PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, is boosting its spend on influencer marketing as it seeks to connect with consumers in relevant, authentic ways.

“We’re shifting more and more dollars into the digital-influencer space,” Chris Bellinger, vp/creative & digital at PepsiCo, said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How PepsiCo builds an influencer-marketing funnel.)

“We have some brands that are 100% digital,” he continued at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) first-annual Influencer Marketing Conference. “And, within that space, we have a very high influencer-marketing rate.”

One strategic guardrail outlined by Bellinger was to “know your role and know your consumer”, rather than trying to “force fit” a brand into an area of culture that it may not have a right to be involved in.

With some 30 brands and more than 1,100 products, “our biggest challenge is staying continually relevant with our audience and finding out our brands’ role. We then double down where we need to,” he told the ANA confab.

To ensure that it recruits the right voices, PepsiCo “pressure tests” its influencers. As Bellinger told the New York audience, “We don’t want to force an influencer to be inauthentic to who they are.”

Another imperative for the food and beverage giant is to “see the world through your consumers’ eyes,” he added. “We always start from the consumer first and then work our way backwards,” said Bellinger.

“And a lot of that is learning how to feed the beast within pop culture. Sometimes you can drive that narrative, and sometimes you have to ride that narrative.”

By listening, he proposed, “we’re really tapping into the consumers and understanding their passion points.” Armed with that knowledge, “we simply tap into that understanding, and determine who – and where – we want to do that.”

A case in point: Frito-Lay invited singer/songwriter Bebe Rexha to explain to her followers the odd similarity between creating music and developing new snack flavors.

Once she’d sampled the chips, PepsiCo asked Rexha to “sync the flavors up with original music that we wanted her to write,” said Bellinger.

This example hints at a key element of PepsiCo’s approach: “Whether it’s an offline experience, a brand experience, or a program, we bring our influencers into our environment, and really let them shape where it goes,” Bellinger said.

Sourced from WARC