Brand Strategy Creator Economy Social Media

How influencer marketing will change during the recession, according to experts


By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

November 8, 2022 | 6 min read

Economists around the world warn that recession is nigh. But as we move toward greater economic uncertainty, influencer marketing will remain a key differentiator for brands, according to experts.

tiktok app

Marketers will continue to embrace short-form video in 2023, says Aaron Brooks / Credit: Adobe Stock

As inflation rises and recession looms, consumer spending is slowing. How must brands respond to financial difficulties and changing consumer behavior? Industry leaders at Vamp, EGC Group and The Social Element share three reasons why influencer marketing will remain a crucial channel in 2023.

1. Influencers are key assets during a downturn

Brands will continue to spend on advertising, but will spend more wisely in 2023.

This is what makes influencer marketing such a compelling channel – it not only yields a great return on investment, but also offers an excellent source of organic engagement and insights, says Aaron Brooks, co-founder of creator marketing platform Vamp.

Not to mention, creator-generated content can be repurposed and used in a variety of other applications, such as out-of-home (OOH) and digital. “Brands see [influencer marketing] as a way to leverage and get assets at scale, really quickly, for a fraction of the cost of other channels ... Brands need assets,” Brooks says. “That’s why we haven’t seen the effects of the macroeconomic trends. If anything, we’ve seen brands double down on spending for this year.”

Amy Gilbert, head of social at The Social Element, adds: “Influencers will be as much of an asset in the years to come as they are now, because these people – who at their core are everyday people – have formed a connection with an audience that’s outside of the realm that brands can traditionally reach with product-focused marketing.”

2. Consumers trust creators

As financial difficulties prevail, consumers will turn to influencers they trust for products worth their money. “The need for authenticity is at an all-time high – and brands can’t compromise on this. Simply posing with a product and spouting some facts about the brand isn’t going to make an impact,” says Gilbert.

“As people look for places to cut back and reduce, finding products that truly stand out from the crowd ... becomes more valuable. Simply put, trust becomes even more important during times when dollars are tight.”

The prevalence of niche and micro-niche influencers will also increase. However, instead of leading lavish lifestyles, these influencers may be more frugal and help their follower base manage their finances, explains Nicole Penn, president of New York-based advertising agency EGC Group. “[These influencers] don’t tend to be Kardashians, but instead lead slightly more adorable lives.” She explains that at EGC Group, the team has been focused on designing content that caters to budeting and saving, with themes including ‘How to build a meal under $5.’

“Consumers are feeling the rise in prices,” says Penn. “The more we can be useful and helpful, the better. That’s a big part of our content strategy.”

3. Influencers, though unpredictable, know how to connect with audiences

Thanks to the rise of TikTok and short-form video, transient social media trends will continue to dominate creator campaigns. “These are not always as planned,” says Brooks. “Rather, they’re more fluid, and it’s fun and exciting for brands to test and learn in those scenarios.”

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However, these platforms are tricky, and brands must be willing to allow influencers to take the creative reins. “I can’t emphasize it enough: be open to giving up control over influencer messages,” says Gilbert. “Truly partner with creators – not only do they know their audience well, but they also know what is going to work best when it comes to communicating with and engaging with them.”

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