The Container Store is betting that seeing others tackle organization projects in their homes will likely make you want to do the same — all while using their products to do so, of course.
That’s the thinking behind the company’s influencer marketing strategy, as well as its five-year-running brand ambassador program in which The Container Store taps creators with 10,000 to 50,000 followers on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube to be brand ambassadors for a year.
“It’s an always-on program,” said Melissa Collins, The Container Store’s CMO. “We started with 10 professional organizers. Over the years, we’ve grown the program to have 20-25 brand ambassadors a year working with organizers or lifestyle influencers.”
The company believes that working with creators who have a smaller following but an engaged audience will help The Container Store get in front of more consumers while also helping influencers boost their following, Collins explained, adding that the brand will put paid media behind its brand ambassadors’ content throughout the partnerships. At the same time, working with influencers over the course of a year gives The Container Store more variety in its content, as “not all brand ambassadors will take the same space and execute it in the same way,” said Collins.
It’s unclear how much of the company’s media budget is dedicated to its brand ambassador program or its overall influencer marketing strategy, as Collins declined to share specific figures or percentages. Per Kantar, The Container Store spent $8 million on advertising during the first six months of 2022 and $11.9 million on advertising for all of 2021. Those figures do not include spending on social media, however, as Kantar doesn’t track spending on social channels.
The Container Store’s brand ambassador program, whose current roster of ambassadors will work with the brand from June 2022 to March 2023, is run as an open call, giving influencers the opportunity to apply to be considered to join. The company’s in-house marketing team selects the brand ambassadors. This year, The Container Store received roughly 2,500 applicants for the program, up nearly three times from the year prior.
The brand ambassadors tend to work on various projects throughout the year using The Container Store’s products and showcasing them on their channels. “Lifestyle influencers and professional organizers are eager to continue to show projects,” said Collins, adding that they “want to tackle storage and organization. They can keep the drumbeat going for 12 months for us.”
The Container Store isn’t alone in eyeing influencers. Per Digiday+ Research, nearly three-quarters of brands (72%) said they spend at least a small portion of their marketing budgets on influencers and 59% of brands said they are at least somewhat confident that influencers drive marketing success.
Working with influencers through a brand ambassador program is a sensible strategy, according to Danielle Wiley, founder of influencer marketing shop Sway Group.
“In general, we love brand ambassadorships,” said Wiley. “We see having some ambassadors in the mix can be hugely successful for a number of reasons. They can tell stories throughout the year. In times of inflation, it can make sense from the influencer side to know about income coming in. From the brand side, lock in influencers for a certain rate. It lets influencers get to know the brand better.”
Aside from the brand ambassador program, The Container Store also works with larger influencers throughout the year who have 500,000 or more followers.
Wiley did question the financial arrangement for the influencers detailed on The Container Store’s website, as the brand touts affiliate commission and exposure as well as free products and gift cards in exchange for full usage of the content created. Wiley noted that, in recent years, influencers have worked to negotiate more with brands for usage rights for their content.
In addition to influencers, The Container Store is also eyeing TikTok and streaming, as well as “looking closely at all of our spends, making sure channels are performing,” amid the economic downturn, Collins said.
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