Thinking Forward: Why are Influencers the Ultimate Marketing Partners for Brands?

May 20, 2024

Influencers have become a powerful tool for businesses to stand out, connect with audiences, and increase sales. At Leger, we also strongly believe in the potential of including influencers in your research to build your strategic decisions. Here’s how you can effectively generate and test great ideas for your brand’s next product or service by working with them.

First things first: why should you trust influencers with your next big ideas? 

There are often confusion or misconceptions about influencers and their work, contributing to the occasional negativity surrounding them. But in reality, influencers are great marketing partners for brands thinking forward. 

33% of Americans follow influencers

Their credibility lies in the trust established with their audience, rendering them not just content creators but authoritative and knowledgeable voices in the online community. Brands should capitalize on this credibility, looking at influencers as reliable guides directing their followers toward trustworthy products and experiences.

Influencers set trends by being deeply connected with their community

Influencers are continuously shaping consumer preferences and driving market trends by immersing themselves in daily conversations with their followers and therefore cultivating a profound understanding of their desires, preferences, and even problems. This direct line of communication between the influencers and their community creates a kind of intimacy that is much harder—if not impossible—to replicate with brands.

Influencers are natural leaders in their niche. Just as some professionals working in finance are experts in finding out what’s next in the financial world, influencers can determine what trends are coming among their online community members.

The importance of influencers in the product development process

By engaging influencers throughout the product development process, brands can gain insights from influencers regarding current trends, target consumer preferences, market gaps, and feedback from similar products offered by competitive brands.

Influencers’ ability to see what’s coming next offers brands a key strategic advantage. This is particularly true for consumer package goods (CPGs) and travel brands, where products, collections, lines, destinations, and experiences are constantly tied to seasons, trends, and people. However, brands across all industries can reap substantial benefits from including influencers’ insights in their research.

Take our collaboration with an International Hotel Chain, for instance. We conducted multiple phases of research among luxury travel influencers and target consumers to validate and refine five new service ideas tailored for esteemed high-end loyalty members. One service will be rolling out this year, while others, confirmed through this partnership, are strategically positioned in the pipeline for the next two years.

Tracey Berkenbush, VSP Research Leger USA

Furthermore, influencers, serving as early adopters, can help your brand beta test products or services and provide genuine feedback and real-world experiences, paving the way for product refinement before broader market release. 

3 tips for working with influencers in the context of innovation and product development

It’s likely you’ll invest significantly for this collaboration—make sure the fit is right. You can minimize the risk of choosing wrong by following these few tips:

1. The influencer’s audience matches your target audience. Ask them to talk in detail about their audience. Not only their age, gender, and location (those are easy stats to get on any platform) but more importantly:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What do they like?
  • What are their pain points?

2. Work with influencers who have a high engagement rate. Views and likes are great, but they won’t give you the insights you need to decide what ideas are worth developing. You’ll want to work with influencers who can quickly engage and connect with their audience and provide real value through their content or answers.

3. Include your influencers in the early brainstorming.

IDEAvate360

We expect to see more brands exploring collaborative partnerships with influencers in a context of innovation and strategic product development going forward.

At Leger, we developed an innovative modern research solution that combines consumer and influencer data and insights to help brands confidently launch new products or services. Depending on the brands’ needs, our flexible system can develop, refine, or validate new ideas at any stage of the innovation process.

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