Going for One, Plastic Bags & Counterculture

Going for One, Plastic Bags & Counterculture

Who’s to Blame in the Inebriation Game?

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Ireland and the UK has a destructive drinking culture. And in an all but amicable fashion, I admit that I might have to include myself and many of my friends in this category, if only for a brief spell in life called University. I realise that such a statement could be potentially detrimental, but I’m ready to fight my corner. Additionally, if ten current university students in Belfast were to read this, my train of thought would be far from unique. What causes us to act and think in this way? Is it innate? Or possibly a byproduct of culture, influencers, support systems and media? As I sit and critique our drinking culture, I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. Many times, I’ve met a housemate on their way to class, him strolling into Monday morning as I stumble my way out of Sunday night. Him shouting Pancake Tuesday at me and me hearing Sheffield Wednesday; most of us have been there or thereabouts. But this isn’t quite the problem. Long gone are the days of “Guinness is Good for You” but a culture where “FOMO” (or fear of missing out) is normalised to the point that we use it as an excuse to binge when we have more pressing things to consider, who’s to blame for our nonchalant attitude towards a significant societal issue?

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It’s often satirized that “sure we’ll go for one” is the biggest lie you and your mates will ever tell yourselves #SureWhatAmILike. While this may be true, the truth just might not be so funny. We as a culture, particularly the student culture, make light of our inability to limit ourselves to one pint at the pub, a solitary glass of wine or single measure for a change. Within popular culture and assisted by various social media platforms, this standpoint on how we drink is almost desirable. Interestingly, and something that students know all about, this has undergone a bit of a syntactical change in recent years. For some, “going for one” refers to the act of one single drink and returning home, often as there is something more important to deal with. That’s the gist at least- personal experiences may vary. But for many, going for one is a financial decision as the gradual ascent of the price of pints means many can’t participate for more than a round or two in their local. This may sound like this would be a step in the right direction for our drinking problem, but it’s not quite as simple as this- but more on that later. Returning to our initial definition of the phrase; Who causes us to view these actions in such a way? And is anyone talking about how much of a problem it is? Could it possibly be the same people?

As my Dad (The philosopher and king of the lightweights that he is) often reminds me “Your age can go nowhere without having a drink. You even drink before going drinking. I remember when we used to batter each other with sticks ’til some gave up. We lost the same amount of brain cells, but at least we were getting some fresh air!” Lost brain cells might explain a bit, but I feel there is more to this. Many of us feel lost for inspiration for things to do in the evenings or the weekends that doesn’t involve a drink. This is not the case for all, but I know many of you will have experienced the struggle at times. Returning to my earlier gripe, the problem with not being financially stable to go to a pub, I think my Dad has hit the nail on the head. Youth today drink to go drinking, and less affordable pubs means the notion of sitting and drinking in houses, often consuming much more at a quicker rate and occasionally enraging some neighbours, without even the silver lining of generating much for the economy (say the way they might at, a pub) has a genuine, unfaltering appeal. This reality mixed with the romanticised notion of pure inebriation in our culture can result in a downward spiral that many feel the effects of on an existential level.

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From an outside perspective, fingers are often pointed in the same directions. The popular Facebook page Humans of the Sesh is often criticized for promoting ideologies that are nothing more than fuel to fire of our mass consumption of alcohol. After all, the boys behind the notorious “Big Bag of Cans” craic are surely responsible for many livers looking like a punched jambon. This over-the-top machoism and love for mangling one’s self, unfortunately, seems to be taken a bit literally for some, but I feel it’s a tad naïve to pin such a societal issue on the satirical content of a few young guys caught up in the counterculture. Another common target is Blindboy from the infamous comedy duo The Rubber Bandits who found out that singing songs about fighting your father and claiming to be on drugs on live TV doesn’t necessarily provide job security as a lecturer in University of Limerick, nor does wearing a bag on your face all the time conceal your identity, apparently. Don’t worry about Blindboy though, he’s raking in 150,000 listeners a week with The Blindboy Podcast where he seems to articulate the ramblings of the common people time and time again, often touching on issues like the state of the modern economy, mental health and his own struggles. Yet interestingly, no Irish brands seem to show any interest in promoting his insights.

