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BRI Survey: Pepsi, Airtel, Glo Emerge Most Vibrant Brands Using Influencers

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Instagram, Facebook Twitter Are highest-ranking platforms for engagement

Images, written posts and video stories are most preferred form of content

As brands seek ways to establish deeper, more personalized connections with consumers, and as marketers are tasked with engaging consumers across a growing abundance of channels and platforms, it can be challenging to establish relationships that are genuine and personal.

With a focus on brand building, brands and marketers are continually looking for ways to stay top-of-mind with potential buyers. To do this, many are turning to social media—and influencers—to make more personal (and profitable) connections with consumers. Global marketers plan to increase their social media spend by 53% in the next year, more than any other channel. And social media remains global marketers’ most bankable channel, as 64% of the global marketers surveyed for this year’s Annual Marketing Report say it’s their most effective paid channel.

In recent times, these brands and marketers are engaging social media influencers more heavily than in previous years. This increased focus speaks to both fragmenting media consumption and the significant engagement that many influencers boast across channels like YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.

While influencer marketing was not born out of the pandemic, social circumstances over the past 18-plus months have fostered a stronger need for interpersonal connection among consumers, and social media has delivered. On Instagram, for example, data from Nielsen Influence Scope, a solution suite that measures social media influencers, shows that the top 10 influencers by engagement rate have a combined 110 million global followers. The top 10 total interactions with those influencers commanded an engagement rate of 28%.

The massive follower bases and engagement rates across social media platforms have not gone unnoticed by brands. The 2021 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report, for example, noted that marketers planned to increase their social media spend more than any other channel, including growing options like online video and podcasts.

Of particular interest in this regard is a comprehensive research report by Market Research Future (MRF) which says the valuation of the vibrant space is poised to reach USD 2.85 Billion by 2025, registering an 8% CAGR throughout the forecast period (2020–2025).

And it’s easy to see why marketers are putting so much spend behind social media and influencer marketing. Nielsen Scarborough found that 42% of Americans seek the advice of others for purchase decisions, and they want that advice to come from relatable sources. And when it comes to being relatable, influencers can forge more relevant connections with consumers than many other sources. According to the 2021 Nielsen Trust in Advertising study, 71% of consumers trust advertising, opinions and product placements from influencers.

Armed with this background, the Brandcomm Research & Intelligence (BRI) Unit beamed its research focus on consumers’ perception on the use of Brand influencers and the influence these influencers have on their purchasing habits

The focus on this is key especially in this market where consumers’ preferences are changing rapidly due to several factors, which vary across industries. In the previous edition of Brand Communicator Intelligence Report, for instance, it was discovered that despite the importance of advertisement, it has minimal effect on consumers’ choice of toothpaste products. Now the spotlight shifts on social media influencers, whose digital media platforms are “billboards” upon which several brands are promoted.

These influencers have also become opinion shapers of some sort who can influence public decision making, as their recommendations are usually seen as genuine, inspirational, and resonating well with people. Generally, they are presumed to help to increase brand awareness, thus generating leads, and increasing sales and revenue.

BIU’s survey was carried out on a random cross-section of Nigerian youths within the Millenial and GenZ bracket to ascertain the effects of social media influencers on their purchase decisions as well as their perception on brands that most appeal to them using influencers. Just as with the last survey, these respondents were specifically chosen because statistics show that social media use among young adults is on a steady rise. Majority (76.5%) of the respondents who participated in the survey were female, while only 23.5 percent were male. Also, majority (70.6%) of the sampled respondents were Millenials, within the age range of 26 and 41 years, while few (29.4%) were between 10 and 24 years (Gen Zs).

Figure 1: Age range of sampled respondents.

One of the most interesting and remarkable findings of the report is about the brands these respondents feel are getting closer to them through these influencers. This is no surprise as major brands in the Nigerian are leveraging the favourable shift in consumer behaviour towards social media, by commissioning micro and macro influencers and ambassadors for brand endorsement. From the polls conducted, it is obvious that Pepsi Naija’s penchant for projecting the intrinsic value and building emotive connections with consumers across diverse entertainment platforms including Big Brother Naija, among others, has not gone unnoticed as 17.6 percent of the respondents indicated that Pepsi connects more with them than any other brand through their influencers and ambassadors.

This is followed closely by Airtel Nigeria-a brand that has single-handedly built an ‘advert series’ with some of the biggest names in Nollywood. This is as 15.8 percent of respondents equally say they readily connect with the telecommunication brand through engagements with their influencers in the past four months (see Figure 4).

Unsurprisingly, the much-touted ‘Grandmasters of Data’, Glo also makes up the top three most engaging brands using influencers. Their intentional use of these influencers in their ATL Materials as well as on other BTL Led campaigns has not gone unnoticed as 11.8 percent of respondents equally recognized the telecommunication giant’s strides in this regard.

Other brands identified include Tecno (11.8%), Bigi (9.8%), Oppo (9.8%), MTN (5.9%), Infinix (5.9%), Coca Cola (5.9%), Samsung (2.0%) and other uninvestigated brands (3.9%).

