When was the last time you visited an online shop, shared an item, or even made a purchase as a result of someone you follow on Instagram? You might not be able to recall who or when, but it’s likely you have. In fact, 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations to make purchasing decisions, and influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing and most effective forms of customer acquisition and brand awareness building methods available.
But can this strategy work for the bigger purchases in life? For big ticket expenditures such as televisions and holidays, the answer is undoubtably so. Even cars and sponsored weddings are beginning to be showcased on the channels of influencers. But what about homes? Interestingly, there’s increasing evidence that influencers are having some effect on the property market, particularly when it comes to new build homes.
Look at #newbuild, which returns 1.4m images on Instagram – from impeccably styled interiors to freshly installed UPVC; breaking ground on new plots to structures being demolished to make way for new additions. Turn your attention to YouTube, and “new build” commands thousands of videos informing viewers how to save for a deposit, step-by-steps through the process of conveyancing, Help to Buy, surveys and negotiating, to new-home tours.
That’s not to say that older homes don’t have their place in the influencer community. Accounts such as @thehousethatjenbuilt_and @katesvictorianhome offer an insight in to the world of renovations, extensions and “second-stepping”, and remind us that there are homes outside new build developments. But, there’s a clear steer towards new builds, perhaps due to government backed schemes such as Help to Buy and the appetite for new developments on the political agenda.
For many, entertainment value of this content comes from simply being interested in snooping around other people’s lives, or perhaps observing strangers talk about one of life’s remaining taboos – money – from a safe distance. But for others, lived experience, anecdotes and advice is valuable preparation for a life event most of us hope to someday achieve – creating a home for ourselves and our family.
Despite many career influencers having homes their viewers can only dream of – for example, YouTube power couple Zoella and Alfie Deyes’ Lewes mansion is the subject of much speculation – they still provide educational value when it comes to awareness, particularly when it comes to identifying brands, with piles of gifted homeware and appliances regularly receiving airtime on these highly targeted, engaged channels. Sophie Hinchcliffe (@mrshinch), known for her passionate cleaning regimes, is regularly causing household cleaning products to sell out when she demonstrates them live on Instagram stories from her highly stylised, all-grey new build home in Essex. Homeware brands with aggressive influencer marketing programmes such as Dunelm, Homesense and MADE are likely to peppered through the feeds of any interior décor fans Instagram or Pinterest.
Scaling down, “nano” (~1k-10k followers) and “micro” (~10k-50k) influencers provide significant value as they attract pockets of highly engaged, likeminded followers – perhaps those at a similar stage in life (young couples who are nesting, marrying, relocating, or starting a family) as well as those living in a similar geographical area; potentially engaging with local businesses, such as independent shops or even local tradespeople and services.
Some accounts even borrow the name of the home builder, development or home model to use in their handles, and this format is becoming more common as the popularity in these accounts rise. This also allows users to find other accounts owned by those buying at similar developments or from the same homebuilder as them.
But it’s not just home ownership that benefits from influencer culture – renters can revel in inspirational content; from deposit-friendly colour palettes to pet-proofing, with accounts such as @grillodesigns, who’s recent book “Home Sweet Rented Home” has proven a hit with those not tied to mortgage.
But why, in an online market once almost entirely dedicated to makeup and fashion, are influencers turning to document one of the most important and life-changing financial decisions one can make? Perhaps, with the rise in platforms that allow anyone to be a star, and any type of content to be monetised in some way, it’s hard to find a niche, so creators are branching out into new territories. Or maybe it’s a by-product of reality television; audiences appreciate a window into their favourite personality’s life, and the more they share, the more personality invested the audience feels.
Or finally, and most likely, it could be that home owning for the “Instagram generation” can often seem so unattainable – fraught with attacks on lattes and avocado on toast (excessive consumption of which is a clear sign of fiscal irresponsibility) – but new home influencers offer a real lifestyle with just enough charm to make them aspirational, without encroaching into “out of reach” territory.