social media influencer trends food vlog

I’m adding a new skill to the job spec of an fmcg founder: the ability to self-promote and over-share shamelessly in public, digital spaces. As Brits we find this territory uncomfortable, but there is no denying the shift we’re seeing through our LinkedIn feeds and the new brands stocked on supermarket shelves. We’re moving away from the era of the elusive CEO, and into an age where founders are front and centre of brands.

You may think this is caused by a self-obsessed generation having their stab at entrepreneurship. However, I’d argue it’s driven by a consumer demand for authenticity and connectivity.

In a world where we’re increasingly tech-tethered, disconnected and facing an identity crisis, the brands we buy become a way for consumers to belong, connect and express their values. Following a founder’s journey makes consumers feel part of something bigger and enables them to decipher whether to trust the brand or not – which, in the context of AI and fake news, is becoming all the more crucial.

Do you believe this brand cares about the environment, or are they greenwashing? It’s far easier to make this call from a founder’s words than a well-written bit of copy on a billboard.

I started speaking directly to camera on the Bold Bean Co Instagram almost a year before we launched. Those first 400 followers saw me awkwardly navigate my own self-awareness as I posted a video I’d recorded for the eighth time that day, asking them if I should call my bean business Le Gume or Bold Bean Co. As painful as this shameless oversharing was for me at the time, this was the cheapest way I could build loyalty – and it worked.

These followers became our initial brand advocates. They told journalists and deli owners about their ‘friend’s’ brand and helped Bold Bean Co grow quickly with low marketing costs. While since I’ve taken more of a backseat in our socials, the relationship I have been able to build with our community has been our startup’s version of Dunnhumby data – the closest we’ve got to understanding our customer and driving loyalty.

Even where founders had personal followings first, I’d argue it’s this, not their stardom, that led to success. Brands like Grace Beverley’s Shreddy, Dr Megan Rossi’s Bio&Me and Ella Woodward’s Deliciously Ella didn’t start understanding their consumers after their first thousand sales, but in fact built their product, their brand and their entire business anchored in a deep understanding of their personal profile’s audience.

Creator-led brands are leveraging social media, achieving engagement rates that traditional and celebrity-driven brands can only dream of. Why? Because these creators are genuine. They’re not just selling, they’re sharing and engaging in a dialogue with their community.

And here’s the thing: authenticity sells. About 63% of gen Z and millennials are ready to switch their loyalties to a brand if it’s run by a creator they follow and admire. That’s not just impressive, it’s transformative to the fmcg landscape and the brands we should expect to see winning.

The grocers are recognising the power of personal brands not only to sell, but to draw customers into store. Just this month, Waitrose capitalised on the surge of consumers searching for Middle Eastern products by developing a bespoke range with Yotam Ottolenghi himself. Having built credibility for his recipe writing over years, and introduced the nation to za’atar, Ottolenghi’s personal brand stands for next-level quality and adventurous cooking – values we instinctively see in his new range of sauces and spice blends.

Many people will see this as nothing new – celebrities have been associated with consumer products for centuries. But I’m not talking about the stardom endorsement products like Kylie Minogue’s rosé. I’m talking about creators who may not be publicly ‘famous’, but have a deep connection to the people that do engage with them. I’m talking about the founders who are sharing their journeys, the highs and lows, on public spaces for everyone to see.

The successful brands of tomorrow are those whose leaders are willing to be visible and vocal, creating a transparent and trustworthy dialogue with their consumers. This isn’t just about self-promotion – it’s about building a genuine relationship where consumers can see and feel the passion behind the products they choose.