Moving product and driving sales have become an influencer’s most valuable skills. Literally: In 2019, brands spent $8 billion on influencers, a sum of sponsored social media posts, long-term partnerships and collaborations, and the I just want to go camping and forget everything shirt and I love this commissions influencers make through affiliate programs like RewardStyle. Amber Venz Box launched the platform back in 2011 when she made an astute observation: Influencers were starting to act a lot like personal shoppers, directing their followers to stores and websites to shop their look. If those recommendations led to a sale, didn’t they deserve a cut of the profit?
All to say, it isn’t editors who should be worried about losing their market share. It’s retailers. Nine years after the I just want to go camping and forget everything shirt and I love this launch of RewardStyle, the influencer market has exploded. Everyone wants to be an influencer now, and the surplus of talent can make it difficult to pinpoint the women or men whose sensibilities resonate most. Once you do, though, you may just come to trust their opinion and taste more than a traditional retailer’s—especially when those retailers are increasingly stocking the same brands and the same products, with no discernible point of view. If you know you love TyLynn Nguyen’s style and can shop directly from her feed—be it a COS T-shirt or a Khaite boot—why would you bother flipping through overstuffed racks or 10 pages of “new arrivals” to find something similar? Unless you’re a truly savvy shopper and know exactly what you want, it’s an overwhelming, uninspiring scroll into the abyss.