A Year In Boots | High Street to Gen Z
Multi-Campaign Influencer Marketing Case Study.
Originally written for the client as a marketing tool and internal editorial exercise - examining the social performance from Boots' key influencer collaborations of 2019.
Introduction: Introducing the brand
Context of the Brand and Emerging Consumer Groups: How Boots’ fit into the wider marketing space and a closer look at the media habits of their target demographics.
The Six Campaigns: Each of our 2019 campaigns, broken down into results, creative vision and influencer selection.
Learnings: Key discoveries from our 2019 campaigns.
As a heritage brand, Boots’ unique presence within the health and beauty industry has been a staple part of British culture for generations. Their original store can be traced back to 1849 and few high streets are complete without them.
In 2019, Boots realigned their marketing plans to engage with the next generation of consumers with Whalar. Through six campaigns and 96 influencers spread across the year, we targeted specific cultural events, partnered with creators who challenged existing brand perceptions and worked across multiple platforms to deliver unprecedented results.
Directed by Emily Freda Sharp
2) Context | Influencers and Digital Consumers
A common misconception by advertisers is to mistake influencer marketing as a short term solution for brands. However, when done right, partnering with influencers can inform and drive digital strategy. Influencers provide direct product feedback, know their audience more intimately than any marketer and give brands an entirely new interpretation of a product or culture.
Boots is a household name in the UK. From a contemporary marketing perspective, their challenge lies less in generating brand awareness, and more so with combating brand fatigue. Particularly when engaging with digital-first consumers - Generation Z and Late Millennials - these groups crave intimate and authentic connection from marketers, more so than any generation before them. We’ve seen this from disruptive, direct to consumer models - such as Glossier or Dollar Shave Club - thriving in recent years. These successes can be pinned on a primary focus on digital-first business and has caused a shift within the beauty industry.
In Boots’ model, they offer a multitude of brands and cover an extensive variety of products that answer a wide breadth of consumer needs. Influencers allow Boots to effectively promote these varying product lines and brands by providing intimate and targeted channels of communication directly to their consumers, all united under the familiar Boots name.
Why Gen Z? Unlocking the ‘Digital Generation’
More than any generation before them, Generation Z (according to a study from American Express) are more than twice as likely to drop a brand due to their social media presence alone. This is of huge importance when considering that the average Generation Z consumer spends three hours a day on social media platforms, as found by Global Web Index.
For Boots, this is the new generation of audience they are tapping into; a generation that are interacting and engaging with social content more than any other media. To thrive as a go-to destination that encourages healthy living and positivity, having a bold and relevant influencer strategy is essential to connecting Boots with a new wave of consumers.
For us, that meant delivering six campaigns, each bespoke to Boots’ specific business targets and creative vision, across 2019.
Here’s how it unfolded.
3) Boots 2019 | 6 Topline Case Studies
January 2019 | Wellness
24 creators, reaching an audience of over 2.5 million. Distributed across Instagram via feed and story posts, garnering several hundreds of thousands of unique engagements from the target audience.
Following the launch of the “Little Boosts from Boots” campaign, Boots wanted to reinforce their position as a destination for health and wellbeing solutions for the new year. By targeting a larger demographic, 25-54, the aim was to promote an accessible and active lifestyle culture.
Playing to each influencer’s specialisms, we featured products across 9 major brands to illustrate Boots’ product versatility. Executed across 3 months, our Creators ranged from fitness fanatics and foodies to graphic designers and mums. Content needed to be positive, energetic and radiate a feeling of health and happiness, whilst naturally demonstrating how the product should be used.
Capitalising on the cultural relevance of January as a month to re-set, Boots aligned themselves with the trending habit of seeking healthy lifestyle inspiration from social media feeds. The strategic nature of the campaign resulted in several thousand product saves to reflect purchase intent, a bank of energetic and diverse assets, and kick-started Boots’ 2019 strategy as a brand focused on culture as well as product.
February / March 2019 | Student Discount
Combining one feed post and one story from each of our 20 student creators, we reached an audience of over 2 million and stimulated half a million conversations.
Engaging with students on social media requires careful influencer selection. As a marketer, you’re dealing with a demographic that has grown up with social media, meaning they can spot inauthenticity easily.
The aim was to work with creative student influencers who would raise awareness of Boots’ 10% student discount. The concept was to create a campaign that mimicked a ‘peer to peer’ marketing solution on a national scale.
