Influencer Marketing, E-Commerce and Social Media: A Case Study on Hawkers Led by Alejandro Betancourt
Hawkers, a company that makes sunglasses with polarized lenses that are impressively designed, was founded in December 2013. In just two years, the company topped the best-of list. It’s fair to say that the company disrupted the fashion eyewear industry. Alejandro Betancourt built the company from just a few hundred initial sales into a mega-sales business that moved 10,000 units per day until 2016 and grossed over 70 million US dollars. To this end, Hawkers revolutionized the potential for e-commerce and online sales, but they didn’t follow the standardized rules. Of the $ 70 million in sales in 2016, nearly $ 65 million came from social media. Here’s how they did it.
In everyday language, influencer marketing is referred to as a paid referral, but Hawkers and Alejandro Betancourt didn’t start out with celebrities as they usually do. Focusing on consumer communities, they began placing their products with influential social media stars to share photos of these influencers not only on the company’s social media platforms but also on each influencer’s platform. Hawkers gave incentives, free goods, and paid the influencer a percentage of every sale they helped create. They also allowed the influencer to offer discounts. These measures enabled the company to leverage each influencer’s social status and circles to sell their products.
Additionally, Alejandro Betancourt and his team have targeted influencer marketing on the college campus, where they have used word of mouth marketing combined with social influence. The Hawkers’ buying community was largely organic. Using word of mouth and social leveraging, the company brought members from more than 140 countries around the world into its buying community.
Today Hawkers sells 90% of its products online. Your ability to disrupt the sunglasses industry is incredible. The company started out from four friends who were promoting a product together to add even more products and many employees. How they did this is simple. They were a new company in need of social influencers, but they didn’t have the budget to book an A-Lister. Instead, they looked at the world around them, the world of social media and its non-prominent influencers.
Hawkers started a Campus Ambassador program that used influencers from social media circles. In Spain, they found 5,000 brand ambassadors in colleges across the country looking to increase sales. They took advantage of the social reach of a wide variety of students from across the college spectrum, including top athletes, students with lots of friends, and the average college kid. Each student posed with Hawkers sunglasses on their social media profile and lived the brand’s lifestyle.
Since each student had their own circle of friends, the word about the brand began to grow. Students attended festivals, concerts, and other events and their selfies showed off Hawkers sunglasses in some cool places. People noticed and Hawker’s sales picked up. Each student’s circle of influence hit the social media world, and from there they helped Hawkers grow into a multimillion-dollar business. That’s the power of social media, and it’s paid off for Hawkers.
Through the power of social media, Hawkers built a shopping community. They later turned to social media ads to expand their reach and increase sales.
Scaling to world sales
From their simple, fashionable designs with quality and style, Hawkers went from selling a few hundred glasses a day to ordering more than 10,000 sunglasses a day. Their workforce rose from five to 65 and they were struggling to keep up with demand. Their success was a product of word of mouth and an affiliate program that enabled their influencers’ personalities to shine and make money. The use of promo codes was significant, and this tool enabled their influencers to give back to their social circles through discounts on Hawkers products.
With Betancourt and the team dealing with insane increases in demand, they turned to Shopify Plus to give the company the technology they needed to keep moving forward. As the company grew, Shopify Plus has efficiently handled that growth. It was a seamless growth that provided Hawkers with the tools they needed.
Shopify’s greatest gift was the team’s ability to focus on what they did best: marketing and sales. Shopify took care of the technology so the team didn’t have to reinvent it. Shopify provided tools like custom integration and API that allowed Hawkers to interact with their shopping community in real time. This customer service contributed to the increase in sales. Providing details of orders at any point in time is not only helpful for the buyer’s journey, but also enables the company to stay in touch with customers who may be purchasing more products. Shopify Plus made for the win-win situation.
The lesson learned
Today Hawkers is on Spain’s top 10 list for startups, operates in over 50 countries worldwide and has sales of more than 4.5 million units. They have made more than $ 100 million in sales and continue to challenge some of the top and iconic brands. They like to tackle social issues and tailor their products to appeal to their shopping community. As a sustainable and environmentally friendly company, they are popular with many members of the shopping community.
We talk a lot about the power of consumption, but not every company listens. Social media marketing and the power of word-of-mouth marketing enable a company to deal directly with the end user. Other companies can learn from it. Because Betancourt and his team took the time to take care of what their clients considered important, what they believed in, and what social concerns they had, they turned it all into a company that did it, in just a few cases of an investment of $ 300 to achieve $ 100 million in sales in years.