by Matt Weik
To say that influencers aren’t powerful these days is a massive oversight. Influencers have been helping brands grow for years and it’s no different when it comes to supplement brands. Look at the Kardashians. You mean to tell me they aren’t helping sales when they post about a product or promote something? Think the influence Kylie Jenner has helped build her Kylie Cosmetics line? Of course, it did! She can also thank her parents and celebrity status for making her a billionaire at the age of 21 – not too shabby, right?
2020 Might Be the Last Year for Influencer Power
I want to start by saying I’m not an industry insider in the sense that I really care deep down what brands are doing internally with their decision making. Me, I look at the industry as a whole, not specific brands and I’m simply giving you my insight and thoughts. Am I right? I don’t know. Is this how I see it trending and dying off? Yup.
There are very few brands doing this with great success, but the one who I see the most benefit from would have to be Ghost Lifestyle. Now, I’m going to be completely honest with you, I’ve been in the supplement industry over a decade and I have yet to try one product from Ghost. Not that I have anything against them, they have a cult following, so good for them. But when it comes down to “athletes” or “ambassadors” they’re doing things right.
The downside of this is that influencers are here today and gone tomorrow. Just as soon as they become hot, they fade away and are forgotten about because the next hot model or person comes up and the cycle continues.
Social media platforms are cracking down on showing skin and the things you can advertise. Want to show off your abs in an ad? Think again. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook will deny you. Want to show before and after pictures to market your product through ads? Nope. Nice try though. Those will also be denied. Think you can post some half-nude selfies to gain followers? The platforms will make sure your image doesn’t show up in the feed and it will get fewer eyeballs.
Influencers who use their bodies to grow their following are finding themselves needing to get a real job. As platforms like Facebook and Instagram start cracking down on showing skin and anything sexual in nature, the engagement starts to dwindle for many influencers. Not to mention many supplement brands are finally starting to catch on that many “influencers” are buying their followers and that when they pay to work with someone who has 1M+ followers, only a small percentage of people will actually see the post and they never get a return on their investment.
The Upside for Supplement Brands
Let’s revisit the Ghost model and what supplement brands can take from what they’ve done. Two of their poster boys for the brand are Christian Guzman and Maxx Chewning. Both are YouTubers, yet from a fitness standpoint, they are polar opposites. Christian is known for his physique, Alphalete clothing brand, and his Alphalete Gym. Outside of YouTube, Maxx is only known for powerlifting.
In 2019, both Guzman and Chewning partnered with Ghost to come out with their own limited-edition product flavors. Without knowing the exact numbers, it seemed like both products were a success and sold great. One would think, though, that if they did that well, they would continue selling them and make them part of their product portfolio? No? As of January 2020, neither Christian’s or Maxx’s products are listed on the Ghost website.
When supplement brands work with influencers, it’s really a “get in while the iron is hot” campaign. You had Tracy Anderson release a line of products in Target that seemed to fail quite quickly (You are probably thinking the same thing as me… “Who the heck is Tracy Anderson?” Which might be why her line failed). Scivation teamed up with CrossFit athlete, Mat Fraser, to create a “Fraserade” flavor of their BCAA product which was a mix of blueberry and lemonade. GFuel even flipped the script and left the fitness side of things and did a collaboration with YouTube sensation Pewdiepie.
It’s great when you can leverage someone’s influence when the timing is right, but it’s not a lasting strategy most can sustain – nor should they make that the bulk of their marketing efforts. People’s social “value” goes up and down all the time. But that’s not to say supplement brands shouldn’t focus heavily on social media advertising.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Here’s where I think things start to fall apart with many supplement brands and their influencers, and that is the people they use are getting played out. Sorry, that might sound harsh, but you see the same faces all the time. It’s no longer a selling point.
Christian Guzman, Maxx Chewning, Rob Lipsett, Caroline O’Mahony… not only are they part of the Ghost Lifestyle crew, but they are also part of Alphalete. All the same people tend to be working together on multiple projects for multiple supplement brands. It almost seems like Ghost Lifestyle and Alphalete are one and the same from someone on the outside looking in – even though I know they aren’t. And that’s not a knock at either brand as they are both wildly successful on their own.
When you have someone who is hot at the moment, you scoop them up and leverage their social power. Guzman has been MIA from YouTube for a while and I honestly don’t believe Chewning is popular outside of his circle. Had I not seen him on a video put out from Guzman I wouldn’t even know who he is.
The “social currency” of influencers, in my opinion, is declining rapidly. Not to mention there have been quite a few influencers who were working with supplement brands and the influencers got into some legal issues and the supplement brands were left playing damage control.
Overall, I don’t think many supplement brands are finding value in influencers anymore. That’s not to say they won’t leverage some as ambassadors and allow them to sell the products as if they were part of the sales team. In exchange, they would get a commission check each month based on their sales. But I think the days of influencers getting big bucks just so supplement brands can use their name are long gone.
But hey… supplement brands, hit me up if you want to do a Weik Watermelon flavor!