Heartbeat’s acquisition of Iconery combines two businesses in the influencer marketing world now ready to ride the industry’s next wave.
Heartbeat, based in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, which links brands with influencers, confirmed it acquired Iconery, the company that helps influencers develop their own brands. Terms of the deal, which closed last month, were not disclosed.
The acquisition folds Iconery chief executive officer and founder Ivka Adam into the Heartbeat team, where she adds the chief marketing officer title to her name. Iconery and Heartbeat staff will settle in under a single roof in Venice, which was previously occupied by a portion of the Snapchat team and sits along the boardwalk. The companies had already been less than a mile from each other and had also worked together in the past.
Iconery grew based on a business model that helped big names such as Rashida Jones, Michelle Branch, Jen Gotch and Pia Arrobio launch product under their own brands by offering the production backbone and other resources to develop and then sell those items.
Heartbeat swims in a similar pool, having worked with companies such as Toms, Drybar, Bose, Dstld and Le Tote to connect them with influencers, with an emphasis on data to ensure said influencers are bringing with them an engaged following. That’s a key point in the world of influencer marketing, which has seen some pushback from brands complaining of the lack of return on their investments when shelling out big money for well-known bloggers to help push product at events that, in some cases, have turned out to be flops.
“We had gotten to a point where we actually hit profitability a year ago,” Adam said, “and I decided I didn’t want to take on any additional investment. We were taking on new accounts, doing new collections, working with Revolve and Ban.do, and we realized we were really good with the supply chain and drops, but we needed a little more marketing power.”
Heartbeat adds big data prowess to help Iconery further refine the assortments it’s releasing with influencers, said its cofounder and chief operating officer Kate Edwards. Meanwhile, Iconery offers the e-commerce and product development expertise.
“Ivka’s knowledge of that [e-commerce] space, not to mention the supply chain-as-a-service system that they’ve built, those two things for me made [Iconery] incredibly appealing,” Edwards said.
Iconery will continue for the next several months with the release of jewelry, which is partially what the brand is associated with. However, in the future it will expand into other categories, such as small leather goods or ceramics. It will be selective and dependent on the influencers it’s working with, Adam said of category expansion.
The two executives see the acquisition as coming at a good time, with yet another shift happening in the marketing world. Initially, business saw the rise of influencers used to help companies sell their products. More recently, the market has seen influencers gain enough traction and clout to launch their own branded merchandise. Now, as consumers look more critically through the lens of authenticity, influencers are losing ground to what Adam and Edwards say is the “real person.”
“One of the things that Heartbeat does best is understanding consumer trends and marketing trends because we have this focus group of hundreds of thousands of people. The reason that I think this is something that’s really monumental for the industry is we’re a company taking a data-driven approach to the influencer economy and Ivka’s company has really taken a brand-building approach that’s been influencer-driven,” Edwards said. “The two companies will be able to put our best foot forward for influencer 3.0, which is really about word of mouth and grassroots — everyday people spreading the word about products.”