The rise of influencers and the popularity of promoting healthy eating through social media is changing how brands successfully interact with consumers, experts say.
Senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Queensland Business School, Dr. Jo Previte, says the rise of “clean eating” has in part occurred because of consumers sharing more and more of themselves online, alongside greater awareness around diets and fitness.
“We’re all being made very conscious of the healthy lifestyle requirements, and there’s been a lot of education about how we should eat better and that we should do more physical activity,” she says.
“What interesting is it’s not the authorities that are starting the conversation, its people like us that we can relate to more to — and relating has been part of the momentum.”
The clean eating movement, which references organic and whole foods, as well as more specific eating plans and products such as gluten-free diets and drinks like kombucha, has a strong presence on highly visual social media platforms like Instagram. Social media “influencers” in these spaces are paid to promote and share certain food or drink products that facilitate this lifestyle, usually by making the products seem like a part of their everyday lives.
Previte says consumers are increasingly establishing a collaborative consumption model and redefining what they keep to themselves. She says with apps Uber and AirBnb are closing the gap between strangers and literally letting them into aspects of our lives.
By sharing our diets and lifestyles on Instagram and other platforms, Previte says consumers feel more encouraged to participate online and disclose information about themselves.
“It’s because other people are sharing that we feel a sense of being a part of that sharing environment,” she says.
In the future, Previte says we can expect to see more brand-savvy consumers, with consumers asking about where ingredients are sourced and seeking out brand information online.
“I think we’ll see more diversification in the food market and that people want to know what ingredients are in the products they purchase.”
Social media influencers here to stay
Serial entrepreneur Taryn Williams is founder of agency theright.fit, which links brands to influencers. She believes the growth of healthy eating movements and brands reflect the changing Australian lifestyle.
“We’ve got a beautiful culture. I think as a nation we are quite fit and healthy and have a beautiful outdoor environment, healthy living is a reflection of that. We’ve seen being promoted over the last 12 to 24 months,” she says.
Williams says social media influencers aren’t just a ‘trend’ and will probably stick around as a significant marketing force into the future, particularly in the healthy living space.
“I definitely don’t think we’ll see it going away anytime soon. As consumers are becoming more aware of the impact of healthy living and exercise, possibly prior to the real proliferation of social media and the internet, we didn’t have access to make these informed decisions about gluten intolerance and kombucha,” she says
Williams says the ability to source a ‘hyperlocal’ influencer can be a strong force to capture a niche audience.
“You can now find an ambassador to champion for your brand who is an authentic leader in that space. You can find a hyperlocal influencer in the northern beaches [in Sydney] who is gluten-free and has a following of young mums,” she says.
Brands are increasingly accepting influencers as a plausible method of conveying a cause, Williams says, and are now looking to develop long-term relationships with influencers to tell stories and share values.
“Companies now understand influencers are a brand themselves, they have messages to convey and they best know they audience,” she says.