So where do we stand in all of this finger pointing? Are we so emotionally inaccessible that arguably our biggest public speaker about mental health in youth comes from a satire artist with a bag for a face? Concerning, when you consider that our generation is thought to be significantly more in tune with our emotions than previous generations, and even more so when you consider that the average teenager today reports more anxiety than the average child in a psychiatric unit in the 1950’s. When 56% of teenagers in the country believe that anyone their age diagnosed with a mental illness would be treated differently, is it really so unusual to identify with the social outcast with the bag on his head? Long may his off-kilter delivery of the truth continue. Yes, I’ll take a bag for life, please.

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My interest really sparked when coming across a current campaign to Save the Local spearheaded by Havas. Upon watching the attached advert, it’s fair to say I felt quite upbeat, with emotionally persuasive phrases like “Our culture, our identity, the life of the village” really galvanising the idea of the pub. That’s where this thought began. What was the true purpose of this campaign? For an innocent minute, I considered that in a culture where our issues are often swept under the rug, an effort to help facilitate less excessive pre-drinking may be the purpose. Soon later, I landed on the charmless reality that this is no more than a gentle sales booster. More pints, more money, no real progress. The nine million pounds campaign over three years to help save “the local” comes as a result of the stats that three pubs a day close permanently across the UK. Unfortunately, asking for money that people don’t have doesn’t necessarily mean that people won’t hand it over, either. The campaign mentions that pubs are under “increasing tax pressures“. Sorry to tell you pubs, you’re not alone on that one.

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So, we’ve looked at our culture, we’ve considered our influencers and we’ve heard what the media has to say. Where else can we turn in search of an answer? How about the support that those in trouble really receive? To be frank, it’s nothing short of ridiculous to consider that increasing the price of cheap alcohol by a few cents is really going to help to irradiate a drinking problem. Here we have thousands of cases of people who have let go of their careers, their family, their lives all relinquished due to their issues with alcohol. Any notion that a pound more per tin might be the point of no return for these unfortunate cases is genuinely ludicrous. We as a society are taking a drinking problem and adding on a financial problem.  Lambasted by our aforementioned influencers, Humans of the Sesh, they summarize; “Unfortunately, the real reason people go on mad drinking sessions is that they probably feel unfulfilled in a society where it’s harder and harder to even get on the first rung of the ladder of what we culturally consider to be a success“.

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My argument is beginning to resonate with Homer Simpson’s “Alcohol; the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems” and being linked to the GOAT of animated Television is fine with me. I think a lot of us, students in particular, are stuck somewhere between “eat drink and be merry” and wondering if the drink takes more out of us than we take from it, and both are natural, healthy states of mind to have. The truth is, alcohol has the power to be a wonderful central convention. Be that a pint with the boys, wine night with the girls, or a hot whiskey with your significant other when they’re under the weather. It can evoke moments of unadulterated truth, accompany some of the finer times in life, and even open floodgates that were probably bursting at the seams for a bit too long. Giving my two cents; Remember to have fun, remember to be responsible and if it seems like somebody at the table isn’t managing either of them, remember to check how they’re really doing. And for all you might be going through; This Bud’s For You.

To good health; Sláinte

Eamon Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Twitter – @EamonDaly5 ; LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/eamon-daly-608780137

Ge ne uis or l’eau de chris?

Weirdest title ever? I know! Bear with me though there is a method to the….madness?

As this is my first blog post I should probably start by saying a few things about myself, I am a final year Communication Management and Public Relations student, I am on my 5th year of university after doing a year in Leeds studying Event Management. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out for me, so here I am 5 years on from leaving school, in Jordanstown approaching my last 9 months of university, oh also I am obsessed with my dog and love, love, love, Love Island!

