Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
Valued at just over $100 billion, today’s creator economy consists of innovators who make a living off platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. By the end of 2021, YouTube alone had paid out $30 billion to creators over the past three years.
The question becomes, why is such an attachment to social media so profitable?
The shift from office to work-from-home allowed aspiring creators and entrepreneurs to find a balance between what they were passionate about and what they thought could serve as an alternative source of income. This led to a transformation from the “attention” economy, which depended upon algorithms and attention spans to the “creator” economy, which focuses on framing a brand in such a light that attracts more intimate engagement with a community.
As the creator economy continues to grow in size and valuation, we are starting to see industry visionaries take the reins in empowering, inspiring and innovating consumers to be bold, secure and creative in their own digital journeys so that nobody is “left behind” in our evolving digital frontier. How? By lending their support to luxury and products that help bridge that gap between and among Hollywood, consumers and beauty. Here are the top trends I’m seeing take shape:
1. Bridging the Gap Between the Hollywood and Consumer Experiences
While the beauty industry has been resilient in the past, recent events paved the way for creators to find new avenues to showcase their creativity and beauty while in quarantine. Now, the byproducts of those avenues are finding their way into in-person interactions and engagements as a result of two years of experiencing isolating social distancing, gruesome lockdowns, devastating losses and financial strain.
Inevitably, consumers have grown comfortable being “too comfortable” from their couches and bedrooms, feeling a bit anxious as they reacclimate to in-person engagements. With live events returning, Hollywood is finding new ways to empower creators to feel confident and beautiful “on the go” — whether they are on the red carpet or walking down the streets of New York, with the help of portable photography and lighting equipment.
Back in November 2021, Steve Harvey and his daughter, Lori Harvey, announced their latest Black-owned business investment, adding MOON UltraLight to the Harvey Ventures portfolio. Co-founded by Edward Madongorere and Dishen “Dixon” Yang, MOON UltraLight is a portable lighting device that was named one of Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2020.” The company appeared on Ellen’s 12 Days of Giveaways in November 2021 as part of Ellen DeGeneres’ final season on-air.
We’re seeing a shift in the luxury items marketed toward the creator economy, with brands looking to empower consumers and creators to look their very best and feel comfortable and creative all at the same time.
2. Product Placement Keeps Our Favorite Brands Immortal
Product placement in today’s creator economy must be tastefully strategic, where even the slightest of misjudgments can forever empower or forever damage your professional brand.
Hollywood product placement executives like Lorenzo Rusin frequently weigh in on the importance of tasteful brand integration in today’s creator economy. Rusin, who for 25 years, has spent the majority of his career working with high-end luxury brands and strategically placing them into major studio films, including, but not limited to, Coming 2 America, The Irishman and Terminator: Dark Fate.
In recent years, Hollywood has emphasized the growing importance of product placement is in film franchises like James Bond, Mission Impossible and Top Gun. These placements by creators can be as simple as need be, but they need to be tasteful. Remember the Game of Thrones and coffee cup mishap? Due to the similarities of the cardboard coffee cups, Starbucks received inadvertent marketing and call-outs on social media.
3. Live-Engagement Is Timeless
We have seen the rise of apps like Cameo, Community and TrueFans that allow users to request video messages from celebrities. There are fewer avenues where fans can request specific items or experiences from that celebrity beyond the personalized shout-out.
Launched by CEO Carl Padilla in 2019, Celeb Gap is a celebrity-fan engagement platform that allows fans to request video game sessions and “participate in real-time experiences” with their favorite celebrities, including live streamers, gamers, reality stars, authors and motivational speakers. This will give fans the opportunity to connect with their favorite celebrities through a variety of digital offerings.
The future looks promising in serving as more brands step in as a hybrid bridge in the celebrity-fan engagement economy.
With 2022 underway, we can expect to see the luxury and creator economies continue to converge as household names are understanding the benefits of strategically aligning with certain creators to help expand brand integrity, utility and overall appeal. Indeed, consumers are developing a more sophisticated palette for what is considered to be stylish and valuable for their respective online communities.