Brands need to collaborate with consumers instead of relying solely on influencers

Brands have for the most part enjoyed co-creating with some of the best personalities around the world, be it beverage companies or clothing and sporting brands. But this has come without some fires and storms that have required major intervention from a crisis’s communications perspective and some of the cases have necessitated for legal counsel to be roped in.

This then informs us that brand could and should rather be navigating their way back to the hands of the primary stakeholders that being the consumers who support and endorse the brands for truly who and what they stand for. Brand affinity is prevalent in South Africa and brands should rather be looking to investing in customer experience as well as user journeys that will entrench customer gratification and other innovative solutions to ensure retainment and new acquisitions for the growth of their businesses.

Looking back at the Adidas saga with US Kanye artist where they lost out on billions of rands in revenue because of a misunderstanding or rather a break down in a relationship that had worked well for both parties. It took some time for sales to get back to peak. Brands remain vulnerable for as long as a celebrity or key opinion formers who have a massive social media following unless proven otherwise by the person behind millions of followers.

One can have millions of followers, but the impact and influence may well not be reciprocated so brands need to apply their strategies cautiously going forward if they are looking to have influencers join a particular campaign. The space is now also over saturated as there is a bias to a particular brand or artist because of pre-existing affiliations or relationships that are of mutual benefit. It then dents the ethics and the code of professionalism and this then lead to sometimes one person being re-purposed for almost all well-known brands there are thousands of capable professionals who could ply their trade equally well.

A code of practice and ethics should be established to ensure that this craft grows and is sustainable for all South Africans from all walks of life.

The key takeout of influencer marketing, while still prevalent, it is facing scrutiny due to issues of authenticity and oversaturation. Merely boasting millions of followers does not guarantee genuine influence or impact. Brands must exercise caution when selecting influencers, considering factors beyond mere social media metrics. Pre-existing affiliations and relationships can cloud objectivity, compromising the ethical integrity of a campaign.

Moreover, the current landscape favours a select few influencers, leading to a lack of diversity and equal opportunity within the industry. Establishing a code of practice and ethics is crucial to ensure fairness and sustainability for all professionals involved in influencer marketing. By promoting transparency and inclusivity, brands can foster a thriving ecosystem where talent from diverse backgrounds can thrive.

Co-creation with consumers offers brands a more authentic and sustainable approach to brand building. By involving consumers in product development, marketing campaigns, and brand initiatives, brands can harness the collective creativity and loyalty of their audience. This collaborative approach not only strengthens brand-consumer relationships but also fosters a sense of ownership and community among consumers.

In conclusion, the era of influencer-centric brand strategies is evolving. Brands must pivot towards co-creating with their key brand custodians—the consumers—to ensure long-term success and resilience in an ever-changing marketplace. By prioritising consumer satisfaction, fostering inclusivity, and embracing ethical practices, brands can navigate the complexities of modern marketing landscape while building enduring connections with their audiences

Lucky Nkhoma is a business leader with a track record in public relations, marketing, and communications