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How Ox Street taps on influencer partnerships to grow its consumer fanbase

(Source: Supplied.)

Influencer marketing has been on the rise in Southeast Asia due to many factors. 

The region has a growing population of young consumers who are used to researching and shopping online. Plus, around 482 million people in the region now use social media, which has emerged as the top channel for brand consideration and evaluation. Much of this growth has been driven by a new generation of digital-savvy young adults who have never known a world without the internet and the easy access to information it affords.

With that said, it’s no surprise how brands have begun to invest heavily in influencer marketing in order to reach their audience in a more authentic way. 

So, how are some of the leading and mature brands tapping into this opportunity to grow their business and consumer base?

Inside Retail Asia had the pleasure to interview Gijs Verheijke, Founder of Southeast Asia’s leading sneaker e-commerce brand, Ox Street, to learn more about its influencer partnerships strategy (yes partnerships, not marketing, and we’ll find out why), why tapping on technology is helpful and how their program has been key in driving growth for their business.

Inside Retail Asia: Hi Gijs, can you give us a background about Oxstreet, what’s your business about, who your target customer is, and what channels you’re currently using for customer acquisition?

Gijs: Ox Street brings trust and ease to buying and selling sneakers and fashion in the Apac region. We are focused on Gen Z, with 80 per cent of our audience being under 35 years old. Our customer acquisition stack relies on influencers and content for awareness, and on advertising and referrals for conversions to buyers.

You mentioned tapping on influencers – could you share why they’re important and how they play a part in your overall marketing and customer acquisition strategy? 

Our main reason to exist is to solve problems with counterfeit sneakers being sold as real. But in markets where our awareness is still low, people start off looking at every new player very suspiciously. So with influencers, our main goal is to drive trusted brand awareness. Influencers traditionally have already built relationships, trust and credibility with their own fans and audiences. So naturally, their fans will trust the content and the recommendations they put out. This benefits us when we partner with influencers to review our sneakers in an authentic way. Beyond driving brand awareness, in some cases, we do see influencers also helping us to drive conversions and that’s where we do foresee the potential in partnering with some of them on a performance basis.

You mentioned partnering influencers on a performance basis – influencer marketing has traditionally been known to fulfil top-funnel awareness and metrics. What are your thought on this? Do you think influencer partnerships can drive more business incrementality and performance?

What is difficult is that the results between influencers can vary so wildly. So you need to run it like a numbers game, and we have had some hits but also some very disappointing partnerships. We need to figure out how the dynamics really work, and which factors predict success. A lot of influencer marketing I feel is still kind of ‘spray-and-pray’. And there is this notion sometimes in marketing that I don’t really agree with, which is that when you’re doing top-funnel stuff, it’s ok if you don’t see any results. I feel that if you’re doing top-funnel and driving lots of awareness, you should see that almost immediately at least in an uptick of traffic or signups. So if you want to drive incremental business and performance through the influencer channel that takes a lot of experimentation. What I feel is the best, is if you can align yourself with your influencer partners, so they get a stake in the results. That’s where impact.com also comes in for us. Their platform has been very helpful in showing full transparency of how much each influencer is driving for us in terms of the agreed performance, so we know when we need to double down or pull back where necessary. And then we remunerate the influencer as agreed, accordingly after.

Ox Street sounds like it’s got a pretty mature influencer program running, would you mind sharing some key tips or best practices for recruiting, managing and scaling an influencer program?

Firstly, it’s important that you find the influencer whose audience and community is aligned to what your brand offers and wants to reach out to. An influencer who is also aligned in values and believes in your brand will show in the content that they put out for you. Currently, there’re many different groups of influencers now from celebrities to macro and micro-influencers – so depending on your business objectives of either achieving brand awareness or driving conversions, you may want to diversify the types of influencers you work with and incentivise them based on hybrid payment models. Having a management platform like impact.com is also key to recruiting and managing your influencers at scale as it’s important to have direct control and transparency of the value each influencer brings to your business. 

What’s next for Ox Street? What further opportunities do you see influence partnerships?

The main challenge for us now with the influencer channel is trying to scale it up further in an effective way. You either have to start working with much bigger influencers, or you have to find a way to work with very high numbers of small influencers. Both approaches have their challenges. We’re working on plans for both angles. With that said, I think influencer partnerships are here to stay especially in the Southeast Asia region due to the growing population of young consumers who are used to researching and shopping online. As long as brands have clear objectives on how they want to tap into influencer marketing, they can see results for their business.

This interview was brought to you by impact.com

If you’re looking to automate, manage and scale your influencer program, get in touch with us at grow@impact.com. Our dedicated Southeast Asia team is here to help.