Marielys Pagan

How Social Media Influencers Are
Shaping Home Furnishing Trends

Influencer marketing is one of today's most impactful strategies and, while it's typically associated with fashion, fitness, beauty, and travel, it transcends a far wider range of topics and industries. Home furnishings and interior design, in particular, present a myriad of influencer opportunities, many of which resemble their counterparts in the influencer-dominant world of fashion. Influencers shape the current discourse not only on which styles are trendy, but also, on the power of interior design to showcase our personality and even improve our wellbeing.

Speaking to AD PRO about the expanding role of social media in interior design, American Influencer Council chair Patrick Janelle explains, The influencer space has never been stronger. Janelle adds that influencers have democratized the industry. Consumers are turning to creators to find ethical, eco-friendly, and diverse brands. What's more, Janelle believes that this is a great opportunity for brands to expand their digital footprint and to be reaching new audiences.

As the home furnishings industry makes greater use of influencers, it's becoming increasingly clear that this approach cannot be careless or haphazard. Influencers hold great promise, but only when they truly align with brands' core values and vision. We reveal how to accomplish this below while also sharing examples of impactful influencers and the brands they promote.

What Do Influencers
Have to Offer?

Across numerous industries, influencers are appreciated for their in-depth insight, their unique perspectives, and their genuine relationships with their followers. They provide the connection that consumers desire — something that Janelle believes is extra important now that so many people are isolated from [their] social circles. He adds that, in their quest for connection, users turn to social media not only for news and entertainment, but also, for helpful life hacks.

This is where interior design and home furnishings content comes into play. When consumers feel stressed or overwhelmed, they crave not only a human touch, but also, the opportunity to exert control over some tangible aspect of their lives — the aesthetics, function, and flow of their homes or apartments. Influencers promise to help them accomplish just that, no matter their budget, their expertise, or their preferred style. Offering curated content that feels as if it speaks directly to consumers, influencers provide a compelling alternative to traditional advertising.

From the brand's perspective, influencers are ideal because they are, generally speaking, easy and enjoyable to work with. They bring fresh ideas to the table while helping companies connect with a broader (or, when desired, more targeted) consumer base. This can also be a highly cost-effective approach to marketing, as the often exorbitant cost of production is built into influencers' fees. Advocates believe that these campaigns produce higher engagement than traditional content (especially when micro-influencers are involved) so the return on investment can be considerable.

Success Stories

While influencer marketing is just beginning to take off in the home furnishings industry, there are already several success stories that reveal what brands can accomplish when they collaborate with the right influencers. Below, we've highlighted a few of the most impactful influencers and campaigns. These examples demonstrate the importance of selecting influencers who align with brand messaging and styles.

This House 5000

Toronto-based home decor enthusiast Elena Lohse is passionate about intentional design and sustainable decor. Through This House 5000, she reveals how gratifying it can be to take part in fixer-upper projects. She has built an impressive following with her simple, yet comforting content, which reveals her love of Scandi vibes and old-world charm. Recently, she has collaborated with a variety of brands while creating content that still feels true to her personality and aesthetic. From IKEA to Behr and even Nespresso, her far-reaching partnerships reveal the versatility of today's home design influencers.

While Lohse's Instagram content is stunning, she really shines in her blog, which has a friendly voice that speaks to DIY novices. Perhaps most notable was her nursery project involving Crate & Barrel's Crate & Kids line. Lohse outlined the steps she took to create the ultimate nursery makeover while revealing how followers could easily complete similar projects.

As Told By Michelle

Light shades of pink and green ensure that the Instagram posts from As Told By Michelle always feel cheerful. The force behind this page is Michelle Hsu, who has worked extensively with TJ Maxx and Bed, Bath, and Beyond — partnerships that convey her emphasis on light-hearted content and design projects. Her reels are among the most memorable in the home design space, revealing how the smallest, most drab spaces can become magic after making a few simple changes.

Hsu's natural touch is easily seen in her sponsored post on behalf of the retail chain JCPenney. Although clearly marked as an ad, her post didn't feel overly promotional. She simply provides easy tips that followers can easily adopt to make their own spaces feel more whimsical.

Athena Calderone

As the force behind the lifestyle site EyeSwoon, Athena Calderone is committed to bringing artful objects to everyday spaces, where they can be used and displayed with pride. This ethos remains front and center in her collaboration with Crate & Barrel, where she has developed her own collection.

