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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Internet Influencers – US market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

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Influencer marketing refers to the promotion of products or services through personalities on social media. While influencer marketing is still a relatively new way to communicate to consumers, its significance is notable across industries. The number of sponsored posts nearly tripled from 2018-19. Influencers also have a better understanding of their own value in the market. The average cost per post across social media platforms has increased as pricing standards are set and influencers enlist agencies to support their business interests and join collectives to substantiate their clout.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Poelking, a leading analyst in the Media sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

As the influencer market matures, brands have taken them more seriously as a tool for promotion and collaboration. Trust and authenticity go a long way in establishing relationships between influencers and followers, and brands need to take their time to find the right influencer to disseminate their messages. John Poelking
Media Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Market overview
          • Figure 1: Share of influencer followers, 2019 and 2020
        • Top takeaways
          • Key trends
            • Followers refining their feeds
              • Figure 2: Number of influencer categories followed, 2019 vs 2020
            • Engagement comes from reading, watching, listening – but mostly pictures
              • Figure 3: Viewing social media content, December 2019
            • Influencers are the brand
              • Figure 4: Influencer and social media purchase behaviors, December 2019
            • Anyone can be an influencer
              • Figure 5: Self-identifying as influencers, by gender and age, December 2019
            • Cancel culture is real
              • Figure 6: Cancel culture and openness on the internet, December 2019
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • The value of influencers increases
                • The pool of influencer followers is expanding
                  • The dark and light sides of social media
                  • Influencer Marketing Overview

                    • FTC demands disclosures of influencer partnerships
                      • Sponsored posts rise exponentially
                        • Figure 7: Number of sponsored posts, 2016-19
                      • Fewer followers get greater volume of posts
                        • Figure 8: Share of sponsored Instagram posts, by influencer tier, 2019
                      • Cost per post is going up across platforms
                        • Figure 9: Average cost per post, by platform, 2016-19
                    • Size of Influencer Followers

                      • Share of influencer followers is growing
                        • Figure 10: Share of influencer followers, 2019 and 2020
                      • Fewer total categories followed shows narrowing interests
                        • Figure 11: Number of influencer categories followed, 2019 vs 2020
                    • Market Perspective

                      • Digital advertising spend continues to grow
                        • Consumers think social media companies are bad for society
                          • Consumers express themselves visually
                          • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                            • Collections of influencers demand attention
                              • Sifting through garbage to get to the gold
                                • New platforms and personalities in the digital world
                                • Positive Influences

                                  • Collectives, clans and cashing in from incubating influencers
                                    • Figure 12: @theyhypehousela Instagram post, January 2020
                                  • Empowering people through education and advocacy
                                    • Figure 13: @bee_nfluencer Valentine’s Day Instagram post, February 2020
                                  • Brand ambassadors replacing paid posters
                                    • Figure 14: @glamouraspirit_ Casper Instagram post, May 2019
                                  • Playing matchmaker between influencer and brand
                                    • Creating communities for brands
                                    • Negative Influences

                                      • SponCons and fake measurement marketplaces
                                        • Treating influencers like a joke
                                          • Ignoring harmful scandals
                                            • Insensitivities lead to backlash
                                              • Figure 15: @stylemesunday Aldi Instagram post, January 2020
                                          • What to Watch

                                            • The impact of TikTok
                                              • The platform
                                                • The importance of music
                                                  • The opportunities
                                                    • The ethics of virtual influencers
                                                      • Figure 16: @lilmiquela Samsung Instagram post, January 2020
                                                    • Legitimizing influencer culture through accolades
                                                      • Using AR to create new brand experiences
                                                        • Figure 17: @madzpayne Pepsi Instagram post, May 2019
                                                      • Influencers appear in other advertising mediums
                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                        • Entertainment reaches more people than education
                                                          • Celebrity goes a long way
                                                            • Visual posts create the most engagement
                                                              • Authenticity doesn’t necessarily mean being different
                                                                • Cancel culture is alive and active
                                                                  • Social media as a marketplace
                                                                    • Trust and connection to influencers on the rise
                                                                      • Branching out and taking a stand are important to followers
                                                                        • Influencer follower segmentation highlights opportunities
                                                                        • Categories Followed

                                                                          • Entertainment leads the pack, but interest by category drops
                                                                            • Categories that entertain dominate
                                                                              • Aspirational categories get people to learn
                                                                                • Biggest decreases in overloaded categories
                                                                                  • Figure 18: Influencer categories followed, 2019 vs 2020
                                                                                • Women want to learn
                                                                                  • Figure 19: Influencer categories followed, by gender, December 2019
                                                                                • Young adults want entertainment, older want information
                                                                                  • Figure 20: Influencer categories followed, by age, December 2019
                                                                                • Platforms for education and inspiration
                                                                                  • Figure 21: Influencer categories followed, by daily users of social media platforms, December 2019
                                                                              • Personalities Followed

                                                                                • Visibility makes celebrities, brands important accounts to follow
                                                                                  • The importance of celebrity
                                                                                    • Reality stars lie between celebrity and citizen
                                                                                      • Dip in share across personality types
                                                                                        • Figure 22: Influencer personalities followed, December 2020
                                                                                      • Women seek out larger than life people
                                                                                        • Figure 23: Influencer personalities followed, by gender, December 2020
                                                                                      • Young generations drive interest in big personalities
                                                                                        • Figure 24: Influencer personalities followed, by generation, December 2020
                                                                                    • Interacting with Influencers

