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Opinion

How Influencers are Emerging as Tomorrow’s Brand Owners – The Rise of Multi-hyphenates

Influencer marketing is changing. It’s been over a decade since Zoe Sugg, often cited as the first mainstream influencer, began posting YouTube videos. Now, to maintain influence and engage new audiences, influencers are becoming multi-hyphenates.

Today we delve into how influencers are moving beyond posting, utilising lifestyles to create new brands and businesses, and mobilising followers to join them on their new, future-proofed ventures. 

What is a multi-hyphenate and why are influencers embracing the trend? 

The simplest way to define a multi-hyphenate is to imagine a jack-of-all-trades. And the trades are often positioned somewhere in the creative industries. Or, from the perspective of the influencer, in the words of multi-hyphenate and author Emma Gannon, it is “[A]bout choosing a lifestyle. This is about taking some power back into our own hands.”

The rise of multi-hyphenates is a move away from the traditional idea of an influencer being boxed into a single sphere, proving that they are much more than that.

With the entertainment industry needing to adapt to Covid-19 and keep its presence alive, we are beginning to see more celebrities striving to become multihyphenates in a bid to protect their future in such a way that celebrities of the past could not. It is these influencers who have created a path for new and upcoming influencers to follow. 

Therefore ‘taking some power back’ translates as the influencer using their audience to go beyond one realm of simple influence and to position themselves across multiple fields. 

How are multi-hyphenates changing influencer marketing?

The first hyphen an influencer adds to their bio is often ‘brand’ or ‘business owner’. With an engaged consumer base at their fingertips, it is a logical step. This transition from influencer to owner has two advantages. 

The first is that influencers who are savvy enough to keep direct engagement with followers also have the advantage of knowing what their audience wants.

Elle Darby, an influencer who rather recently transitioned from YouTuber into brand owner is a great example of this. After spending many years building up loyal and trusted audiences, Elle launched her own luxury loungewear brand specialising in the clothing items she loves the most. Whilst continuing to work with global brands, Elle is also a business owner and a successful one at that.

The second advantage is that influencers have the potential to multi-hyphenate with flexibility beyond many businesses that aren’t utilising influencer marketing. An influencer can own a brand in a market for which they are not traditionally associated, a travel influencer, say, could future-proof themselves by launching, for example, a clothing brand, a range of travel accessories, personalised travel stationary, a photography catalogue on Getty, etc. And this underpins the continuing importance of influencers for brand marketing strategies. 

How do influencers successfully become multi-hyphenates? 

When thinking of the new generation of business owners and multihyphenates, there are three influencers that are emblematic of their flexibility to pivot into new markets. This makes them especially attractive to brands. 

Rochelle Humes was previously ingrained in the pop world, starting her career at 12-years-old in S Club Juniors before joining The Saturdays and later becoming a social media influencer.

Rochelle used her knowledge and interest in fashion to partner with Very and New Look. And then, when she became a new mum, she entered the children’s author market with The Mega Magic Hair Swap and, on the back of that book, launched a hair, body, and skincare brand for babies and children, My Little Coco.

Rochelle has proven especially flexible within this newfound era of entrepreneurs, proving that a successful multihyphenate can continue to expand within their particular discipline. And, fitness influencer Grace Beverley has also done just that, by creating popular gym equipment brand B_ND while still a student. This was followed by TALA, a sustainable gym wear brand and the launch of her own app, Shreddy, which focuses on users achieving their fitness goals. 

This aggressive, rapid, and bold brand expansion is owed to the engaged nature of Grace’s followers, which continues to emphasise the importance and impact of influencer marketing, particularly when working with brands. Influencers have consumer loyalty and engagement often beyond the immediate reach of businesses. 

Entering the influencer space

Olivia and Alex Bowen show how non-influencers can move into the influencer space as a way of becoming multi-hyphenates and not only that, but how they can also become two of the biggest names in the industry. 

The Bowen’s were contestants on Love Island and rose to almost instantaneous fame. The pair jointly set up the diverse and unisex fashion brand Exempt Society, while Alex became the owner of his own health and fitness brand. This has resulted in the pair achieving several collaborations with fashion and fitness brands that without becoming multihyphenates, would not have been available to them.

The transition into multihyphenates has given influencer marketing a new and exciting energy especially in 2021. Paying careful attention to the influencers adopting these strategies will be crucial for brands in the coming months, with influencers able to curate products off of what they already know about their audiences.

Brands should continue to look to influencers as they are able to tap in and listen to what the consumer wants, meaning products are more tailored and connect quickly with the needs of buyers.

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