A look at how big brands find success with influencers.

In a world dominated by digital landscapes, the collaboration between brands like Hershey’s, SheSpeaks and retail giant Walmart has generated promising engagement in a growing era of marketing innovation through influencer partnerships.

Hershey’s launch into influencer marketing paired the confectionery empire with tastemakers to spotlight its latest creations. These include delectable KitKat flavors like Apple Pie, Key Lime Pie, and Birthday Cake. Emphasizing authenticity and genuine consumer engagement, Hershey’s handpicked influencers shared a heartfelt affinity for their products, ensuring the campaign resonated deeply with audiences.

New varieties from KitKat including Chocolate Frosted Donut and the DUOS Strawberry + Dark Chocolate are beginning to hit store shelves. While consumers wait, they will likely get the scoop on taste early from influencers.

“The Hershey Company has not historically been very active with the influencer world. I also think there’s been a little bit of an evolution of who we were 10 years ago to who we are today,” said Jessica DuQuesne, International Commercial Growth Office brand manager for The Hershey Company.

DuQuesne was among the top industry leaders keynoting this year’s Ragan Social Media Conference at Walt Disney World.

“We leveraged influencers because we wanted to share something new and exciting, and we wanted to make sure that everybody could hear,” she added. ” In this case, the news was KitKat flavors.”

Hershey’s wasn’t alone in recognizing the potential of influencer marketing. Walmart tapped into the power of local influencers to shine a spotlight on its products, including the beloved KitKat. By seamlessly integrating brand messaging and leveraging influencer reach, Walmart forged stronger connections with its audience while enhancing employee morale through initiatives like employee recognition programs.

The strategic evolution in marketing extends beyond mere promotion; it’s about driving tangible results and fostering brand loyalty. SheSpeaks, a key partner in Hershey’s journey, echoed the sentiment while shedding light on one of its challenges: fair compensation for women. The influencer industry grapples with gender pay disparities, with men often earning more despite a predominantly female workforce.

Aliza Freud is CEO of SheSpeaks, an award-winning influencer marketing company partnering with inspiring brands to craft insight-driven influencer programs. Freud, who joined the conference conversation with Du Quesne, explained efforts are underway to bridge this gap, with initiatives aimed at empowering women to negotiate fair compensation. Despite being female-dominated, men earn 30% more on average.

“We feel very strongly that it is important for women to get what they deserve in terms of getting paid,” she said. “This is a big initiative for us and our team, and we are lucky to have partners like Hershey’s that care about the same things we do.”

As Hershey’s continues to embrace the influencer landscape, it’s clear this paradigm shift isn’t just about marketing products — it’s about crafting authentic narratives, celebrating diversity, and empowering voices that resonate with audiences far beyond the aisles of a store.

Conference attendee Ian McLachlan, a multimedia specialist at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, said he was looking forward to hearing the presentation highlighting influencer impact.

“My main takeaway is that disingenuous advertising has become a thing of the past,” McLachlan said. “As Hershey’s has caught on to, consumers respond more to other consumers promoting products in an authentic way.”

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