These refined, neutral-dominant pieces promise to elevate everyday routines, but what's notable about them is not only their contemporary appearance, but also, how they are highlighted on social media. Simple videos (such as a clip of the pinch me moment in which Calderone first saw her furniture on display in the Crate & Barrel SoHo store) convey warmth and, as one commenter explains, reflect [Calderone's] true heart.

Interestingly, Calderone's personal Instagram account does not emphasize her collaborations, but rather, provides a glimpse into her creative process. On her EyeSwoon account, however, she pays homage to Crate & Barrel and comes across not as a casual promoter, but rather, as genuinely passionate about the brand, crediting it with having been the catalyst to set [her] career ablaze.

West Elm

Featuring a strong cast of influencers, West Elm's creator program sets the stage for a new era in home design marketing. Known as the West Elm Collective, this program is built on numerous tastemakers and insiders, such as cooking show host Carla Lalli Music and Queen of Sparkle Susan Alexandra. West Elm's insiders curate their own shops that include a variety of product recommendations. Many are proud to display West Elm pieces within their own homes.

These collaborations allow insiders to maintain their own distinct personalities while also conveying how this aligns with the West Elm ethos: an emphasis on elevated, contemporary styles and sustainable strategies. In an early announcement for the program, West Elm shared its intention to underscore how even though we’re all apart, [the brand] fostering unity among its most loyal brand partners and honoring their symbiotic relationship.

Ethical Concerns

Influencer marketing provides a wealth of exciting opportunities, but with a major caveat: there are several unique ethical considerations involved and, if not addressed, they can make this strategy downright risky. As Forbes Council member Michael Kuzminov points out, there are significant concerns over the morality of influencer marketing, such as the risk of misleading users or promoting harmful stereotypes. What's more, legal concerns can enter these ethical dilemmas. We've highlighted a few of the most noteworthy issues below:

Authenticity Is Not Guaranteed

The success of influencer marketing relies on a solid foundation of trust. Followers want to feel confident that their favorite influencers promote products that reflect their shared values and vision. Unfortunately, not all brands and influencers live up to this ideal and, when they fall short, the effects can be far-reaching. From the brand's perspective, this can cause great reputational damage, which can be difficult to overcome.

Given these concerns, it is incredibly important that brands vet prospective influencers thoroughly. A strong following, although helpful, does not guarantee a quality collaboration. Rather, the focus should be on how (or whether) influencers align with the brands they hope to promote — and whether their unique qualities allow them to engage authentically with their own followers.

Ideally, influencers will possess a deep-seated and highly genuine connection with the brands they promote. Keep in mind that many are not in the influencer business for profit alone — they are most attracted to brands they feel will make a positive difference.

Disclosing Sponsored Content

Sponsorship disclosure is also essential. Followers generally don't mind if their favorite influencers promote products or services, but they want to be informed of these efforts, rather than feeling tricked. At this point, disclosure is not only a question of ethical conduct, but also, a legal requirement: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains strict rules regarding sponsorship disclosures, which are essential when a brand relationship (especially of a financial nature) has been established. Disclosures must feature simple and clear language — and they should be placed so that they are difficult to miss.

Environmental Concerns

A furniture equivalent to fast fashion has emerged in recent years. Skeptics fear that this approach could produce a recklessly fast churn of trends, which, in turn, may prompt environmental damage and considerable waste. Influencer marketing can play into this, as the role of the influencer is often to enlighten consumers on what's trendy, rather than to emphasize which pieces will stand the test of time.

The solution, again, is to emphasize authenticity. This means being open and honest about sustainability initiatives — and working with influencers who are also passionate about green design. This could be an exciting area of opportunity for today's subscription providers, which offer the appeal of experimenting with innovative designs — but the opportunity to do so in an eco-friendly manner.

Fernish — a top subscription company — is currently experimenting with influencer strategies, in hopes of reach[ing] people who are going through transitions, such as a breakup or a new job. Sustainable, custom-made furniture company Inside Weather promises something similar, complete with a strong presence on TikTok and collaborations with designers such as Raven Daria.

Embrace the Power of Influencer Marketing

Influencers have an exciting role to play in the home furnishings industry of tomorrow. Through passion and authenticity, they have the power to expand the marketing footprint for a variety of businesses, which may otherwise strive to capture customer interest in a crowded market. With careful vetting and a clear vision, aligned brands and influencers can transform how consumers learn about, search for, and purchase furniture.

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