The partnership economy in 2022: top tips for the industry’s biggest year

retail partnership economy

The last few years have been some of the most challenging our industry has faced. The global pandemic has created uncertainty and triggered a host of new consumer habits, and constant adaptation and transformation have been key to growth and success.

Despite this, in 2021 impact.com achieved some significant milestones as a business. We’re proud to report we are now actively supporting over a million partnerships for more than 2000 customers. We also secured new funding that has seen the company valued at $1.5bn, and record growth in 2021 saw us welcome 65 additional agency partners to our growing roster, and more than 700 new brands, including Puma, Skyscanner and Swarovski.

But, there’s a feeling at impact.com that the hard work begins now. Businesses are beginning to move away from traditional digital marketing methods, apprehensive about the exorbitant prices big tech platforms are charging for ads, the cookieless future and growing concerns about consumer privacy. The result is that companies are turning to the partnership economy to engage audiences in fresh, honest, authentic ways. Let’s take a look at a few key top tips and trends we think might be important for the partnership economy in 2022.

How retail can benefit from the partnership economy

  1. As Generation Z comes of age as an economic force we are going to see the biggest shift in buying behaviour in the last 20 years. With Instagram and TikTok rotating towards an affiliate partnership model, traditional digital advertisers and platforms will need to play catchup to service this large audience, and this will boost innovation. Generation Z are also key in driving ethical shopping trends, which will be increasingly important for marketers to consider.
  1. In 2022, content will (still) be king. And that’s especially true in the case of publishers, who are beginning to realise the potential power their content holds. Monetising the relationship and trust between publishers and audience is going to become very popular as marketers recognise the opportunities that commerce content offers, especially with the impending death of the cookie and traditional, targeted digital advertising models losing popularity.
  1. We also believe that 2022 will be the year that B2B adopts the partnership economy, as businesses begin to recognise its benefits are not reserved exclusively for consumer facing companies. At impact.com, we’ve been keen to pioneer this adoption, and have ourselves engaged in a number of exciting B2B partnerships. These include collaborating with Shopify Plus as a certified app partner for influencer and affiliate marketing. This allows Shopify Plus merchants to access the power of impact.com’s influencer marketing tools to launch their own partnership programmes, at the click of a button.
  1. Looking at the broader picture, value, transparency and flexibility with partners is going to become extra important as the industry rapidly expands. Being open and honest with partners, whether that’s on an influencer marketing campaign or working with a publisher on a commerce content deal, is the best way to ensure productive collaborations, and goals and information should be openly shared both ways. It’s called a partnership for a reason. 
  1. The beauty of the partnership economy’s flexible nature means it is easy for new, exciting partnership types to join the fun. A good example of this is the buy now pay later (BNPL) industry joining affiliate programmes. While BNPL isn’t for every brand and encouraging customers to buy on credit should be done with considerable care, BNPL has proven to boost customer retention, and is a payment method that resonates strongly with Generation Z. 
  1. If 2021 was the year influencer marketing came of age, in 2022 we will see the segment begin to fully mature and fulfil its incredible promise. There has never been a better way to engage an audience with the degree of authenticity and trust the format offers, and it’s now easier than ever to achieve detailed ROI metrics that demonstrate just how valuable influencer marketing can be to a brand. In 2020, 50m people identified as influencers (according to eMarketer) and that number is only going to increase as the sector expands at pace, with some agencies predicting the global industry to be worth $85 bn by 2028
  1. And finally, the shift and overlap between brand and performance marketing is going to grow as these two disciplines become increasingly less silo’d. This is especially the case with influencer marketing and brand to brand partnerships, and we’re now seeing instances where traditional brand partners are moving into the performance space, with performance teams or channels going the other way, looking to get a metric out of a brand buy. And this can only be a good thing for audiences, who will be served with the right creative messaging.

Utilise the partnership economy in 2022

Whatever your company’s goals for 2022, the partnership economy offers brands unparalleled opportunities to engage customers in fresh, authentic ways, and we couldn’t be more excited about helping marketers do that in 2022.