Quarantine culture is having an unusual impact on affiliate sales.
Influencers are driving demand for face masks, Birkenstocks and muffin pans, according to ShopStyle, which works with more than 20,000 influencers. The company experienced a revenue growth of 90 to 100 percent year-over-year for March and April. It is trending in a similar direction for May, according to Lindsay Jerutis, general manager of ShopStyle Collective.
“We had a couple of days in April that were at levels you would see around Black Friday,” Jerutis said. “Clicks and shoppers are up anywhere between 50 and 90 percent based on the week. Average order value is down around 30 percent, which speaks to the fact that people are taking advantage of sales and deals, but the conversion rate in April was up over 100 percent.”
Loungewear and slip-on shoes are in high demand, with orders for Birkenstocks up more than 700 percent, according to ShopStyle.
In beauty, skin-care sales grew by 134 percent. Clicks for face mask grew by 218 percent, and clicks for face scrubs were up more than 400 percent. In makeup, clicks for lip gloss grew by 196 percent, and clicks for eye shadows were up more than 400 percent. Beauty tools, specifically nail tools and hairbrushes, experienced an increase in clicks, up 120 percent and 105 percent year-over-year, respectively.
Shelter-in-place guidelines contributed to home goods sales, with consumers in search of anything from corkscrews to decanters to kitchen storage units. Overall clicks for drinkware grew by 167 percent. Bakeware sales grew by 311 percent, with muffin pans emerging as the most popular item. Candle sales were up 392 percent, and sales of kitchen storage grew by 360 percent.
In March, when COVID-19 lockdowns began in the U.S., some marketers seemed to react by cutting spend on affiliates. That trend, said Jerutis, has since reversed.
“Many of the retailers who pulled off are actually back on with us,” Jerutis said. “This is a valuable way for them to drive sales. There’s a lot of subtle branding that happens in affiliate.”
She noted that in the first quarter, ShopStyle saw a 20 percent jump in “non-multibrand retailer campaign spend,” or single brands invested in driving sales through influencers.
“Right now, consumers are interested in diversifying where they’re spending their money online,” she said. “Quick shipping is not as readily available across retailers as it was in the past. Plus, there’s inventory issues, a lot that is pushing consumers out to try different brands to work with.”
As some of its retail partners — ShopStyle works with 1,600 in total — turn to influencers for content development, ShopStyle has been advising them to leave the messaging to the content creators. One particular case study shows why.
“We had one retail partner that was able to relinquish control of the language in a way they hadn’t in the past. It resulted in an almost 400 percent higher engagement rate than previous campaigns we’ve done, and 1,100 percent increase in sales in March and over 2,000 percent year-over-year growth in April,” said Jerutis. “It really behooved them to let the influencers own the language and marketing around it.”
More from WWD.com: