the menswear sector, bespoke tailoring, I am the fit model for my samples for practical reasons….and why not!!