Arii’s clothing brand failed to sell 36 pieces of clothing, confirming many marketer’s theories about influencer marketing.
The backstory; Instagram influencer Arii launched her own clothing brand. The clothing designs were bland but not offensively bad (throwback to my article on influencer clothing brands), and even with her following of 2 million she failed to sell 36 pieces of clothing.
Firstly, let’s answer the big question following this story: Is influencer marketing ineffective? Absolutely not, influencer marketing has an undeniable track record of being an effective form of advertising.
However, this does confirm that an influencer posting a video or photo with a random product isn’t an effective form of advertising.
Arii posted twice about her clothing brand to her 2 million followers. I’m unsure of her going rate for sponsored posts, but the average influencer with 100,000 followers charges $1,000 per post; therefore valuing each post at $20,000 (which is much more than her potential earnings from her clothes sales). Arii’s lack of sales shows us that her influence is around 1% of this estimated cost.
For most marketers, this won’t come as a surprise. However, over the last few years many brands have paid large sums to influencers for promotions simply due to their fame; Arii’s clothing failure shows that these promotions have likely been losses for these brands.
Arii isn’t the only example of an influencer throwing something into a photo and assuming it will generate sales. Too often will I see a sponsored post, but the actual product takes up 5% of the image (garnering it a pretty worthless promotion); knowing that these influencer are charging at least $1,000 per post makes a mockery of these brand’s marketing teams.
It should be obvious, but just throwing a product in front of people will not translate to sales (if they’re not your target demographic).
Sacrificing a bigger audience for a more targeted demographic has always (and will always) result in a bigger return on investment. Additionally, it will be cheaper because you’re not paying for the luxury of someone who considers themselves “more famous” than other influencers.
For example, if you do a free screening of a movie for a famous film critic (e.g. AngryJoe) and they love the film, the return on investment will be huge. Similarly, if you’re a tech company and are launching a new computer, a paid promotion with a YouTuber like Austin Evans has a greater chance to make a return on investment than one with Saffron Barker.
Arii’s failed clothing brand won’t result in influencer’s not receiving brand deals, if anything it will encourage brands to make sure that the correct influencers are used for promotion. What this does signify, though, is potentially the downfall of Instagram influencers becoming multi-millionaires by just posting selfies.
Predicting how brand deals will change following this, I would think that commission based promotions will become more commonly used (as opposed to brands paying per 1,000 views). This would be the natural progression of these deals as it protects the brand’s investment, and if an influencer has the correct demographic for the product they can make more per post than they are currently.
Whilst it’s not nice for someone to fail, Arii has definitely helped the credibility of my article critiquing these influencer clothing brands:
“… the majority of these YouTuber “brands”, they just don’t have the creativity or originality that successful indie labels create. Without the ties to an influencer, the brands would fail because they aren’t good quality.”