The Influencer Economy

As we explore how Affluents make media choices and purchase decisions, we are consistently struck by the importance of word-of-mouth and personal recommendations from others. In fact, across many of the categories we examined, recommendations from friends or family are consistently among the most frequently cited factors shaping marketplace decisions. 

Our latest studies examined the opposite side of this dynamic – understanding the influencer rather than the “influencee” – and underscores the finding that the Influencer Economy is widespread, growing, and extremely impactful. For example, our research finds that…

  • Affluents are spreading their influence more than ever; they are increasingly likely to describe themselves as taking the lead in decision-making, and enjoying the process of sharing their opinions. 
  • Affluents are also spreading their influence more widely, as their interpersonal networks are growing in size, both online and offline. 
  • Affluents continue to grow in their financial influence, fueled by factors including the trend toward income concentration. 



These factors combine to make the Influencer Economy particularly potent among Affluents – three-fourths consider themselves influential or provide advice in at least some respect, with nearly half describing themselves as influencers in areas relating to media, dining and travel.

Looking ahead, expect the Influencer Economy to become even more widespread and potent. The rise of social media and the popularity of consumer review sites are providing more platforms for Influence. More individuals now have the motivation and the tools to build a following; at the same time, consumers are increasingly seeking the advice of others for a variety of reasons.

For media and marketers, the growing Influencer Economy presents challenges and opportunities. They must adapt and evolve to thrive in a marketplace where their influence on consumers is sometimes less direct, and increasingly mediated through the lens of Influencers. Still, by connecting and collaborating with Influencers, brands have the opportunity to connect with more consumers, more quickly, more efficiently, more authentically, and in ways that are more mutually-satisfying. 

Many brands are striving to make their content more “snack-able” and “share-worthy,” in an effort to increase the odds that Influencers will disseminate that content further. But getting the attention of Influencers, and truly engaging them, first requires a deeper understanding of who Influencers are and what inspires them. Beyond an enthusiasm for a particular category, our profiling work suggests they are often early adopting, high-spending, information-hungry people of passion. In other words, they might be your most important customers even if they weren’t influential, and their influence magnifies their importance even further. Clearly, media and marketers would be wise to think of the Affluent market as an Influencer Economy.

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