Teri Agins
by Karen Alberg Grossman
Teri Agins
Teri Agins

This week’s Retail Marketing Society meeting featured writer/reporter/lecturer Teri Agins, formerly of The Wall Street Journal. Her topic, based on her best-selling book Hijacking the Runway, was the impact of celebrities, bloggers and other influencers and how long these new fashion “authorities” will maintain their power over designers, retailers and consumers.

Her conclusion: bloggers and other “influencers” (no matter how obnoxious some of us find them) will be around for a while. With the internet such a major disruptor in the fashion industry, websites need content and celebrities are still the easiest way to create buzz.

But not all celebrities are created equal, said Agins. Red carpet celebrities are giving way to social media idols whose YouTube videos some may find downright “cheesy”: but “cheesy” to Gen Z (tweens through age 23) means “authentic.” Post-millennials, Agins tells us, value nothing more than authenticity.

Agins talked about influencers from Gabi Fresh and Kylie Jenner to Rihanna (whose Fenty Beauty business featuring 40 shades of foundation is a huge success based on the quality of the product, the void in the market for a wide range of skin tones, her multicultural heritage and her personal coolness factor), Jaclyn Hill, and other names I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of. (Although I’ve already forgotten the names, I do remember Agins mentioning one of their top-selling beauty products: a highlighter called Trophy Wife.)

“Figure out how to bring influencers into your world,” Agins advised her enraptured audience. “They shouldn’t eat up your entire marketing budget but they’re worth at least part of it.” She also noted that although influencers have surely suffered credibility issues of late (consumers now realize that some influencers “buy” followers; most promote product not because they love it but because the get paid to do so), their endorsements are still more effective than print ads since “not many young people read fashion magazines these days.”

As you can imagine, those are painful words for this fashion magazine editor to hear!

The Retail Marketing Society is a trade group with a mission to give members and guests insider insights into where our industry is heading next. For more info on membership or on attending future monthly meetings with important speakers and provocative discussions, call Anne Marie at 201-692-8087 or check out retailmarketingsociety.org.