Do brands really need celebrities these days?

Celebrities are often perceived as corporate entities and so it makes sense when people say they don’t trust their product endorsements. Does George Clooney really know his Nespresso Lungos from his Intensos? Does Iggy Pop know about car insurance (in fact that collaboration came to an abrupt end when the ad was pulled because the policy he put his name to wasn’t even available to musicians). Irrespective of whether George and Iggy are well versed in coffee and insurance respectively, the question is, “Do brands really need celebrities these days?”

This question is even more poignant given that many of the consumers that celebrities are advertising to are sometimes just as powerful (in terms of influence) as the celebrities themselves. Harnessing the power of those influential consumers should be the holy grail for every brand. Influencer marketing has been around for years but has probably never earned its place in the marketing mix as much as it does nowadays.

Real influence lies with the consumer

In short, influencer marketing identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers. Previously brands may have targeted popular celebrities but right under their noses is something more powerful, more powerful in terms of influencing someone’s purchase intent. I’m talking about consumers. Consumers that can have just as large, if not larger impact. Consumers are more connected with other consumers in a way that the traditional Hollywood stars aren’t. Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from a friend or family member – someone you know and trust. Now, if, of course, you genuinely know George Clooney are his first cousin, then you’ll be benefitting from his expertise (or not) in coffee as a consumer rather than as a celebrity – something far more powerful.

Trust is everything

Studies show that word of mouth recommendation is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all buying decisions; people trust the opinions and recommendations made by those within their network. According to a McKinsey Study, marketing inspired word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

When it comes down to it, a brand’s primary concern is gaining the trust of their consumers. The fact that 90% of consumers will trust a referral from someone on their personal network surely means that there is no better way to expedite trust than to utilise real people to create social content, sharing their sentiment for a brand?

There’s a new endorsement kid on the block. Celebrity endorsers, please make some space for consumers.