By working with real-life students with strong creative capabilities, we were able to put trust within their digital fluency to deliver the results. Backed up by strong social performance and a portfolio of unique assets, our cost per engagement came in far below predictions. Alongside this, the campaign garnered thousands of product saves and swipe ups to further drive brand awareness.
Allowing each influencer to choose their own products to market fuelled strong and diverse results. As for the creative output, that speaks for itself...
June / July 2019 | Festival
Streamlined and curated influencer selection. 4 creators who distributed content across Instagram and Youtube. The bespoke campaign is a hallmark to how digital creativity is being translated into educational experiences.
With festival season approaching, we partnered with four distinct creators to showcase products across four different brands and reinforce Boots as a destination for all your festival essentials.
Festivals provide us with the ultimate stage to express ourselves freely. Using diverse talent was crucial to translating Boots’ ability to care for all beauty lovers. Youtube also provides an extra layer of depth from a platform naturally suited to longer content. Creators can delve deeper into their individual beauty process, with Boots remaining at the heart of the conversation.
July 2019 | Summer #LetsFeelGood
A campaign that generated immense digital conversation for its size. 16 creators who achieved just short of half a million story views and stimulating thousands of individual conversations within digital consumer groups.
Our Summer Boots campaign proved a turning point for the immense social performance alone. Under the headlines, #LetsFeelGood, we moved away from product endorsements, focusing instead on inspiring confidence and encouraging everyone to celebrate the beauty of differences.
A modest CPE, alongside engagements for both posts to feed and stories landing well above target. An undeniably positive association with Boots as a campaigner for body positivity was also reflected in over 6k interactions from post saves and story swipe ups. The diverse group of positive influencers captured Boots’ empowering message and prompted a 15% higher average engagement rate on stories. Particularly for Creators such as @chessieking, a large following who strongly resonate with her self-love message. In a single post, she generated just short of half a million views for her branded content.
October 2019 | Halloween
Stretching across IG feed, IGTV, AR Filters, Stories and Youtube, Halloween 2019 broke influencer norms. Partnering with 6 highly creative influencers, we employed a multi-platform publishing strategy to engage with a wide audience; including over half a million views on Instagram - from feed, story and IGTV posts.
IG AR Filters: Whalar’s in-house design team supported Boots in the creation of their own bespoke filter. Prompting each influencer to go live with an additional story - generating additional exposure by tapping into the fast growing feature currently on Instagram. This feature alone added over 100K interactions.
Under the theme ‘Get Your Freak On’, we wanted to capture highly creative looks that were bold and affordable.
Using a mix of young and parent influencers, we tackled multiple demographics in the same campaign. Although this campaign only used 6 Creators, the standard and sheer diversity of creative content across multiple platforms allowed the collaboration to feel far more powerful than its relatively modest roster size suggests. For Boots, it highlighted their dedication to championing highly expressive beauty across their diverse and ever-growing audience.
December 2019 | Christmas
Working alongside 25 creators, with a strong focus on generating swipe ups and engagements on stories. Reaching several hundred thousand from the target market, and stimulating hundreds of thousands of interactions on story content alone.
To close the year, Boots wanted to underpin their tailored marketing plan via a digital “Bootique” experience. The aim: To broaden public perception for the 2019 holiday season by highlighting their diverse range of premium brands and encouraging thoughtful gift buying.
The campaign allowed Boots to partner with any Creator who worked within their wide range of products - from fitness gurus to beauty lovers. The campaign gave the creators the freedom to form a personalised ad that was unique to them.
Speaking with Fitness Creator Flora Beverley, she underpinned how trusting briefs maximise the effectiveness of influencers.
“It was great to experience how Boots are doing more to personalise Christmas gifts with their Bootique concept - it allowed each and every follower who interacted with the ad to form something special and unique. This is a great step in influencer marketing, and I hope to see more content where the influencer is given agency to allow their personality to shine through like this - after all that is the beauty of influencer marketing!” - Flora Beverley (@foodfitnessflora).
Key themes across the six campaigns: Bespoke matchmaking and trust in the Creators to know their audience, and subsequently their market, better than anyone else.
Beauty in diversity. Engaging with dynamic consumers requires marketing that isn’t tied to a script. Specifically, the Gen Z demographic that Boots have been consistently engaging with over the past 12 months, they are spending more time than ever with mobile-first content and respond best to individual stories.
Influencer marketing has evolved from the age of product endorsements. It is now the time for brands to craft out their culture and deepen their message across multiple digital platforms. A long term strategy is essential for a brand looking to make their mark in the digital space.
For now, Boots are setting a standard for a brand that may not have been born in the digital age, but one that is undoubtedly living and breathing it.