You can add influencers to the list of those impacted by supply chain shortages.
With ports across the country still backed up, brands are warning customers of slow shipping and encouraging them to order early ahead of the holidays. These shortages are also creating uncertainty within influencer marketing, as brands don’t necessarily know if they will have enough stock to fulfill orders if a product ends up going viral.
“Supply chains are a real issue,” said Danielle Wiley, CEO of Sway Group, an influencer marketing company. “Why commit a lot of money [to influencers] when you don’t know what things will be?”
Some consumer packaged goods and direct-to-consumer brands are already having a tough time, said Gabe Feldman, business development lead at Viral Nation, an influencer and performance marketing firm, adding that he has seen brands move product launches because of supply chain issues.
Movers+Shakers had a client that couldn’t get gift boxes made in time and had to pull the related holiday ads, according to Evan Horowitz, its CEO and co-founder. Digital Brand Architects, another social influencer marketing agency, had a client ask for influencers to create content around a certain colored bag, then the bag color ran out, and another had to be swapped out last minute, according to CEO Raina Penchansky.
“With some clients, it’s the physical logistics issues that hold them up, not just getting all the component product parts,” said Alessandro Bogliari, co-founder and CEO of The Influencer Marketing Factory. Some brands have lowered their marketing budget to make sure they can address last-minute supply pivots.
During its October earnings call, Snap noted that some retailers were pulling back on marketing on the Snapchat platform because in some instances they didn’t have enough merchandise.
See Ad Age’s 2021 Social Commerce Guide here.
• How NFTs and the Metaverse could solve supply chain issues
• All the social commerce capabilities introduced in 2021
• How retail chains are using social commerce this holiday
• Influencers impacted by supply chain shortages
To counter the supply issues, some brands are using influencers to promote a wider breadth of products, rather than focusing on a few items. “Our clients are not being so product-dominant, like a ‘this is the toy of the season’ tone,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO of Obviously, an influencer marketing agency. “The messaging is more general and shows a diverse product offering.”
Brands are also shifting content to focus on other holiday aspects outside of gift-giving. “Sure, consumers look to influencers for gift ideas, but also home decorating inspiration, party themes, recipes, maybe even places to travel,” said Horowitz.
Despite the uncertainty, creators this holiday season are still in big demand, which has caused influencer rates to increase. TikTok, in particular, is receiving the bulk of interest from brands.
The platform has seen a saturation of brands searching for creators, which is also driving up influencer rates. “There are so many more brands vying for their attention,” said Karwowski, adding that brands can expect to see a 15% to 30% increase in rates.
Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, echoes this, saying that the new crop of creators who have become famous on TikTok are attracting significant budgets. “We’ve seen brands shift campaigns by a week or so in order to work with a specific influencer,” he said. “Influencers are the new celebrity endorsement, and brands are willing to wait to work with them.”
U.S. digital ad spending on social media influencer content is expected to grow to $6 billion this November and December, according to Salesforce, representing 20% of all digital ad spend this year.
Another roadblock is that influencers are being more selective in the brands they are working with or already have long-term brand deals in place.
“Influencers are more planned out and regimented with their content than they were last year,” Karwowski said. “Brands who have cemented those relationships are glad they did.”
Brands will look to lean on influencers “to trigger that emotional connection between the holidays and the brand,” said Jess Phillips, founder and CEO of The Social Standard, a marketing agency that connects brands with social talent.
Horowitz echos this: “Last holiday season, companies were on the sidelines or weren’t even sure if their audience was here. But now they get it, and we’re seeing that in influencer price changes and limited availability.”