Now I don’t exactly love, love, love Love Island, I could definitely still live without it but it leads me onto what this blog post is actually about.

It’s the 9th October 2017 and Chris Hughes, a contestant from summer ’17 series of Love Island has just released he will be partnering up with Topman, one of the UKs biggest high street retailers for men (and women, great for an oversized hoodie ladies!) to sell bottled water named L‘Eau de Chris, infused with his own tears. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook any social media platform you can think of went into melt down.

Now, if you haven’t heard or have no interest in the Love Island frenzy, Chris was known on the show for shedding a tear here and there, and rightly so, everyone has there moments, right? Everybody hopped on the band wagon “oh this is just another way for them to make money” “absolutely ridiculous, selling your own tears, you should be ashamed of yourself” to state but a few of the harsh tweets- I have inserted a few below to have a chuckle at when this was released, allowing a good 16 hours to pass of mixed reviews of his new business partnership, receiving praise from some and not so much praise from others. Over these 16 hours Chris allowed his followers to drop and rise, twitter to go crazy and Instagram to be bombarded with horrible comments, all whilst knowing the real reason behind his new “business venture”.

  

  

The plot thickens, Topman was not Chris Hughes newest venture, CALM- Campaign Against Living Miserably, a leading UK based charity to help against male suicide was.

This new campaign was in fact in aid of increasing awareness of male suicide, smart, eh?

Chris Hughes is now in fact one of the newest ambassadors for CALM and face of their campaign #dontbottleitup, this all came from his courage and openness whilst being featured on the show, as I said *or typed* before, everybody has their down moments so why keep it in, male or female? Chris Hughes has openly spoke about his problems with anxiety and how talking about problems and speaking openly has really helped him.

Chris stated in his interview with CALM “it’s like halving the problem straight away when you talk with someone about it” and that I completely agree with and commend him for how open he is, obviously I am a girl but by being around my brother, dad and boyfriend I know how hard it can be for men to show emotion or open up. There is that stigma now that men need to be ‘masculine’ and women are the ‘emotional’ ones but I completely dis agree and this is exactly why I think this PR campaign is one of the best social media has seen. Any suicide, male or female is absolutely horrendous and soul destroying, so campaigns like these are what is needed in this generation to get people talking, talking about their problems and opening up.

Okay, to the title, ‘Genius or Ludacris’ get it now?

The name behind the bottled water in the first place means Ludacris i.e. its Ludacris to feel like you should bottle it up, this was all very fitting as it was also World Mental Health Day, the day the initial campaign/prank was released.  After it the cat was out of the bag, opinions completely changed and so did the general public’s view on Chris Hughes, very quickly.

This whole campaign and PR stunt helped to spread the hashtag around not just the UK but around the world and really, I think that is the perfect venture for someone with his following and platform to go towards. Don’t get me wrong I can’t help but have ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out), when I miss just one episode, I can’t be the only one to admit to that? But usually end up hating them all once they come out and take over my Instagram and twitter with their horrendous teeth whitening discount codes or new merch, but this changed my perception on Chris completely….and hopefully will change yours too!

Sarah Heath is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @sarahmeganheath,  Instagram @sarahmeganjane, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-heath-375053a6/

 

I started waking up at 4am, it was interesting…

I know, some of the people that are reading this title will either be already doing something very similar or the opposite end of the spectrum, people that will think this is ridiculous. However let me explain.

 

Let’s be clear, I LOVE MY BED, way too much in fact. Ever since I gained the name in my household as a sloth and lazy it has latched on to my ankles like a ball and chain ever since, struggling to shake the ever-lasting name of LAZY that burdens me within my family to this day. Society has always pinned early risers as winners of life, people who are automatically successful, heck there is even sayings such as “The Early Bird Catches the worm”, you don’t hear people say “The late bird gets the worm” it just doesn’t happen. People whom like their bed not as much.  Image result for waking up early memes

 

So I decided once and for all to end the association of laziness with myself. I strolled into the kitchen and announced I am going to start getting up at 4am, 2 hours before my dad. To put it lightly it was laughed off, me? 4am, no way. But yes way, they just didn’t realise it yet.

