How Revolve Proves Influencer Marketing Works

It’s New York Fashion Week, and influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere.

by Kylie Wu

Influencer marketing — whether you buy into it, have mixed feelings about it, or still don’t get it, it undeniably remains one of the hottest topics in the advertising industry today.

No matter what your opinion is, influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere for now — 53% of women made purchases due to influencer posts last year (myself included), and almost 50% of brands are looking to increase influencer marketing budgets in 2017.

Revolve, an LA-based millennial fashion (and recently beauty) multi-brand e-retailer, put a stake in the ground early on with their belief that influencer marketing would work for them, and the massive success they have seen since their founding in 2003 proves that their bet on influencers has, and continues to, pay off for their brand.

Rather than opt for the route of shooting traditional fashion editorial ads, Revolve began regularly hosting getaway trips from Palm Springs to Croatia, inviting influencers to relax, hang out and have fun while posting images of themselves wearing Revolve clothing (oftentimes with links to purchase the items) and the hashtag #RevolveAroundTheWorld.

Last year, Revolve also rented out a house for the weekend of popular music festival Coachella. Among the it-crowd guests were several fashion influencers who wore Revolve items that were featured on their Instagram and Snapchat feeds throughout the weekend. If a consumer saw something they liked, they could order the items from Postmates’ delivery service to receive them under an hour in 6 markets, or shop the Festival section of Revolve’s website.

This effort resulted in 3 billion impressions from just one weekend, their hashtag #RevolveFestival was used over 6K times in the first weekend alone, and generated a lift in Revolve’s sales.

So why the trips and parties? In addition to creating long-term relationships with these influencers, adding to the cool-girl reputation for Revolve’s own brand and getting massive reach amongst their millennial-girl target audience, the influencer content generated from these hosted events (which Revolve repurposes on their owned channels) portray the lifestyle of the quintessential Revolve customer — showing how much fun a girl could have while wearing Revolve clothing, and representing the brand in a more realistic way than editorial ads produced from staged photoshoots typically can.

This in turn leads to purchase intent, as 64% of women shopping for apparel on their phones are influenced into buying products displayed in context i.e. seeing women wearing products in their real lives. This is important to note as the digital landscape becomes increasingly complicated during this time of modern media culture and consumer control.

Because people now have the power to see (or not see) what they want right at their fingertips, brands have to work to earn consumers’ attention. Couple that with 200 million people installing ad-blockers over the past year in the U.S. and driving purchase intent as a brand is more difficult than ever, let alone getting your brand in front of a consumer and reminding them you exist.

By utilizing influencers — an authentic media channel that consumers trust, see as peers and actively choose to be exposed to — Revolve has been able to navigate through these digital marketing roadblocks to become a beloved brand with their target audience and continues to be a successful, growing business.

Does this mean every brand and advertiser out there should follow suit? Simply put, there is no blanket “yes” or “no” when it comes to influencer marketing. Depending on a variety of factors (objectives, goals, target audience, product, budget, etc.), working with influencers in various capacities may or may not make sense for a brand.

But, when influencer relationships are a good fit and partnership campaigns are done right, the proof is in the pudding that they can help brands reach target consumers, stay relevant within our rapidly changing culture, and yes, sometimes even drive sales (even if it’s not a metric most marketers expect from influencer marketing).

The influence of influencers is not going anywhere in 2017 (see CNN’s upcoming new media company with Casey Neistat). As a marketer, if you haven’t already, perhaps it’s time to consider how you can leverage influencers for your brand to drive reach, engagement and sales goals — before you’re one platform algorithm update away from being left behind.

Kylie Wu is a Brand Manager at Mistress.