The explosion of social media usage, evolving shopping behaviours, the democratisation of ecommerce and career flexibility have contributed to the rise of the creator economy. As people are looking for more ways to monetise themselves, their skills, and creations.
Like the rest of the ecommerce market, China has been leading the way. Creators or Kol’s in China are incredibly powerful, and many have become brands in their own right.
Ruhan’s (a Chinese incubator for influencers) top influencer brand sold over $24.6 million in a single day. Ruhan’s influencer brand ranked eighth, in terms of sales volume, for top women’s fashion stores, only outsold by brands like H&M; and UNIQLO.
Whilst Influencers in the West have been using platforms like Instagram to build their fan base, most of their content is produced for free, relying on big brands to supplement their income. With the exception of You Tube, most haven’t provided the tools to monetise that content.
But change has begun. Some creators have become influential enough to draw users to new platforms. Creators are gaining power in the media ecosystem as fans seek to connect with individual personalities.
New platforms are emerging that provide the tools and capabilities for creators to monetise their influence. One of these is Popshop Live, which recently secured $20m funding, backed by the likes of Kendall Jenner. It allows creators to connect their products to their audiences through live shopping, video entertainment and conversation with their fans.
Another is Spri.ng, which allows creators to design their own products, create a customer store, integrate with social channels to share product launches with their community, all whilst Spri.ng handle production, shipping, and customer support.
In response, You Tube, Amazon, Facebook, Tik Tok and Snap are all fighting for creators’ attention, knowing that they offer the secret to keeping both an audience engaged and the platform relevant. Tik Tok have put aside a creator fund of $241m (increasing to $1bn over the next 3 years), You Tube $100m and Snapchat $1m a day. Instagram recently rolled out their own creator network, allowing them to build, connect and monetise their brand across the platform.
The increased ability to engage with consumers through video and live content and with the ability to dovetail that with ecommerce, will make influencers more accountable, and the good ones more powerful, changing the way influencer marketing works. With the rise of the creator economy, brands have to acknowledge that no longer can they control the message. Instead, they must become part of the conversation. Associating themselves with the creators who can build trust and deep connections on their behalf is imperative for the ones who want to stay relevant.