Retail CEOs look to Influencer power to future-proof their business

Influencer power panel at NRF

Influencer power panel at NRF

As retailers continue to seek ways to connect with consumers, an incongruous pairing emerged last night at the annual NRF Retail Big Show 2017 conference. The US retail CEO community looked to a panel of influencers for advice on how to improve sales in their businesses.

The all-female panel boasted a social media reach of 20 million people and included Arielle Charnas, founder of Something Navy; Camila Coelho, founder of Makeup by Camila and Aimee Song, founder of the blog Song of Style.


This place tho! Reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie. 😍 http://liketk.it/2q7A7 #liketkit

A photo posted by Aimee Song (@songofstyle) on

The event’s guest list, which read like a who’s who of US retail, listened to how every $1 spent on influencers, generates a ROI of $6.83, and that 92% of consumers go to social media for shopping decisions.

Such is the power of the influencer, that Charnas claims that one skincare brand sold $20k of merchandise off the back of one of her Snapchats. “These girls look to you and trust you – they hope you would not steer them the wrong way,” she said.

Speaking to the audience, Charnas called for brands and retailers to take a hands-off approach when working with bloggers. She emphasised the tension that occasionally appears between brands and bloggers, saying that sometimes brands try to control the content produced using their brands, when and how they blog on their sites and social networks, but emphasised that brands need to avoid doing this, as the bloggers know their audience and what will work with them best.

“We know what will do well and what we should push,” Charnas said.

What makes the bloggers so successful, Song said, is that people increasingly want personalised experiences, young people are more visual than prior generations and they want transparency, and these young social media influencers can offer that experience – a window into a lifestyle that can ultimately be purchased.

“Consumers can relate to us more than a 6ft model,” Song said.

The three bloggers all highlighted how Revolve has been working with influencers (Revolve is one of the few retail brands catering specifically to influencers, earlier this summer it held the Revolve House, a summer beach house in the Hamptons and invited key influencers to come down and social the event). The bloggers described how the retailer had given them all an experience, which Coelho said was a natural moment that they would want to share with their audiences, they were just doing it in Revolve products.

When old media complains about the presence of bloggers at fashion events, moderator Karen Robinovitz, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of Digital Brand Architects highlighted that influencers take 20% of seats at catwalk shows, but define 40% of the conversation online.

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