 

So on the Monday it began, my alarm went off at 4am, it was a rainy morning as I could hear the rain bouncing of the window and I got that warm feeling when your just toasty in the bed, my head softly supported by the pillow life was good, but I knew I had to, I had to do it at least once? Surely? So I did.

 

I walked through the house into kitchen where I was met by my dog who was still asleep and woke to see me, I’m pretty sure he thought it was morning as he didn’t even think I would be awake at this time, but I was. I made myself tea and sat down at the computer to sort out emails for work. I worked away not really passing any remarks on the time. It was just the dog, the rain and I.

 

I heard the door open slowly, it was dad he nearly dropped when he seen me, I told him I have been awake since 4. I showed him the work that I had done and while showing him what I had done it hit me. I had done everything for that day. I had sent every email, sent out every order and organised my week. It was almost as if I had found a cheat code in life. I had done my work before the world woke up. The day was less stressful, I somehow felt less tired, and I could think more clearly and had more time in the evenings. I felt like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Elon Musk.

 

I think what I’m trying to say is that although it seems outrageous to begin with, and in all honesty stupid. It somehow manages to hack life, I can get work done before work is done, and before anyone else starts his or her day I have half of the work done for my day. It a life hack, I’m not saying this can work for anyone, but If I can gather myself from my bed in the early hours of the mornings. Anyone Can, Literally anyone can.

Stephen Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of student life.

From the moment I decided that I wanted to go to university in 6th year, I suppose you could say it was all I could think about. The independence, partying and of course the student loan. Coming to the end of my uni experience I decided now is the perfect time to reminisce on the good memories and of course the bad… I suppose those preparing for University and those that have just started are wondering what the downside of this life could possibly be. In my experience, I did only have good memories of student life minus the landlords I have encountered with over the past three years.

From the moment you first get that student loan into your bank you feel like you’re the richest person on this planet, until its 4 months down the line and you’re ringing your bank begging for an overdraft. If I was to give one piece of advice when it comes to your loan, it would be pay your rent up front and then you won’t feel as half as rich anymore. However, in saying that I don’t think I ever learnt from my own mistakes, so don’t feel bad if you’re only a month into your loan and you have half of it spent already.

When it comes it choosing the house that you’re going to live in for most of the year, do it wisely. My experience when it comes to student houses hasn’t been great, from the ceiling near caving in in my first-year house to my bedroom ceiling actually caving in in my second-year house. The luxury house that we viewed at the start turned into a living nightmare was the only way to sum up this house. We thought it was the best house within the holylands until we had realised a month in and we were living in an Ikea showroom and not a real house.

From the moment it had click with us that this house only looked nice but didn’t perform like the way you expect a house to, that’s whenever it went downhill for us. When you realise the house that you’re meant to live in is the worst place in the world, what else do you think of doing as a student apart from using it as a house for drinking. The house slowly dwindled in condition which eventually when it came to May time we couldn’t even bare the smell of the amount of drink that had been split over our living room. In fact, the living room was a complete and utter eyesore.

However, another reason for turning what was meant to be our home into an eyesore was the landlord. The experience that we had with our landlord was the worst encounter you would ever wish to have. Our house was falling apart, and they wouldn’t answer the phone to us, the only ever contact we would have with them was whenever it was the first of the month and they were looking their £250. There was actually one time whenever they eventually came to fix a leak that we had for about a month and the ‘builders’ were throwing bricks off our roof and we were told “do not go out your back or you will die”. I’m not too sure but I don’t think it was in anyway safe or legal what they were doing. Anyone we had told about our landlord, knew of him and knew what he was like, so if you ever go to rent a house in the holylands, I would advise you to use a legal property agent.

In saying all this, I can’t recommend student life enough so enjoy it while you can but just don’t pick the worst house and landlord in the holylands.

Kacie O’Connor is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @kacieoconnor 

Is The Rapid Rise Of The Gin Industry Killing Traditional Drinking Cultures?

As I am sure you know over the last 5 years the gin industry has taken a rapid rise seeming to come completely out of nowhere. It is no surprise that the rise of the industry itself is seen as nothing short of a miracle for distilleries large or small. More and more people are being seen to spend more and buying big on premium brands of alcohol. Now more than ever, people are less likely now to go for a standard bottle of wine or beer from the supermarket and are now focusing on more premium labels, which is one of the main reasons for the rise of the industry itself.HD1

In 20018 the sales of gin reached a record high rising 40% in the combined markets of bars, hospitality and supermarkets reaching £1.5 billion, selling around 55 million bottles in 12 months. In the last 5 years the sales in the UK alone for gin have more than doubled. From march 2013 to march 2018 the sales have went from £696 million to £1.5 billion, which is an increase of 804 million, the increase itself is beyond belief when you look at the figures especially with how competitive the drinks market is with so many established brands.

 

When you look at the larger scale of the growth of the industry you can’t help but think is the rise in sales ruining traditional drinking cultures? can this rise have an instrumental effect on other alcohol markets such as the beer, wine and lower grade spirits. One key factor about the drinks industry is that people all have a preference on a certain brand and tend to stick to that brand throughout most of their life making the market relatively hard to sway especially if you are launching a new brand into the market most people seem very brand loyal to their preferred choice. For me personally I am a Guinness drinker and I tend to very rarely sway away from that brand you would never see me drink any other form of stout such as Murphy’s and I would now and again but not very often take a Hop house or Budweiser. This in my eyes would make me out as being a more traditionally cultured drinker I enjoy a simpler approach to enjoying a drink through a pint of my favourite brand and you wouldn’t see me often sway away from this to other brands. However, with this new-found gin culture you see more and more people venturing away from traditional drinking cultures, going out and maybe trying 6 or even 7 different brands of gin with various different mixers.

The sudden rise of the industry has not just brought with its major profits for the market but also brought about a different culture within the alcohol industry, even the whole idea of going out for a drink has changed people go out and spend a great deal more on the premium brands, put a lot more effort into their appearance and make more of a deal of going for a drink.HD3

Some people would suggest the days of going for a social quite pint after work are now long gone the drinks industry has now changed and grown into a more sophisticated type market. The drinking culture we once knew is now heading out of the social norm it is now becoming more and more of a monthly event with and the social, traditional culture side is gradually disappearing.HD4

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up it could result in the rest of the market suffering greatly, it is clearly seen by major companies the way the industry is going with Diageo now more than ever pushing out their premium drinks rage such as Tanqueray at promotions, as well focusing highly on their gin range with the new release of Gordon’s Pink gin taking centre stage the last 2 years. This itself shows not a great deal of faith in the traditional drinks industry with the major brands Diageo owns such as Guinness, Harp, Carlsberg and Smirnoff almost being moved out of centre stage to make way for gin brands.HD2

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up before we know it the industry itself could become one sided. The traditional drinking culture we know will gradually get smaller and possibly even disappear. As a result, this could lead to once major brands declining in sales and possibly even disappearing themselves. The social aspect of our drinking culture may be turned into an upper-class privilege and less of a social culture for everyone. Although some may say this is nothing more than a phase in the industry, and this possibly is true, however one this is for sure and that is that it has had a major effect on the traditional drinking culture we have. The industry is now becoming more sophisticated and with that comes more expense. Gin may only be the top of the industry for a few more years but what it’s done to the industry might have led to a permanent change to the traditional drinking culture we have.

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugh-dornan-60376a14b/

 

 

Hasta Luego, Jago…

I’m currently studying Communication Management and Public Relations BSc (Hons) and have just approached week 8 of the dreaded final year, a stage that I never thought I could successfully (ish) reach and now plan and hope to successfully *touch wood* complete.

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Throughout my whole university career I always said that I was 100% going to complete a placement year before going in to final year because it seemed to be the ‘norm’ thing to do, even though in CMPR it is optional whether you complete one or not. As I got further into second year I began to hear the words ‘placement’, ‘job adds’, ‘CVs’, ‘cover letters’ and so on more and more as well as hearing my friends and others around me talking about where they had applied to and what interviews they had coming up and subtly I ignored it all until exam season approached out of nowhere and that’s when panic struck, hard. I didn’t even know where to begin getting organised or where to start looking.

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I ended up getting in contact with the company Jago Communications, a PR agency in Belfast City Centre. I went for an interview meeting with the company’s Managing Director Shona Jago and Communications Manager Fiona Hanna. Fiona presented a PowerPoint in one of our lectures in second year about the company and what they had to offer (so go to your guest lectures folks, the can actually be very useful!). I was then offered a month long internship in Jago, I started in June after my exams and didn’t look back, I loved it and all of a sudden 1 month turned into 4 and I continued to work with them until the bitter end and I had to go back to uni and start final year, hitting the ground running.

When working with Jago I was threw into the working world of PR and was trusted to do jobs I didn’t think I was ready for or never thought or expected to be doing. People hear the word ‘Internship’ and think ‘oh that’s just making tea and coffee or printing things out all day..’ it’s absolutely not (as long as you get in with the right company that care about the future of PR and upcoming graduates and want to provide you with the necessary experience you’ll need once you graduate). My summer internship gave me the opportunity to be able to see what working hands on in PR is actually like, giving me the chance to explore and figure out if I really enjoy that field of work which involved things such as being able to produce actual press releases that were then published in newspapers.

The internship allowed me to take part in jobs, produce work, and experience different opportunities that I would’ve also experienced if I had taken a placement year. I even got my own company headshot (check me out, big girl now), that’s when you know you’re getting old and will soon have to let go of your fresher like university ways that you’ve been living for the past 3-4 years :-(.

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It allowed me to network and connect with other professionals and clients of the company which will be hugely useful for me in the future. Being involved with the hardworking, fast paced and positive team that is Jago, and being able to see actual success and results from that hard work has just made me more determined and eager to work in a team and field like that in the future (hence the title of this blog, hopefully).

Anyway, moral of the story here is that you absolutely do not and should not follow the crowd or do what all of your friends are doing or worry about not graduating with your friends, one worry which I dwelled on far too much. Do what you think will be best for you and you might find yourself in a position you never thought you would be in and one that worked out for the better!

After all, here I am starting final year without a placement year but still holding proper experience, knowing what to expect for the big bad working world ahead of me. Wish me luck! I’ll need it..

Claire.

Claire Kearney is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-kearney-835a68165 ; Instagram @claire_kearney ; Twitter @Claire_Kearney ; Facebook https://www.facebook.com/claire.kearney.98

Under the Influence

When it comes to modern day businesses, Digital marketing is leaps and bounds ahead of all other forms of advertising. It’s expensive – companies are spending up to 1.5bn on Instagram alone – but its effectiveness means that big businesses have no hesitation in investing time, money and effort into it.

So where’s all that money going? The answer is that a lot of it is going straight into the pockets of influencers*. Influencers who are affecting our buying decisions everyday, without us evening realizing it.

*In case you’ve been living under a rock influencers can be described as “a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.”

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Basically, influencers are everyday people like you and me. They don’t have to be celebrities (although they’re often classed as one) and they don’t need to have a discernable talent or passion. Most of them just need a good iPhone camera and a cool looking selfie backdrop.

Do I sound bitter? Let’s move on.

Brands will send free PR packages to these ‘instagramers’ with as little as 5k followers in exchange for a ad post & a promo code to share with their friends, in the hope that their influence will result in more people buying their products. Gaining immense internet popularity allows an influencer to shape and impact their audience’s opinions on matters through blog posts, videos, pictures, tweets, and so on.

