CEO Dominique Lamb

The Meghan Markle Effect has been in full swing for some time, and if you check in with struggling Aussie retailer Oroton, her choice of handbag during a recent outing may have just saved the entire brand from going under.

The brand is struggling badly here in Australia and is relatively unknown in the US, however its Avalon Zip Top colour-blocked Crossbody sold out just hours after Markle styled it, and it’s now on backorder for an August arrival.

Everything this beauty wears sells out with incredible speed – her choice of a small Welsh brand of jeans, Hiut, for example, during an official visit to Cardiff caused such a surge in demand that the teeny company is now moving to a bigger factory to cope with an avalanche of orders. There’s a three-month waiting list!

This kind of attention (and boost to the bottom line) is the holy grail of retail, and while none of us knows what kind of arrangements Markle may or may not have with any of the brands she wears, it does illustrate the incredible value of influencer marketing.

Now that Instagram has reached more than 800 million active monthly users, 70 per cent of whom have already sought out various brands on the platform because they actually want to consume their content (source: KISSmetrics), it’s become an exceptionally powerful tool for ecommerce.

Marketing on Instagram is a mainstay form many newer labels – particularly those who’ve built their brands in a digital environment only (either to remain digital only, or to embrace physical stores as well).

The overwhelming majority of consumers also report that they trust recommendations from individuals over brands – and Instagram is leading the way when it comes to fashion retailing.

Fashion retailer Boohoo, which is aimed at Millennials, last year reportedly nearly doubled its profit after paying celebrities and influencers to promote its products on Instagram, as well as simply sending free clothes to slightly smaller influencers. Boohoo has targeted influences in a highly strategic way and it’s paid off.

Any retailer going down this path can reach highly-focused target markets, cultivate exceptional brand identity, and work collaboratively with other brands for mutual gains (ships in the harbor rise together as they say!),

Like all other marketing channels though, influencer marketing must be accompanied by a sound strategy, so it’s important to do your homework.

Work out what you want, what influencers charge and for what outcomes, what you’re willing to invest and what you expect to achieve, who you want to reach and why, and how to create a consistent and authentic identity for yourself – long before you actually lock someone down.

Relevance is far more important than reach for example; engagement should always trump overall follower size; and you need to engage with your chosen influencer several times in order to build credibility and long-term impact with their followers.

No matter what though, you just have to get involved – create consistent and individual social media pages and post at regular intervals, curate your offerings well, and engage regularly with other retailers, potential shoppers and influencers.

And with a bit of luck, you may just find yourself achieving the ultimate – the retail Princess Effect!

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO.