business news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

First of all, Happy New Year … I trust you had a happy and prosperous holiday season, and that you are embracing 2020 with vigor and ambition for change and disruption. I know I am.

I'm not someone who believes a lot in New Year's resolutions, mostly because I've always found them to be temporary at best and illusory at worst. I sort of feel like I'm kidding myself, making promises to myself that may not be kept, and that really may be an attempt to make myself feel good about the next few days.

But I was reading a couple of stories the other day that prompted me to think that maybe a little resoluting may be in order … at least for businesses trying to figure out how to compete in an increasingly cutthroat environment.

The stories referred to a recent Morning Consult poll about influencer culture:

Some stats:

• "Almost three quarters (72%) of all Gen Z and millennials follow influencers, and teenagers are more likely to follow many."

• "86% of Gen Z and millennials say they are willing to post sponsored content for money. However, money isn't a crucial motivator-61% say they are already likely to organically post about the brands they like."

• "27% claim to know an influencer personally and 12% consider themselves to be influencers."


Now, I have to admit that I've always been a little skeptical, to put it mildly, about influencers. I've generally thought of many, if not most, of them as being people who have figured out how to turn social media savvy into a paying gig without any particular knowledge or passion or experience about anything other than themselves.

(I've been writing MNB for more than 18 years. Does that make me an influencer? I've never thought of myself that way, but maybe I should put it on my business card. It'd make me sound hip. Or at least a little hipper. Then again, the use of a business card might work against that. But I digress…)

There actually were a couple of notes in the survey that grabbed my attention:

• "Being knowledgeable about what they're promoting makes an influencer's followers 56% more likely to buy the product or service they're advertising.

• "Being relatable makes their followers 49% more likely to buy what they're promoting."
So that's something. People are trusting influencers that they consider to be authentic. Though, to be clear, just because you appear authentic doesn't mean you are … to paraphrase George Burns, "If you can fake authenticity, you've got it made."

It seems to me, though, that it might be a worthwhile endeavor for retailers looking to carve out a definable and defensible position in the minds and hearts of their shoppers to create their own influencer initiatives … making it a priority in 2020 not just to sell stuff to people, but to work hard to influence how they think and act and … especially in the food business … eat.

Why not? You have the people, knowledge, expertise, and passion to do so … you probably just haven't thought about the world in this way. And I'm not just talking about social media, though that clearly is important … I'm talking about in the store, and in every interaction with your customers.

The question you and your people need to ask yourselves is not just "what are our shoppers buying?" It also is: "How can we influence them and make their lives better?"

And if you don't have the people, knowledge, expertise, and passion to do so?

Well, if that's the case, there's another George Burns line that might be apropos … "Say goodnight, Gracie."

That's what is on my mind as we start the new year, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: