A Three Part Series on the Creator Economy
Written by Heidi Mika, Director of Influencer Marketing at Mekanism
Creators are making a pivot from advertisers to entrepreneurs.
The emergence of creator brands started in the 2010s, but exploded during the pandemic in 2020. Influencers who were traditionally used as an advertising channel started taking the audience insights they have access to and turning them into fully actualized (and successful) products. This phenomenon is derived from the large internet-celeb brand trends like Kylie Cosmetics and the D’Amelio family’s Social Tourist, but to an extent the smaller scale creators have audience engagement to their advantage.
There are many reasons that a creator would want to develop their own product to augment their personal brand. Some creators understand that the influencer career path may not be sustainable, so rather than rely on potential brand opportunities, they can create and market their own product as a next step in their career growth. Others are looking to make a name for themselves on their own merit and don’t want to have to answer to brand guidelines they don’t align with.
Putting a Creator’s Audience to Use
The insights at the disposal of creators are like gold to marketers. Influencers have a direct, unfiltered line of communication with their followers which makes the influencer an expert on the wants and needs of their audience. Creators know exactly what their following wants to hear and how they’ll best receive it. This connection means that influencers have the potential to see gaps in the market that need specific answers, then answer it and profit. For example, TikTok creator @ash.ee, gained popularity for her tightly slicked military buns. After about one year of putting different brands of gel to her military wear test, she developed her own gel recipe, Combat Gel, that addressed her needs and the desires of her followers. The product instantly sold out and is now on an 8–12 week pre-order.
How can creators dip their toes into commerce without taking on too much financial or legal risk?
Some influencers may not be ready to dive head first into entrepreneurship. That doesn’t mean creators can’t capitalize on the brands and communities they’ve built online. While every creator is different, a good testing point for your brand is merchandise. Can you sell a product? Will people take out their credit cards and buy a product that you sell? A lot of the bigger brands that have launched from creators have been from more traditional YouTubers, who have taken 10+ years to nurture and grow a community (rather than just becoming an overnight sensation on TikTok and then launching a coffee brand).
The creator economy is empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs who are hyper-focused on their audience’s desires. As influencer marketing continues to evolve, expect to see more brands built on the backs of creators.
For more marketing and advertising insights and updates, visit the Mekanism blog.