                                                                                      • Visual components are essential to social media content
                                                                                        • Figure 25: Viewing social media content, December 2019
                                                                                      • Three quarters of women look to visual posts
                                                                                        • Figure 26: Viewing social media content, by gender, December 2019
                                                                                      • Likes are social currency
                                                                                        • Figure 27: Interacting with social media content, December 2019
                                                                                      • Aspirational accounts get more interaction
                                                                                        • Figure 28: Interacting with social media content, by type of category followed, December 2019
                                                                                      • Cross-platform interactions with influencers can be important
                                                                                        • Figure 29: Cross-platform influencer interactions, December 2019
                                                                                      • Experts and internet personalities constantly create content
                                                                                        • Figure 30: Cross-platform influencer interactions, by type of personality followed, December 2019
                                                                                    • Important Influencer Attributes

                                                                                      • Emotion beats adventure when evaluating influencers
                                                                                        • Figure 31: Importance of entertaining attributes in influencers, December 2019
                                                                                      • Authenticity matters more than being unique
                                                                                        • Figure 32: Importance of authenticity in influencers, December 2019
                                                                                      • Inspiration doesn’t mean aspiration
                                                                                        • Figure 33: Importance of inspiration and expertise in influencers, December 2019
                                                                                      • Authenticity and emotional impact are the perfect cocktail
                                                                                        • Figure 34: TURF analysis – influencer attributes, December 2019
                                                                                      • Platforms where influencers can speak out
                                                                                        • Figure 35: The importance of standing out, by daily users of social media platforms, December 2019
                                                                                      • Reality TV stars sell a lifestyle
                                                                                        • Figure 36: Importance of speaking out in influencers, all vs reality TV personality followers, December 2019
                                                                                    • Cancel Culture and Anti-Influencers

                                                                                      • People are ready to “cancel” accounts
                                                                                          • Figure 37: Cancel culture and openness on the internet, December 2019
                                                                                        • Women are ready to ditch accounts, men feel they have nothing to hide
                                                                                          • Figure 38: Cancel culture and openness on the internet, by gender, December 2019
                                                                                        • Followers appreciate some self-deprecation
                                                                                          • Figure 39: @cvtsoftserve anti-influencer Instagram post, July 2019
                                                                                          • Figure 40: Attitudes toward anti-influencer movements, December 2019
                                                                                      • Purchasing from Social Media and Influencers

                                                                                        • Brands have a place on social media
                                                                                          • Figure 41: Attitudes about brand and product presence on social media, December 2019
                                                                                        • Converting posts to purchases
                                                                                          • Figure 42: Influencer and social media purchase behaviors, December 2019
                                                                                        • Case studies: Influencers turned entrepreneurs
                                                                                          • Figure 43: @helenowen swimsuit line announcement Instagram post, November 2019
                                                                                          • Figure 44: @avokween product launch Instagram post, January 2020
                                                                                        • Parents are ready to purchase
                                                                                          • Figure 45: Influencer and social media purchase behaviors, by parental status, December 2019
                                                                                        • Inspirational categories lead to purchases
                                                                                          • Figure 46: Influencer and social media purchase behaviors, by type of category followed, December 2019
                                                                                        • Experts, reality stars cover both ends of purchasing spectrum
                                                                                          • Figure 47: Influencer and social media purchase behaviors, by type of personality followed, December 2019
                                                                                      • Trust and Connection to Influencers

                                                                                        • More followers trust influencers
                                                                                          • Figure 48: Trust and connection to influencers, 2019 vs 2020
                                                                                        • Content creator platforms impact trust and connection
                                                                                          • Figure 49: Trust and connection to influencers, by daily users of social media platforms, December 2019
                                                                                        • One third of followers consider themselves to be influencers
                                                                                          • Large share of self-described influencers encourages content creation
                                                                                            • Young men drive self-identification as influencers
                                                                                              • Figure 50: Self-identifying as influencers, by gender and age, December 2019
                                                                                            • Reality TV star followers more likely to trust
                                                                                              • Figure 51: Trust and connection to influencers, all vs reality TV personality followers, December 2019
                                                                                          • Attitudes toward Influencers

                                                                                            • Followers want influencers to branch out
                                                                                              • Figure 52: Influencers and extending influence across platforms, December 2019
                                                                                            • Influencers should take a stand
                                                                                              • Figure 53: Taking a stand and oversharing information, December 2019
                                                                                          • Influencer Follower Segmentation

                                                                                              • Factors
                                                                                                • Figure 54: Influencer follower segmentation, December 2019
                                                                                              • Comfortable Connectors (39%)
                                                                                                • Demographics
                                                                                                  • Characteristics
                                                                                                    • Opportunities
                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Consumer segmentation – Comfortable Connectors, by demographics, December 2019
                                                                                                    • Social Skeptics (32%)
                                                                                                      • Demographics
                                                                                                        • Characteristics
                                                                                                          • Opportunities
                                                                                                            • Figure 56: Consumer segmentation – Social Skeptics, by demographics, December 2019
                                                                                                          • Faithful Followers (29%)
                                                                                                            • Demographics
                                                                                                              • Characteristics
                                                                                                                • Opportunities
                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Consumer segmentation – Faithful Followers, by demographics, December 2019
                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                • Data sources
                                                                                                                  • Sales data
                                                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                          • Terms
                                                                                                                          • Appendix – TURF Analysis

                                                                                                                            • Methodology
                                                                                                                              • Figure 58: TURF analysis – influencer attributes, December 2019

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