Influencers have proven to be a great asset to small businesses, especially in the beauty and fashion industry. Everywhere you scroll online you can easily spot another influencer sporting a sexy outfit or bright eyeshadow palette to speak to the influencers carefully cultivated niche of followers. Doing so helps brands speak to a specific niche that has already gathered into a community, saving the brand time by speaking to an audience that already exists instead of building one, and not having to put as much money into paid digital advertising.
As beneficial as it appears to be, brands may be shifting to working with other adjacent brands into what is commonly referred to as Cross-category Collaborations.
Cross-Category Collaborations (CCC):
The act of two adjacent brands creating a collaboration campaign to speak to both audiences. Note: This is different from influencer marketing as there may not be any influencers involved at all, but instead a promotional post.
An influencer has an audience derived from a certain lifestyle they are portraying online that may or may not be authentic. There are two components that help influencers create their audience: idolization of a lifestyle and the desire to purchase. It is often multi-faceted and too expensive for most people to keep up with, which is the exact psychology behind their appeal. Influencers portray a lifestyle that attracts an audience who wishes they could live the same way, thus influencing said audience to purchase the products said influencer promotes. Yet, the average person can only do but so much. Here’s where cross-category collaborations come in.
CCC’s are beneficial because they’re promoting products that are already within reasonable grasp of their audience. Consumers following brands are already groomed to purchase items, and only purchase items. People follow influencers entire lives because it is a live action film of the life they wish they lived; influencers don’t necessarily promote the constant purchase of items. If someone follows FentyBeauty on Instagram, they more than likely have already purchased a product and want to stay up-to-date on other product launches or makeup styles. When FentyBeauty collaborated with Chinese tea company HeyTea, the joining of the two brands spoke to two different niches of people that were in reasonable selling distance of each other due to their similar target audiences. The collaboration was ultimately targeted at young people, as both brands have a dominantly young audience. FentyBeauty’s benefit was that the collaboration brought more Chinese consumers to the platform, expanding and strengthening their global reach highlighted by the fact the collaboration was only promoted on Chinese social media platform Weibo. The benefit to HeyTea was a younger audience that most likely cared about their appearance in real life, and online. HeyTea’s branding is the perfect Instagrammable post that most consumers would want to show off. Consumers follow a brand with the mindset of purchasing down the line, while people follow influencers primarily so because they idolize that lifestyle.
With this collaboration, FentyBeauty and Heytea released a limited-edition makeup bag equipped with HeyTea coupons and a co-branded Fenty box set with Fenty’s new “Cheeks out” blush.
That being said, there were minimal influencers involved and the success of the collaboration relied solely on each brand's zealous fanbase to submit information to be entered into a lottery for the collection. Cross collaborations may prove to be more beneficial because both audiences are ready to purchase, which can save each company lots of time and money in investments. At worst, each benefits by growing their awareness to a similar audience who is already pruned to purchase. In both situations, it’s a win-win.
That doesn’t mean influence marketing is on it’s way out. Influencer marketing accounted for an increase from 6.6B in 2019 to 9.7B in 2020.
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