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University of Sunderland

The connection between lifestyle branding and influencer marketing

Posted on: November 17, 2023
Asian man blogger or vlogger looking at camera reviewing product. Modern businessman using social media for marketing. Business online influencer on social media concept.

At a time when consumers are more economically conscious, having a robust digital marketing strategy is essential to sustain sales, growth, and long-term success. Brand marketing must find new, impactful ways to connect with potential customers, or risk losing out in highly competitive, saturated global marketplaces.

This is where influencer marketing strategy steps in. At its most basic, an influencer refers to any individual who has the power to influence the actions, thoughts, beliefs and behaviours of others. Influencer marketing – which is proving an increasingly popular form of marketing – refers to social media marketing in which brands pay influential individuals to promote their products or services via word-of-mouth.

Aspire’s State of Influencer Marketing 2023 report indicates that it’s fast becoming a critical tool in brand marketing strategy:

  • 68% of brands plan to increase influencer marketing budget
  • Brands attribute 29% of their sales to commerce on social media platforms
  • 69% of brands are working with smaller creators – nano-influencers and micro-influencers – who consistently achieve the highest engagement rates across all platforms
  • Instagram continues to be the ‘tried-and-true’ channel for influencer content
  • 83% of social influencers are willing to work with brands for free products rather than payment.

Failing to take advantage of social influencers – and the reach and sway they command – can be a monumental misstep for many businesses, particularly lifestyle brands.

What is the relationship between influencer marketing and lifestyle branding?

The aim of lifestyle brands is to symbolise the values and aspiration of their target markets, and to successfully market a particular ‘way of life’. They work hard to establish emotional connections between their products, services, and the lifestyle image they seek to portray, often creating brand subcultures unique to them and their audiences. More and more, brands are pushing beyond a straightforward, one-time purchase, embedding visions and feelings of aspirational lifestyles to progressively savvy consumers.

As a result, social media content creators, who often have incredibly engaged, and sometimes niche, audiences, can be considerably valuable to lifestyle businesses and brands. After all, who is better placed to influence opinions, emotions and desires than someone a follower admires, trusts, and has invested time and energy in?

What are the benefits of influencer marketing for lifestyle brands?

Social media influencers come in all shapes, sizes, and forms: health and fitness influencers, fashion influencers, food influencers, travel influencers, book influencers, and just about everything you can imagine in between. Partnering with a lifestyle influencer who embodies a specific brand ethos and values can help marketers to acquire new customers, retain existing customers and, perhaps most importantly, build customer lifetime value.

Successful influencers build close relationships with their followers, and research published in the International Journal of Advertising indicates that, as a result, ‘followers tend to have a positive bias toward their endorsements’, consider them ‘a source of inspiration informing them about the newest trends, products and brands’, and regard them as ‘experts and trustworthy sources of advice.’

In terms of business benefits, working with the right influencers who advocate for a brand can also:

  • present a more cost-effective method of marketing
  • put products and services in front of engaged target audiences
  • boost brand awareness and community building
  • offer in-depth insights into the demographics, interests and motives of potential customers
  • increase credibility and authenticity – as audiences trust the ‘stamp of approval’ and ‘social proof’ provided by influencers they follow
  • result in easier-to-measure results – for example, using metrics based on analytics and affiliate marketing links
  • content creation at scale – often with no need for a studio or expensive marketing shoot.

All of this combines to have a powerful impact over the purchase decisions made by followers. Now you’re convinced of the positive effects of influencer marketing on increasing brand engagement – how do you decide which social media influencer is right for your lifestyle brand name?

How to choose the right influencer to market your lifestyle brand

Influencer Marketing Hub believes there are nine key criteria to bear in mind when deciding to work with social media influencers in order to guarantee the best return on investment (ROI): audience, engagement rate, relevance, authenticity, values, content quality, frequency, reliability, audience quality.

Let’s explore each of the criteria, and questions lifestyle brand marketers should be asking, in more detail:

Audience. Does the influencer have a relevant audience for your brand? Do you share the same demographic – for example, millennials – whether in terms of age, gender, location, interests, or another measure?

  • Engagement rate. How are influencer posts performing in relation to their overall subscriber or follower count? Do they take time to interact with, and respond to, their audience?
  • Relevance. Will the branded content make sense in relation to their account? Are there overlapping themes or interests? In what ways are they a good fit for the brand?
  • Authenticity. How meaningful is their storytelling found within their Instagram posts (or whichever social platform you’re targeting)? Are the captions of their sponsored posts valuable and useful to their followers? Are there influencers already using your branded hashtags who would make natural, authentic ambassadors?
  • Values. Do the blogger’s or influencer’s values align with the brand’s values? Is there any content associated with them – their bio, captions, images or video content – that would be in conflict with what the brand represents? Will there be public relations issues?
  • Content quality. Does the quality of their content match the desired quality you need associated with the brand? Is it optimised, engaging, well-composed, creative, and consistent?
  • Frequency. How often does the influencer post content? Is their content published frequently enough to build sufficient brand loyalty? How often are they already publishing sponsored content, and is there a good balance between that and regular content?
  • Reliability. Can the influencer communicate and cooperate in a professional manner? Are they proactive in their dealings with the brand and brand content?
  • Audience quality. Among the number of followers an influencer has, is there evidence of fake or inauthentic accounts? What sort of comments are being left on their posts?

Get to grips with crafting highly effective influencer marketing campaigns

Develop critical leadership and management skills – together with specialist expertise in marketing brands to global audiences – with the University of Sunderland’s online MSc Management with Marketing programme.

Prepare for the international business landscape, gaining an in-depth understanding of what’s required to help modern brands succeed in fast-paced, complex and changeable environments, on a highly flexible, 100%-online course. You’ll explore what it means to be a transformational leader as you enhance your skillset and position as a creative, strategic critical thinker and decision maker. You’ll explore topics such as cross-cultural people management, international marketing and brand management, global trade, business leadership, entrepreneurship, operations management, finance, and much more.

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