For brands looking to sell physical products, product seeding, often referred to as influencer gifting, is one of the best ways to do so. It’s an easy and budget-friendly way to improve brand awareness through collaboration with creators and putting your products in front of interested people.
In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at what is product seeding, and how you can use it to grow and scale your brand.
What is product seeding (influencer gifting)
Product seeding and influencer gifting refer to the practice of brands gifting their products to a group of select influencers operating for promotional purposes. Often, these gifts are accompanied by custom discount codes they can share with their followers. The idea behind this is to give creators who work in a targeted niche a chance to experience your product. As a result, once they try and like your product, they can share it with their followers, helping you increase awareness and reach in a genuine way.
How to use product seeding
Product seeding can be used in a few different ways, depending on your marketing strategy. As the name suggests, it’ll be part of your influencer marketing strategy. You can choose to add it to your existing influencer cooperations, by forming influencer brand deals, if you have an established influencer marketing strategy and budget.
Alternatively, it can become the beginning of your influencer marketing efforts. If you are just starting your business, you can use influencer gifting to work with starting creators: many nano- and micro-influencers are willing and ready to cooperate with brands in exchange for products.
Benefits of product seeding
Influencer gifting has become one of the most beloved influencer marketing strategies among brands, and the main reason behind this success is efficiency. Influencer seeding and product gifting, when done correctly, can significantly help both starting and established brands. Here are some of the main benefits of product seeding:
- Cost efficiency – Product seeding has no upfront cost except for the price of the product which you already probably have. As a result, it’s an accessible and cost-effective strategy, especially for brands that are just starting and cannot afford to pay influencers lucrative fees. Offering them products instead is a great alternative.
- Increased brand awareness – Even a small mention by an influencer in your niche or an unboxing video can help you improve your brand awareness significantly, as it introduces your brand to its audience.
- More content – Another benefit of product seeding is that it helps you access a vast library of user-generated content. This can be significantly more effective with the newly-launched Instagram Collab post function.
How does product seeding work?
Identify Your Main Goals
Let’s start at the beginning, with the “Why?”. It’s important that you clearly define the aim of your campaign. Ask yourself why are you doing the influencer gifting and what is it that you are trying to achieve. This will be the starting point of your influencer seeding campaign. Once you know the answers, they will then guide your next steps.
The next step is finding the right influencers. Start by researching influencers in your segment. There are many amazing content creators working in various niches, whose audience will be aligned with yours. These are the people you want to send your products to. Invest the time to find them. Make a list of influencers on different platforms who look like they could use, love, and benefit from your products, and who create content that aligns with your values, and reaches out to them.
Choose a product
Once you’ve decided on the influencers you want to work with, you need to choose the products you’ll be sending to them. While this seems like something easy enough, for your efforts to succeed, you need to put thought into your product selection. Instead of sending the same product to all influencers, you want to analyze their content and their interests separately, and select customized and unique products to them that will match their aesthetics, and will fit into their content strategy.
Create an Influencer Box
Once you’ve chosen the products for each of the influencers, it’s time to assemble the so-called influencer box. As the name suggests, it’s a kit brands assemble to send to social media influencers to promote their product.
A successful influencer box consists of two main components: the products and the box itself. Just because the main focus is the product itself, doesn’t mean it should be put into a plain box, especially since many influencers like to record unboxing videos. Take time to design vibrant and beautiful boxes that match the aesthetics of your brand, and send your products in them. This may take a bit of time in the beginning, but it will pay off in the long term. The careful and personalized selection of the products, coupled with a vibrant and tasteful box design, and an impactful copy will result in an effective campaign.
It goes without saying that a successful influencer box will reflect your brand identity and your values. For example, if your product is natural and sustainable, your influencer box should be made from components that have a low negative impact on the environment. If you are into fashion and cosmetics, you might want more vibrant and colorful influencer boxes.
Send a gift
People love to receive gifts, it’s true. But it’s polite to ask them first. Contact the influencers you have selected, and ask them if they will be comfortable receiving a gift from you. Make sure to show them that you have no immediate expectations; give them time to test and fall in love with your product.
Get a content
Once they’ve received and tested your products, there is a high chance the influencers will create content about your brand, in the form of feed posts, reels, or stories. Once they do, make sure to engage with the content and promote it. Share them to the stories or (with their permission) to your feed. This way, you’ll showcase your new collaboration, and also help the influencer get more exposure.
The last step is the process of analyzing the results. Sometime after the campaign, take time to sit down and analyze the results of your campaign. Take a look at the available numbers such as engagement, audience growth, sales growth, and other pre-defined metrics. It’s possible that certain products were more fit for product seeding than others. Try to understand what worked and what didn’t, and use this information to adjust your next influencer gifting campaigns accordingly.
Influencer gifting examples
Now that you have a better idea of what product seeding and influencer gifting are, let’s take a look at a few examples of brands that have mastered them.
Lush is known for their fresh and all-natural handmade cosmetic products, including luxurious lines of bath products and skincare. Lush has been doing brand deals for quite some time now, and as soon as a new line launches, they mail products to influencers. Interestingly, the gifts are customized, and the influencers get gifts based on the products they’ve already used and loved.
This basket of yellow goodies, they’ve sent to Adelain Morin is a great example of a unique and perfect brand gifting, as yellow is her favorite color and is often present in her posts.
MyVegan is a brand of vegan protein powders, healthy snacks, superfoods & essential vitamins, and minerals helping to make the vegan diet accessible and affordable. As part of their influencer marketing strategy, they work with vegan influencers and healthy lifestyle creators. The company sends influencers different lines of products to taste and share feedback. Their cooperation with VeggieLucy is one of the more prolific ones, and she often does taste testing of new snacks and other products.
House of CB
House of CB is a women’s luxury fashion brand. The brand cooperates with influencers extensively and is known to send its new lines to select fashion creators before the line is available to the general public, thus building hype for the soon-to-launch collection.
Below is an example of their recent collaboration with Cheyenne Rowan.
GoPro needs no introduction. The company collaborates with travel and extreme sports creators to promote its product and the active lifestyle it encourages. The company gifts creators entire bundles of their products to try and share their expressions. Extreme skater Rob Worling is one of the most prominent members of the GoPro influencer family and regularly uses the company products to shoot videos of his activities.
If you are looking to scale your influencer marketing efforts, product seeding is one of the most effective and affordable ways to do so. By reaching out to the right influencers and partnering with them, you can put your brand in front of a new, potentially highly-interested audience through their favorite creators and little additional cost to yourself. Plus, it will allow you to start building relationships with content creators in your niche, which can, with time, result in more fruitful and long-term collaborations.