Why Nordstrom seems to be moving away from influencers

Why Nordstrom seems to be moving away from influencers

In 2015, Anna Jane Wisniewski woke up at 4 a.m. on a July morning to browse the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale so she could tell readers of her fashion blog, See Anna Jane, about the best discounts within minutes. after they are posted.

This year’s sale preview has been up for weeks, but she hasn’t shared anything about it on her blog, or to her 118,000 Instagram followers.

“It’s just not as exciting as it used to be,” Wisniewski said. “There aren’t a lot of new things.

Fashion influencers like Wisniewski have less incentive to get up early to post about Nordstrom’s annual mega sale and not just because of the product assortment. Nordstrom has reduced the discount influencers get when followers make a purchase on their referral to just 3.5% on LTK, a leading social media monetization platform. That’s down from 7% last year and up to 20% for some influencers in the past.

Influencers also have a narrower seven-day window on LTK when a link earns a commission, up from 30 days before. On LTK, influencers will also only be paid 270 days after a successful Nordstrom transaction.

“At LTK, we continue to see an increase in brand investment in influencer marketing,” LTK told BoF in a statement. “This year represents the biggest investment for nearly any brand on LTK, including Nordstrom, with a significant increase in creator investment across all spend categories.”

Still, the changes signal a major shift in how Nordstrom markets its biggest sale of the year. Influencers are not happy. For some, the anniversary sale was their main source of money, with a few generating six or even seven figures for the July and August period when Nordstrom scores new merchandise from popular brands such as Nike and Rag & Bone. Some felt a sense of ownership of the event, believing that their collective annual stream of posts helped make Nordstrom’s online sale a phenomenon.

“Influencers built the online birthday sale, they’re totally responsible,” Wisniewski said. “It’s disappointing…I felt like they were pulling a quick one.”

The decline in influencer marketing has gone on for years. The anniversary sale is always important to Nordstrom’s top line and bottom line — it’s one of the few such events to warrant regular mentions in the company’s quarterly earnings calls. But it has suffered from overexposure in recent years. Every July, consumers’ social media feeds are flooded with designers discussing discounts or sharing products and shopping. Some found the assortment repetitive from year to year, adding to fatigue. And other retailers have followed Nordstrom’s lead with their own flashy holidays.

Google searches for sale peaked between 2017 and 2019 and have more than halved since then.

In a sense, Nordstrom and its network of influencers have been victims of their own success.

“After years of devoting a ton of time and energy to promoting [the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale], I feel completely exhausted,” said Julia Dzaifc, an influencer who runs the Lemon Stripes blog. “Every year looks the same.”

The rise and fall of #NSale

Nordstrom embraced the power of influencers in the early 2010s and was among the first retailers to feature product collaborations with influencers like Blair Eadie and Arielle Charnas. This show of faith, in turn, led creators to connect more frequently with Nordstrom’s products.

“They have long-term strategies in place around affiliate campaigns and making sure creators understand what’s going on,” said Lindsay Jerutis, managing director of ShopStyle Collective, an influencer monetization platform. “It really helped cultivate a following with the brand over a long period of time.”

Offering a higher-than-usual commission during the anniversary sale — the average commission for fashion brands hovers around 10% — made this a particularly lucrative time of year for an influencer to double down on Nordstrom.

“For many influencers, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is the best, if not the best, month to generate revenue,” said influencer Merritt Beck, who runs The Style Scribe and has nearly 98,000 followers. on Instagram. Last July, the month of the anniversary sale, she said, was her highest-paying month for affiliate revenue to date, more lucrative than the holiday shopping season.

In 2020, the sale was pushed back a month due to the pandemic; when it finally went live, it was on a smaller scale. Since then, it has been moved to early and mid-July rather than late July and early August. The adjusted schedule made it harder to sell the primarily fall and winter merchandise that makes up the sale, Wisniewski said.

Influencers say the assortment includes more Nordstrom private labels and fewer items from brands that their followers care about, like Vince or Veronica Beard. Some items were marked down each year – a set of Diptyque candles, Natori bras, Spanx faux leather leggings.

“It became something you felt compelled to post about,” said influencer management consultant and influencer Carly Hill. “I would feel like I’m not doing my job if I didn’t talk about the sale of Nordstrom.”

Diversified income

Nordstrom has not commented directly on its decision to offer less favorable terms to influencers.

“Affiliate partners are some of our most valuable associates, and we regularly evaluate our offerings to create mutually beneficial partnership models,” a Nordstrom spokesperson told BoF.

The company may have felt it didn’t need to rely on influencers to publicize the sale, now that it’s so well-known to consumers. Cutting affiliate commissions will also help shore up margins as other costs rise, said Simeon Siegel, managing director of BMO Capital Markets.

Influencers are adjusting their coverage plans accordingly.

“I had already spent days on content…other than that, I don’t plan on spending more on it,” Beck said. “In years past, most of the content on my site was about selling in the month it was happening, so that’s definitely changed.”

The declining importance of selling reflects other changes in how creators make their living on social media, where building a niche following is increasingly seen as a better way to build a sustainable business. .

“Brands have diversified the way they reach consumers, and influencers are also adapting to the market and changing the way they reach their followers,” added Jamie Wachlarz, chief marketing officer of talent management agency Estate. Five.

However, there are major events that are still worth the investment. While influencers shared less about Nordstrom’s anniversary sale, they invested more time posting on Amazon’s Prime Day, Wisniewski said, adding that Amazon offers more competitive affiliate commission rates. and requires less time commitment from influencers.

“[Prime Day] is two days, you’re not producing content constantly for a month,” she said. “It’s kind of the new Super Bowl.”

Editor’s note: This article was last updated on July 18, 2022. A previous version incorrectly stated the length of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale delay in 2020.

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