How Influencer/Celebrity Businesses Operate & Often Fail

In a world where social media reigns supreme, the rise of influencer-run businesses has been nothing short of meteoric. Often spearheaded by high-profile individuals, these ventures have become multi-billion dollar industries.

But beneath the glitz and glamour lies a complex reality: while these businesses can skyrocket to success, they often present a risky investment for everyone involved, including the influencers.

The Power of Celebrity Influence

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Celebrities like Ryan Reynolds have demonstrated the immense power of their influence in business. Reynolds’ involvement in Aviation Gin is a prime example.

By leveraging his star power, he was able to skyrocket the brand’s sales, proving that a dedicated influencer-led marketing campaign can be incredibly effective. However, this success story is more of an exception than the rule in the influencer business landscape.

Liquor Market & Influencer Impact

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Image Credit: Daniel Muresan/Shutterstock.

The liquor industry, known for its loyalty to established brands, presents a formidable challenge for influencer-run ventures. Yet, Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin defied the odds, achieving a staggering 540% increase in sales and showcasing the potential of influencer marketing in a traditionally stagnant market.

Holding a significant stake in the company, Reynolds leveraged his storytelling prowess and universal appeal to transform Aviation Gin into a success story, culminating in a lucrative $610 million sale.

This feat, however, underscores the rarity of such triumphs in the liquor industry, where market resistance and the dominance of legacy brands often stifle the success of new entrants, making Reynolds’ achievement ¹ an exceptional case in the challenging landscape of influencer-run businesses.

Risks of Influencer Dependency

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Influencer-run businesses are inherently tied to the personal brand and reputation of the influencer, a dependency that poses significant risks. The partnership between Adidas and Kanye West’s Yeezy brand ² exemplifies this vulnerability.

Following West’s controversial remarks, Adidas faced a projected short-term negative impact of up to $246 million on its 2022 net income. While the decision to sever ties with West spurred increased brand discussions and consumer willingness to purchase in the US, it simultaneously led to a decline in Adidas’ reputation scores in the UK.

This case underscores the precarious nature of influencer-run businesses, where the influencer’s public image is a linchpin for the business’s success or failure.

The Problem of Market Saturation

In influencer marketing, the saturation of personal brands, especially in niches like cosmetics and fashion, has led to a market cluttered with choices. The proliferation of influencers across various tiers has made it challenging for companies to select impactful personalities.

The market’s over-saturation ³ has diluted the uniqueness of influencer brands, compelling consumers to seek authenticity and genuine connections. This shift has prompted brands to pivot towards micro and nano influencers, who tend to have more engaged and loyal followers, offering a more authentic and effective marketing approach in an overcrowded space.

Quality Concerns & Perception Issues

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Influencer-run businesses often face challenges in maintaining the perceived quality of their products. The market has seen instances where influencer-backed products fall short compared to established brands, leading to consumer skepticism ⁴.

This discrepancy in quality perception can erode consumer trust, driving them towards traditional brands known for their consistent quality and reliability.

The intricate relationship between influencer credibility and brand perception emphasizes the need for influencer-run businesses to focus not just on marketing but also on the intrinsic value and quality of their products to sustain consumer trust and loyalty.

A Balancing Act

Influencer-run businesses are a fascinating phenomenon in the modern business landscape. They offer a unique blend of celebrity glamour and entrepreneurial spirit. However, their challenges – from market saturation and dependency on the influencer’s image to quality concerns – make them a risky venture.

For influencers, fans, and investors alike, these businesses are a high-stakes game that requires careful navigation to avoid the pitfalls of the territory. As the influencer economy continues to evolve, how these ventures will adapt and thrive in an ever-changing market remains to be seen.


Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.