Kate Foster Lengyel, former chief marketing officer and executive president of direct to consumer for NYDJ Apparel, left her corporate job to launch her own digital platform called SwearBy.
After spending years in marketing and having witnessed the rise of the influencer, Lengyel discovered that her friends were far more trustworthy and reliable sources of product recommendations than any blogger or influencer since her friends weren’t being paid to say what they like.
The goal of SwearBy is to turn everyone into an influencer and share product recommendations with each other. SwearBy launched Wednesday in the App Store (beta version) and on a blog at swearby.com. The app allows one to follow people, ask for recommendations and post one’s own favorites, which they call “Swears.”
She said that people constantly tell you “what they swear by,” and there are conversations and texts, “but there wasn’t a place to consolidate all this info.” SwearBy combines social recommendations, reviews and editorial content with a click-to-buy feature from Amazon. The crowd-sourced recommendations and affiliate revenue model leverage the current rise in mobile commerce. SwearBy will eventually partner with brands with advertising programming.
Lengyel said so far, beauty is the number-one category people are “swearing by” but books, shoes and electronic gadgets are also popular. Some recommendations on the site include Essie Gel Couture Rock the Runway nail polish, a Sony A6000 lightweight camera and a Sunday Forever 11:11 candle.
She cited Experticity research that revealed only 18 percent of consumers trust blogger recommendations and that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. Still, some 78 percent of marketers have an influencer strategy in place. She realizes that brands keep serving this up to their customers “but it’s not moving the needle” like an authentic recommendation would from someone who has nothing to gain.
Lengyel has asked her friends to share the top five things that they swear by. She will introduce three new Swear Profiles every week featuring some friends and their Swears. She is also launching a holiday gift guide on Nov. 30 featuring users’ Swears which are the things they love enough to give as gifts.
The app will contain recommendations from everyone, while the web site will be a curated version. On the app, people can follow their friends and have a tight-knit universe where people post things. “It’s a reprieve from all the noise that’s happening in the influencer space,” she said. For now, she’s focused just on product, but services would be a natural extension, she added.
She said the way she will monetize the site is through affiliates and eventually sponsorships and retail extensions.
Lengyel spent six years at NYDJ and before that was vice president of global marketing at Juicy Couture.