29 May Is there a correlation between followers and sales?
‘No one has proven yet that numbers of followers translates to revenue’ stated former model Rebecca Romijn during an interview with ET after being questioned on her view of models, like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, who have a larger presence on social media than the runway itself. Catherine McGill (General manager of of Vivien’s Models) told the Daily Mail that their clients have now asked for models with a ‘high social media following’ for exposure, and have had to change their negotiation process to fit social media, ‘Now when we’re booking talent, in negotiation process, we talk about the girls numbers’; the agency have even set up a section called ‘influencers’ due to the demand of brands that ask for the models number of followers. In addition, over the past five years’ bloggers have taken the fashion world by storm, with Chiara Ferragni of ‘The Blonde Salad’ demanding up to $50,000 to participate or hold an event. However, at the end of the day you cannot translate the number of followers printed on your profile into your bank account.
The models that flood onto our newsfeeds are most likely to be the girls and boys with the highest following, and are the proceeded onto be called the now-not-so-prestigious name of ‘supermodel’. The so-called ‘influencers’ have the ability to grab the attention of the younger demographic through their more child-friendly approach compared the straight-forwardness of the brands; precisely why Estée Lauder hired Kendall Jenner in 2014. Look at this from another perspective now. Hilary Rhoda has been working for the cosmetic brand since 2007, and ranked in at No. 9 at Forbes’ Highest Paid Models of 2014, yet only has 171,000 compared to Jenner’s 58,100,000; failing to break the Forbes’ Top 15 even last year. But no one has questioned this theory of the correlation that seems to be inadequate. I am not denying the fact that Kendall does not on- average gain 1.5 million likes per photo, but the comments on the pictures are mainly ‘LB’ (like back) meaning that people use her photos to gain likes on their own and do not focus on the content nor comment on the image, that has been paid to be posted by brands.
Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain has created his own ‘Balmain Army’ made of the most followed celebrities and models in the world right now. His “clique” contains individuals such as Jourdan Dunn, Rosie Huntington- Whiteley and Alessandra Ambrosio, who are bombarded onto billboards across cities. Rousteing dresses the Kardashian/ Jenner clan for practically every event that they attend which helps the brands publicity, BUT the brand’s revenue of 2015 is estimated to be around €30 million. Hedi Slimane, recent former creative director of Parisian brand Saint Laurent, raised €973.7 million alone of revenue in 2015. Slimane did not have any interviews, nor did he cast one “Insta It” model in any one of his shows or use social media to promote the clothing, proving that talent alone can raise your revenue without paying others to promote your brand. Furthermore, the fashion house reported a sales increase of 37% on a reported basis and 27% on a comparable basis.
Declan Eytan for Forbes spoke to Edward Buchanan, designer and founder of Sansovino 6 on the importance of bloggers and their presence on the internet ‘I think bloggers can get a certain level of consumer excited – a young consumer. Or a young viewer, since they’re not necessarily buying the fashion. They may like Yeezy but they’ll go to Zara and get a €50 shirt in a nude tone. And they’ll feel fierce’. The overall problem that Buchanan has highlighted is that the majority of followers that the blogger or model has, are very unlikely to buy the $450 sweatshirt she/ he is promoting for a high fashion brand but are prone to go to buy a cheaper, similar version of the original from the high street. Moreover, Eytan emphases the point that within his extensive research for his article ‘Are fashion bloggers able to convert followers into buyers?’ that ‘None of the brands contacted were able to confirm that fashion bloggers are able to boost sales, which is odd, considering one wouldn’t make an investment if they’re unable to track returns’.
Brands are able to reach wider audiences by hiring models with larger followings, and paying bloggers to take pictures of their clothes, but the long term effect of this could be damaging to the brand’s ethos and exclusivity. If everyone with over 100k followers is wearing the same t-shirt you sent them, does that not diminish the point of high fashion that not everyone is wearing the same item. Likewise, picking the same models who may lack talent but are increasing their sacred follower figure daily not make the standard of what they’re creating fall? With Balmain being the perfect example, proves that the number of users that you are reaching does not alter your revenue at the end of the year.
There is no correlation.
Top Image courtesy of Balmain