Brandspeak: The Rise of the “Power Middle” Influencers

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Brandspeak Stacy DeBroff Influence Central

The following is a guest post by Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central:

In today’s celebrity-drenched culture—where consumers endlessly follow the latest celebrity styles, happenings and social posts—brands often think of star power when they look to launch an Influencer Marketing campaign. While both traditional and new social media celebs can help a brand make a splash and generate overall awareness, they usually come up short when it comes to actual sales conversions.

Why? Today, when consumers move into buying or trying mode, they want trusted, first person recommendations to come from someone who shares their life stage or lifestyle—someone who faces the same budgetary constraints, pressures, and priorities they do. And our research stats detailed below show how the overall lack of celebrity credibility diminishes their ability to convince everyday consumers to buy.

As a result, we’re now see the increasing strength of the “Power Middle”—passionate influencers recognized for their authenticity who command a strong and engaging community of followers. From advice on the durability of kids’ sneakers to recipes that please a variety of picky eaters, consumers look to Power Middle influencers for grounded, real-life insights that inform their day-to-day purchasing decisions.

When talking about the Power Middle, we consider that to be an influencer who will have a total campaign reach among their social media platforms or blog that averages 300,000 readers.

We’ve included below five key findings from recent Influence Central research studies that illuminate how creating Influencer Marketing campaigns around Power Middle influencers can help brands create retail lift.

• Firsthand Perspective from the Power Middle Resonates with Consumers
Consumers increasingly seek out relatable, authentic content and storytelling when they turn to online opinions or recommendations. What lets them know they can trust what they read? Our recent research study on Social Media Recommendations & Reviews reveals that the Top 2 signals include: 1) when the recommendation comes from someone who speaks from firsthand experience, and 2) when it comes from a verified user or purchaser.

• Consumers Turn to Peer Recommendations Along the Path-to-Purchase
While it can be fascinating to see how celebrities tackle everything from exercise routines to baby care, today the Power Middle moves the needle for both brand awareness and purchase behavior as consumers turn more and more to peers and trusted influencers for advice and opinions. In fact, our study revealed that 80% say they often seek these peer and trusted recommendations before making purchasing decisions.

• Celebs Fall Far Down on the List of Drivers for Product Decision-Making
So when consumers embark on their purchasing journey, where do they turn for insights? Another Influence Central research study focused on Shopper Marketing illuminated which sources proved most helpful to consumers in discovering new products or making purchasing decisions. Our research revealed that friends and family came in at No. 1, followed by lifestyle influencers – for example, “foodies” (No. 2) and Mom bloggers (No. 3). Respondents placed experts/celebrities far down on the list of purchase drivers – coming in at No. 10.

• Celebrity Endorsements Offer Little Impact for Millennials
Even though we may think that the Millennial demographic focuses significantly on today’s online celebrity culture, our research study on the Millennial Consumer revealed that celebrities don’t seem to move the needle for this cohort when it comes to product discovery. In fact, 68% remain unfazed by a celebrity spokesperson’s influence when promoting a brand/product. So what does make an impact for Millennials? Once again, peers prove most effective in shaping purchasing decisions, as 66% say they rely most on friends’ advice when making technology purchases.

• Power Middle Influencers Insert Real-Life Appeal into Celeb Campaigns
There will continue to be occasions where brands want to build a campaign around a celebrity influencer – for example, they recently may have signed on a celeb as a spokesperson or a rising star has become known as an advocate of a product. In these instances, Power Middle influencers also prove effective when used in concert with celebrity-based campaigns. They can help round-out or supplement a star-studded program – showcasing influencers passionate about sharing their firsthand experiences with a product in ways with which most consumers can identify.


Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central, is a social media strategist, attorney and best-selling author. A frequent national and international speaker, she consults with brands on consumer and social media trends. 

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