It's easy to be condescending about a market dominated by shaking rears that can attract more media coverage than statements by political or religious elites. The rise of influencers has left many non-social-media natives confused about the seemingly trivial nature of their success. Trivial they may be. But you'd be wrong to dismiss their power.
Influencers aren't messing about. Growing out of the beauty and fashion industry blogospheres from Tumblr in 2007, influencers are thriving as successful business owners too. The $2bn Kardashian family are clearly industry forerunners. But Chinese celebrity influencers are becoming key business drivers for local businesses. And if you want your sort-of-shady crypto venture to succeed, you better hire a football player to front it.
But Jimmy Donaldson, better known by his YouTube moniker MrBeast, could be a better example. Without famous parents, sizzling sex tapes or outsized sports talent, MrBeast has nevertheless converted his social media popularity into a successful commercial endeavour. This was led by the launch of his online delivery restaurant, MrBeast Burgers in late 2020.
In a world of failing delivery apps and plummeting hospitality revenues, MrBeast Burger now has around 300 locations available and sold its one-millionth customer after just three months and opened its first permanent physical store in September 2022. And that's with mediocre burgers - and no old-world support or legacy sponsor in sight.
All in all, it's a prime example of how a single influencer's patronage can make a business launch successful. In this case an influencer whose popularity was entirely grown within social media, while remaining an obscure figure to traditional commercial and media observers.
Influencers being commercially successful is hardly breaking news. But the point is this phenomenon ain't some footnote in our current economic makeup.
By focusing on the glitzy and obvious celebrity influencers, industry watchers are ...
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