3 MINUTE READ | January 8, 2024
How Fashion Brands Leveraged Influencer Activations this Holiday Season
Maddie Ewell is an Influencer and Branded Content Associate at PMG, supporting the development and execution of influencer campaigns and managing the creation of branded content. She also supports the team’s Trends Report Task Force, providing clients with a monthly pulse check on industry and social trends and conversations. Maddie joined PMG via the company’s Graduate Leadership Program and worked on PMG’s paid social team for two years prior to joining the influencer team.
Reflecting on the holiday period, we saw influencer activations play a leading role across advertising programs this season, underpinned by a few unique creative trends and effective strategies that ultimately helped brands resonate with consumers in new ways.
First, we saw successful retailers focus more of their influencer budgets on mega/macro-influencers (500K-2M+ reach) and celeb-level talent to drive brand awareness, upper-funnel metrics, and bring in new audiences leading into the holiday season. These top-tier influencers were leveraged as ambassadors rather than one-off partners to help curate exclusive collections, build brand personality, and create an ongoing content series. Additionally, brands chose celebrities or mega-talent that served to bridge a gap in brand perception, such as upping fashion credentials and making classic brands “cool” and fun for new, younger audiences. This strategy drove mass awareness and built brand trust, loyalty, and an authentic partnership with the influencer.
Madewell partnered with mega-fashion influencer Aimee Song to launch a holiday collection, aligning her signature style with elevated outfits for seasonal events. Athleta partnered with mega health and wellness influencer Melissa Wood-Lepperberg to host Move With Athleta, an IRL wellness series in New York City. Similarly, Gap partnered with luxury lifestyle influencers, including Hannah Fallis Bronfman, to promote the brand’s bestselling cashmere sets during Cyber Week.
Standout brands also leveraged influencers to provide holiday inspiration and drive engagement. By tapping into holiday conversations and trends, brands organically infused themselves into culture and remained hyper-relevant. It was critical to align with seasonal consumer behaviors during the holiday season, i.e., hosting a holiday party, going to and getting ready for a holiday event or family gathering, traveling, baking, decorating, self-care, searching for the perfect holiday gifts, and planning and goal setting for the new year.
Tory Burch partnered with New York City-based personal chef and TikTok star Meredith Hayden to show off her holiday party prep, inspiring her audience with festive food and the perfect outfit. By partnering with a top Gen Z creator with a macro cross-platform audience, Tory Burch inspired coolness and relatability for the classic, designer brand. This sponsored holiday content series went viral with 16.9 million views on TikTok and effectively built brand love, awareness, and engagement.
Once a brand had effectively generated awareness and resonated with consumers via strong influencer-led brand awareness campaigns, it was time to drive conversions during the peak retail shopping season. For conversion, the best messaging we saw this season was product-focused, promotional, and incorporated gifting messaging—for an individual and others.
Retailers across categories ran video shopping ads on TikTok to draw in new customers and showcase key product catalogs for mid- to lower-funnel influencer ads. These paid efforts paired nicely with influencers doing a try-on haul or showcasing a look for a particular occasion. In one example, Revolve offered its 20% sitewide sale, where creators supported the sale via ephemeral content linking out to landing pages and curated collections of the influencer’s favorite pieces from the brand’s catalog.
In 2024, we encourage brands to test and experiment with new ad formats and add-ons in order to capitalize on unique shopping trends, including interactive add-ons like TikTok’s countdown stickers or gift code stickers and TikTok’s Video Shopping Ads. Review-style content, which worked well during the holiday season, resonated with consumers as they used TikTok as a search engine when evaluating gifts. Lastly, custom landing pages featuring the influencer’s top brand picks, including the pieces they wear in content, help to drive a more seamless and efficient shopping experience for the end user.
Brands partnered with influencers and creators in new and exciting ways throughout the holiday season. While we’ll continue to see brands strategically leverage creators and influencers to drive relevance and brand engagement, these trends underscore the importance of executing a full-funnel influencer strategy that:
Drives brand awareness and brand love with brand-aligned mega/macro-influencers
Encourages consumers to engage through relatable, relevant holiday content
Utilizes a test-and-learn approach with unique platform ad formats and interactive ad-ons to create a seamless shopping experience—ultimately driving conversions.
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Combined, these tactics highlight the significance of ensuring strategic alignment across your business and experimenting with innovative methods to make the most out of creator and influencer collaborations both during the holiday season and throughout the year.
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