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Nordstrom Shifts Influencer-Marketing Strategy Away From Commissions

  • Nordstrom’s annual Anniversary Sale push has been a gold standard for influencer campaigns.
  • Some influencers even reportedly made most of their annual earnings on commissions from the event.
  • But the company is now adjusting its influencer spending more towards flat fees.

Nordstrom was an early adopter of influencer marketing, particularly among large corporations.

Its annual Anniversary Sale (or what’s casually referred to as “NSale”) has, until recently, been dubbed the “Super Bowl of swipe-ups” on Instagram. Every year, social media followers eagerly anticipate the event to get the scoop on the latest sales, and Adweek reported that some influencers even make the bulk of their earnings from it.

This year, however, the company seems to be adjusting its strategy and spending around fashion Instagram marketing. A Nordstrom spokesperson told Insider that it would focus more on “awareness-driving” campaigns than the commission-based deals it’s known for. In essence, the company will invest more in promotional campaigns for a flat fee than in partnerships in which an influencer gets a cut of sales they drive.

“We are expanding the ways in which we work with creators across all areas of our business and looking to invest more in awareness-driving tactics than we have in years past, which is generally more flat-fee focused than commission rate focused,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Nordstrom is also investing in new kinds of influencers on apps beyond Instagram.

“We approached this year’s strategy with a focus on 1) strengthening our relationships with some of our closest creative partners by increasing our investment in paid sponsorships,” the spokesperson added. “And 2) working with creators that reach and represent new or prospective customers, which includes diversifying our creator content mix and platforms.”

The recent controversy and how Nordstrom’s strategy is changing — which is prompting some fashion Instagrammers to move away

Last month, during the 2022 NSale event, reports flared that the company had cut influencers’ commission rates this year. Business of Fashion reported that Nordstrom’s rate on LTK, a popular commerce platform, had been cut to 3.5% from 7% last year.

Some influencers even started publicly speaking out about the issue on their own Instagram accounts. Insider contacted multiple users who made those public claims, but they declined to speak on the record.

A spokesperson for LTK disputed Business of Fashion’s figures, but would not provide any numbers on the record.

“We are continuing to see an increase in investment from brands on influencer marketing,” the LTK spokesperson said. “This year represents the largest investment for nearly all brands on LTK, including Nordstrom. In Q2 alone, we saw a more than 50% year-over-year increase in spend with LTK Creators from brands.”

When asked about the issue by Insider last month, a Nordstrom spokesperson declined to specify the rates, but said, “Anniversary Sale commission rates have decreased slightly this year, even as our overall investment in influencers is increasing.”

Influencers have been integral to the success of not only NSale, but the brand as a whole. Nordstrom has historically used its network of online personalities to send all kinds of messages to its customers. Last year, it invited influencers to come into its physical stores to document and share their new COVID-safe shopping features.

The shift away from commissions could mean that Instagrammers dependent on this income may need to look elsewhere, or to a different type of influencer deal from Nordstrom.

“It’s important to note that Nordstrom continues to invest in influencers,” the Nordstrom rep said. “In fact, we have increased our spend with influencers overall, and they remain an important part of our strategy.”

And even before this year, some influencers had become tired of the NSale event, and had naturally started moving away. Last year, some influencers told BuzzFeed News they’d seen diminishing returns over time, citing a feeling of oversaturation.

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