Figure 2: Some brands that have engaged consumers through social media influencers in the past four months.

As social media adoption surges across all age groups, one finding of this survey is to help in understanding how different generations use social media. This survey looks at two generations’ time spent on social media also. Though the report is at variance with some other global surveys, this study’s is nuanced based on the peculiarity of the Nigerian demography.

For instance, according to Global Web Index, Gen Zs spend an average of 2 hours 43 minutes a day on social media while Millennials spend an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes on social media per day. But this report which combines both generations pegs the average time respondents spend daily on social media at 6hours 45 minutes, with the lowest and highest duration as 1 hour and 16 hours, respectively.

It was also discovered that Instagram (22.7%) and Facebook (22.7%) are the highest-ranking platforms for engagements with social media influencers.

Figure 3: Social media platforms with the highest engagement with consumers through influencers.

Additionally, the survey also considered respondents’ preferences for the kind of content they consume. It was found out that respondents had the highest preference for images (76.5%), written posts (70.6%), video stories (58.8%), and blog articles (47.1%). Others include testimonials and reviews (35.3%), infographics (23.5%), GIFs and memes (23.5%), and live videos (17.6%).

This clearly indicates that audio-visual materials are the most popular content options used by influencers for promoting brands. Thus, with the growing popularity of platforms such as Instagram, Facebook Live, IGTV, YouTube, and TikTok, there is no telling what the next big trend in influencer marketing will be.

Figure 4: Social media content options for influencer marketing.

In a bid to ascertain the effect of social media influencers on purchase decisions, the respondents of this survey took a perception assessment, with the use of both positive and negative statements for bias reduction. All statements were measured on an ordinal scale; positive statements, as Never – 1, Rarely – 2, Occasionally – 3, and Always – 4, while negative statements as Always = 1, Occasionally = 2, Rarely = 3, Never = 4.

Upon analysis, results (in Table 1) reveal that almost half (47.1%) of the respondents have made occasional purchases based on recommendations from a social media influencer, while 41.2 percent have never suffered a bad purchase experience by following a social media influencer’s recommendation. Also, on rare occasions, 35.3 percent of the respondents do not trust product or service reviews by social media influencers. This lends credence to the fact that influencer marketing helps to provide strong validation and trust in brands, thus creating great brand experiences for consumers. On the other hand, instead of social media influencers, it was discovered that traditional advertising (through TV, Radio, or Print) create more awareness about a product/service for 41.2 percent of the respondents. This clearly shows that traditional advertising is still very relevant in Nigeria’s brand and marketing industry, and may be irreplaceable.

Some statements captured from respondents also corroborated their confidence about an influencer’s product/service review. Elizabeth, 27 years, said: I feel confident and I didn’t regret the recommendation. Lekan, 26 years, also stated: I believe in reviews. If the comment section of the influencers has good reviews, it is a plus. Although these evidences validate the positive effect of influencer marketing on the consumers’ decision to purchase a product/service, some respondents expressed their reservations. Atinuke, 31 years, said: Social media influencers are mainly commissioned by brands to give positive reviews of their products/services. Hence, their opinions may not always be trusted. Yet another respondent (Gloria, 30 years) opined: Some of them advertise products on their page without verifying if the product is good or not. This shows that influencer marketing may lose its appeal among consumers if brand promotion is void of transparency and credibility.

Perceptional statements ascertaining effect of social media influencers on purchase decisionsExtent of effect (%)
 AlwaysOccasionallyRarelyNever
I purchase products/services based on recommendations from a social media influencer0.047.123.55.9
I do not trust product or service reviews by social media influencers11.823.535.35.9
Advertisements (TV, Radio, or Print) make me more aware of a particular product or service than social media influencers29.441.25.95.9
I have suffered bad purchase experiences after following recommendations by social media influencers5.929.40.041.2

Table 1: Effect of social media influencers on purchase decisions among youths.

In Nigeria, there is an upsurge in the quantity and quality of contents churned out regularly by social media influencers, who are mostly skit makers, bloggers/vloggers, music artists, actors, work professionals, industrialists, and even work-from-home moms. According to this survey, the most popular influencers in Nigeria include Sisi Yemmie, Adegoke Pamilerin, Nancy Isime, Mr. Macaroni, Broda Shaggi, Sabinus, Taooma, Aproko Doctor, Linda Ikeji, Doctor Olufunmilayo, and a host of others.

Conclusively, influencers can be a powerful tool to increase brand awareness for marketers capable of hitting the right combination of persona, content and engagement. Brands that align themselves with the right influencers can become a trusted source for consumers—and the brand they remember when they want to make a purchase.

Indeed, this survey has confirmed its positive effect on consumers’ decision to purchase any product/service. However, it may lose its effectiveness in increasing brand awareness, sales and revenue, if credibility and trust are compromised by social media influencers and the brands they represent. It is thus imperative for social media influencers, influencer marketing agencies and brands to be more strategic in their campaign approaches, within an atmosphere of trust. After all, “a trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising”, in the words of Mark Zuckerberg.

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