NEW YORK: Working with a wide variety of influencers is essential in helping Beats by Dre, the electronics brand owned by Apple, to ensure that it moves "at the speed of culture".

Omar Johnson, the chief marketing officer at Beats, discussed this subject at Advertising Age's Digital Conference 2015 in New York.

"Culture for us is sports; it is music; it is fashion; it is art; it is entertainment," he said. (For more, including details of how Beats approaches creative, read Warc's exclusive report: Influencers trump consumer research for Beats by Dre.)

"And given our target audience - which is about 16-24[-years-old] - that's the culture they care about; that's what they're passionate about."

Beats is well-known for working with big names like basketball star LeBron James and singer Nicki Minaj, but it also regularly taps up-and-coming stars. And such affiliations often go much deeper than marketing alone.

"We don't do much consumer research," Johnson said. "We spend a lot of time with what we call 'influencers'. And influencers, to us, are people who are super-engaged with our brand.

"They are junior athletes; they are artists; they are bloggers. They come from all walks of life ... And we find ways to engage them and listen to them."

Such listening demonstrates how its partnerships go further than with more traditional types of brand ambassador, as it means that Beats can secure invaluable feedback on its products from this group.

"[They] tell us: here's what they're missing in the product; here's what they wish the product could do; here's how they wish we would market; here's what they wish we would say in our marketing messages; here's what they don't like in other brands," said Johnson. "And we tend to listen to it all," he added.

This process, Johnson reported, is relatively unstructured, but does allow the brand to check for repeated suggestions coming up among its influencers.

"It's a pretty organic process. It's very egalitarian. There are no levels of feedback. We just take it all in," he said.

"And I think as we've done that, you actually hear a lot of the same things. So it doesn't seem as chaotic as when as it may appear when I say it."

Data sourced from Warc