Financial Data
Updated 06 Dec 2020

How retailers can use AI influencers as a marketing tactic

Influencer marketing across the Internet and on social media platforms isn’t new. But paired with artificial intelligence, it could be just what your customers have been waiting for.

24 June 2018  Share  0 comments  Print

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If your best social media strategy is buying ads that Instagram slips onto users’ photo feeds, you’re not reaching younger consumers who are proficient at ignoring your efforts. All it takes is a swipe and your ad’s gone. They can even choose to have it never appear on their feed again. Where does that leave you? 

That’s why you need to consider social media influencers – people who have influence over potential buyers, and a crucial component of influencer marketing. Before you start searching for the perfect influencer to represent your brand and entice your target market, consider Miquela Sousa. She has over a million Instagram followers – not bad for a CGI character.

“Finding the right influencers is the biggest hurdle that brands face today,”says Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, a platform that uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system to match brands with influencers.

Related: Is the smartphone making it more challenging to be a retailer?

Welcome to the world of the AI influencer, who only exists on social media and gets paid to ensure your profit. Here’s why you should consider incorporating this method of marketing into your mix:

1. You’re in (more) control 

Virtual influencers aren’t real people with quirks and qualms, so enlisting the services of Miquela or her counterpart Shudu Gram, could also mean greater control for your brand. Partnerships with AI influencers leaves less room for error, and you’re more likely to find an ideal representation of what your brand stands for – as well as a spokesperson with whom your audience is highly likely to identify. 

This control is elevated if you consider the fact that in the near future, many companies may begin building their own digital influencers, according to Adam Rivietz, co-founder and CSO of the influencer marketing company #paid. 

“This is simply because it’s a more efficient way of controlling the message that reaches their target audiences,” he says. “Human influencers, too, might begin embracing CGI alter egos to protect their relationships with their existing sponsors.”

2. Reach and engage with followers 

Shudu -Gram

Consumers, and human beings in general, seek authentic and natural relationships from interactions with influencers. The more they have in common with the influencer, the greater the connection your customers will have to them and your brand. 

For example, Prada used Miquela and Fenty Beauty chose Shudu to represent their respective products because their influence lies in their ability to create personal connections with each of their thousands of followers. “For influencer marketing to work, the connection needs to be authentic,” says Detert. “But you don’t need a human influencer to create authentic engagement.”

Related: How to make technology in retail work to your advantage

3. Reduce the risk of reputational damage

“The true power of influencer marketing stems from its ability to win over the hearts of consumers and shift perceptions of a brand to boost its affinity,” according to a study conducted by Nielsen and #paid. 

Today’s influencers are rich, famous, and somewhat relatable – that’s what sells. But a scandal can bring down your brand along with your celebrity influencer’s reputation. Human behaviour isn’t easy to control – even if you are paying them a lot of money to be the ideal ambassador. With an AI influencer, however, you’re able to remove the risk of bad press that you’re more likely to encounter when enlisting big-name brand influencers.


If your retail business is just now starting to discover the wonders of influencer marketing, consider turning to AI influencers. Big brands globally have hopped on the trend and reaped the rewards, so what are you waiting for?

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