The Impact of Influencers on Consumer Behaviour & Purchase Decisions
By: Ishita Khanna, Digital Content Creator
Ishita uses her YouTube — which has over 330k subscribers and Instagram — with over 118k followers to engage with her audience via content which is laser-focused on relatable fashion, lifestyle and styling tips and trends.
If I told you over a decade ago that nail art would explode to one day becoming an influencer-led social community, you would have been highly sceptical. Today, #NailTrends have over 1 million posts on Instagram. The brand GymShark, too, has garnered over 6 million followers on Instagram harnessing the power of both community building and influencer marketing baked in together.
Whether you’re looking for a movie recommendation, product review, or a place to dine at, you’ve obviously looked for social media proof as an indicator of quality.
Social validation and trust has truly integrated into every aspect of a customer’s experience in our digital world. While these platforms provide consumers new ways to access product information, it has also created massive opportunities and established a dynamic between brands and digital creators.
Influencers and the Psychology of Influence
But, why is social media influence so powerful? How have digital creators tapped into effectively affecting consumer behaviour?
In order to weigh in on influence, it is critical to understand the power of influence and the psychology behind it.
The go-to book on influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert B. Cialdini explores the art of persuasion and why people say ‘yes’. He breaks down six principles of persuasion including reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity and how to apply them in our lives, what moves people to change behaviour as well as how to defend yourselves against them.
What stands out is social proof, along with personalisation and approachability that influencers bring in. With more consumers trusting influencers, it's no surprise that this marketing tool has become mainstream. Brands have understood the psychology of influence to bring in and retain customers which is why today we see social media rise as a preferred channel of engagement and marketing in order to maximise reach. It also works because it is more affordable as compared to traditional advertising/ marketing techniques and delivers faster results.
Impact on Consumer Behaviour and Purchase Decisions
Today, we see brands across industries such as Nike, Tinder, Asos and closer home, BoAT apply influencer marketing to purchase their products. A recent report found that 92% of marketers believe that influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing.
An influencers' massive following and captivating content have become catalysts for brand preferences as well as transforming consumer behaviour. Here’s a look at the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behaviour and purchase decisions as well as the factors that make influencer marketing an effective strategy for brands:
Enhancing Brand Awareness
With their influence, content creators can significantly amplify brand awareness, reach and visibility. By engaging with influencers who have a targeted and engaged audience, brands can quickly reach potential customers who might not have been reached via traditional advertising routes. Increased brand awareness impacts consumer behaviour by putting the brand right in front of the consumer.
In many instances of influencer marketing, we see how the emotional connection established between an influencer and their followers drives consumers to prioritise products over alternatives ultimately leading to not just piquing brand interest but also sales conversions.
Building Social Proof, Trust and Credibility
For brands looking to stand out, it is critical to understand the connection between consumer attitudes, buying intentions and influencer credibility. Credibility plays a key role when it comes to purchase intention, and this is largely based on the fact that consumers have trust in influencers and consider them to create real, authentic suggestions which directly have an effect on customer journey. Simply, social proof, the role of trust and credibility of an influencer are key drivers of a successful influencer strategy.
Be it micro or macro influencers, all content creators have a niche audience with specific interests and demographics. If brands can identify the right influencer who caters to their ideal consumer base, then half the battle is won. For brands to stand out, it is important to align their values with their target market and enhance the effectiveness of their marketing strategies by associating with the right influencer for their brand.
Beyond Traditional Advertising
We’re living in an ad world! However, oftentimes, they fail to meet expectations such as targeting the right demographic resulting in social media platforms becoming a preferred tool for most brands. With influencer marketing involving user generated content, brands encourage consumers as brand ambassadors — this strategy ensures that the content is more relatable, fosters community-building and feels less like traditional advertising. Myntra, is a great example of using non-traditional ways such as launching ‘Myntra Studio’ wherein influencers create an immersive shopping experience for the consumers.
According to Statista, the influencer marketing industry in India is expected to reach 28 billion Indian rupees at a CAGR of 25 per cent by 2026. Given how much influencers drive purchase decisions, marketers must adopt influencer marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve in a competitive environment.