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And it works. In a recent report, 72% of millennials admitted to buying their fashion and beauty products based on the instagram posts of their favourite influencers. I mean, Jeffrey Star said this lipstick is amazing. So it has to be… right?

This is perhaps surprising, given that millennials often display a mistrust of those around them, be it previous generations, politicians, or people higher up in society. So why does a generation who claim to have so many trust issues have so much trust in the people they view on social media?

Well…because Millennials LOVE validation.

71% of people are more likely to make a purchase if they get a recommendation or validation from their peers or their favorite blogger. No matter how good a product may appear or claim to be, how can we be so sure? For me personally, buying a product is never simply a “add to basket” task anymore. When I spot that new eyeshadow palette I really want (but really don’t need) you can bet I’ll be looking up reviews on YouTube before buying it. Like yeah, I really want this – but what did Jordan Lipscombe think of it?

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Validation from our peers is just the same. Think of all the time’s you’ll do a catwalk for your besties of the 13 different outfits you’ve tried on and hated before having a breakdown and claiming to have NOTHING TO WEAR and are no longer going out. Despite your bed and bedroom floor being covered in more than enough clothes. But that’s part of the Scratch Monday routine really.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising”.

– Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and possible extraterrestrial who ironically talks about trusting people –

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Style envy

“Industry influencers in niches such as fashion and beauty hold a lot of sway over this consumer group,” Molz said. “They start trends, determine what’s cool and desirable, and curate the must-have items as fashion magazines used to do.”

In the noughties the public would have determined what they would have worn at the weekend by what the celebrities were wearing in the ‘style steal’ section of Closer, or copied that dress Angelina Jolie was wearing in the red carpet photo they seen in OK. This is no longer the case as instead of reading a magazine on the bus or whilst waiting on the kettle to boil, we’re scrolling through instagram. Companies must recognize and adapt to this and ask themselves ‘who has the hold over their their target audience?’ This is easy – bloggers and vloggers, publishers, YouTubers, etc.

“Getting their seal of approval could be key in pushing millennials further into the sales funnel.” According to the Collective Bias study, while shopping at a store, “60% consumers have been influenced by a social media post or a blog review.”

It’s all science

Despite the fact of having often millions of followers, more clothes than they could wear in a lifetime & earn 5 digits for a single instagram post (Zoella srsly gets £12k per instagram post) – influencers are still perceived as mostly ‘normal people’, therefore relatable for millennials. When it comes down to it, they don’t do much more than we do on a daily basis (still sorta bitter over this) except it’s shared with millions of people.

Our desire to be like our favourite influencer can be explained by the psychological concept ‘social proof’ which was popularized by psychologist Robert Ciadlini. Basically, whenever we don’t know what to do or how to act we look to others and imitate them, especially in times of crisis. Who knew that copying a makeup tutorial from your favourite youtuber and failing miserably is psychological.

Another psychological example of why influencers work is the halo effect. The halo effect is cognivite bias where we judge someone’s opinion based on our overall impression of them. Basically, if we start to enjoy someones content and have positive thoughts about them, anything they’re involved in becomes more positive to us. This is why influencer testimonial works. SCIENCE.

CM7

Anyway, enough of that technical stuff. Back to the real world.

So yeah, innocently following a good looking instagrammer that you spotted on the explore page (wearing an outfit you can only dream being able to pull off) seems all fun and games, but who knew it’s contributing to our everyday life & companies are making MILLIONS FROM US. Is anything NOT strategic these days?

At the end of the day, social media is pretty toxic… so let’s just remember that the girl with 122k followers who we claim we’d DIE to look like (bit dramatic) gets her hair done every week for free in an exchange for a instagram post, is sent all her clothes in PR packages AND has access to any beauty treatment she wants – WHENEVER SHE WANTS IT, as long as she puts up a pic on the gram of her new lashes.

So for the sake of our own self worth – let’s stop comparing ourselves to them & stop being constantly under the influence.

Catherine Maguire is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire