How ASMR Influencers in the US Grew 10X in Four Years
There is something "oddly satisfying" about watching videos on social media where all you can hear is tapping, chewing, water splashing, cracking, and other noises. It is called the Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) trigger — a pleasurable tingling sensation in the crown of the head in response to audio-visual stimulation.
Over the years, many brands have used this as a marketing strategy for brand positioning and awareness by recruiting ASMR influencers. In recent years, particularly in nations like the USA, it has expanded enormously into the influencer marketing sphere. According to the data from affable.ai, the number of ASMR influencers on Instagram has increased tenfold over the past four years, from 701 in 2018 to 7,129 in 2022.
Sponsored posts by ASMR influencers on Instagram have also seen a global increase of at least 62.43% from 2020 to 2022. It's because these influencers offer a sensory perspective through sight and sound besides highlighting your product's features. While the USA is taking the lead by working with ASMR influencers in product categories like food, fashion, lifestyle, and consumer goods, countries in the SEA region are still adapting to it.
Analyzing over 2.36M influencer profiles on Instagram worldwide, the platform data shows that the growth of ASMR in SEA nations is relatively slower. But countries like Indonesia and the Philippines have started to discover the satisfaction generated by ASMR content, building a sense of community and connection in the audience in the last four years.
ASMR triggers have become a hot trend in the influencer marketing sphere, and in this article, we'll walk you through why it's become so popular.
ASMR Becomes America's favorite Relaxation Hack
ASMR provided people with much-needed relaxation during the chaotic and unpredictable pandemic era. People looked for ways to reduce their stress due to mental health triggers that grew by almost 25%, according to research published by the World Health Organization in 2022.
With social media at their disposal, people, especially the younger generations, turned to ASMRtists to reduce lockdown-induced anxiety and depression. These artists captivated the audience by whispering into mics, tapping and scratching against surfaces, and making crisp noises.
The popularity of the content led to a 108.39% rise in ASMR influencer count in the USA between 2021-22, according to affable.ai data. It increased from 2,086 creators in 2020 to 7,129 in 2022. Brands jumped on the bandwagon making ASMRtists part of their influencer campaigns.
But ASMR content is not an untapped territory. ASMR began way before the pandemic in 2010 when the term was first coined. Since then, brands have been experimenting with ASMR marketing and the sensations it can stir in the audience. IKEA's "oddly IKEA" ad went viral in 2017 as it roped in the younger generation with whispers, crackles, ticks, taps, ruffles, and more such sounds made using IKEA products.
In the USA, Michelob Ultra ran a successful campaign. The American beer brand, forayed into Super Bowl advertising in 2019 with an ASMR-styled commercial featuring Zoe Kravitz, who addressed the viewers using gentle whispers, tapping, pouring, and gushing sounds. The ad made headlines and captured the attention of millions of Super Bowl fans as they discussed the sensations triggered by the commercial.
Going by the data, ASMR sponsored posts have increased by almost 76.52% on Instagram between 2020 and 2022. But in terms of absolute numbers non-sponsored ASMR content has equally soared in the last few years.
After Michelob Ultra's ad launch, Twitter exploded with fans discussing the new ad and how it sends tingles down their spine. Many people learned about the phenomenon and started searching for similar content online. Since both brands and creators embraced the ASMR trend, other brands and celebrities also experimented with ASMR triggers.
The same year, Billie Ellish's song "Bad Guy," composed using the same concept, tuned people in through aesthetic visuals and whispering sounds. The fan-edited video of Real Housewives, America's popular reality TV show, surfacing on Twitter further boomed the virality of ASMR videos, catching the attention of reputed brands like Gucci, BlueApron, Givenchy, Liam Hodges, and Louis Vuitton as they shared their advertisements with ASMR themes in 2019.
1. YouTube Tops the Chart in ASMR Content Creation
YouTube is the first platform where ASMR was initially popularized about a decade ago. The first ASMR video was published on YouTube by WhisperingLife ASMR in 2009. People usually preferred long-form ASMRs for sleep and concentration. These videos were 3-4 hours long. Second, being a popular platform for video-based content, content creators have always been active on the platform. Third, when people searched for ASMR on Google, they were directed to YouTube videos.
According to ASMR University data, in 2022, there may be about 500,000 ASMR channels, 500,000 ASMRtists, and 25 million ASMR videos on YouTube.
In the last few years, creators pivoted to TikTok and Instagram to share quick tingles with their audience in bite-sized videos. In an article published by Insider, creators are heavily using TikTok to churn viral ASMR videos in multiple niches. Currently, #ASMR has over 132.75 billion views on TikTok and 14.48 million posts on Instagram, which suggests that what started as a long-form video trend has shifted to bite-sized content.
"ASMR has become increasingly popular on Instagram due to the platform's focus on visual and audio content. Instagram's video format allows ASMR influencers to showcase their skills in a more immersive and engaging way. Instagram's algorithm also prioritizes video content, making it easier for ASMR creators to reach a wider audience," explains Sam Underwood, Founder, SEA Toolbelt.
Many YouTube content creators share snippets of long-form videos on Instagram and TikTok to drive traffic to their channels.
2. Mouthwatering Sounds of ASMR Food Influencers
What started as South Korea's viral Mukbang phenomenon — an audiovisual broadcast of eating large quantities of food — has found a place among the American audience. You can find many ASMR food influencers eating on camera while making loud chewing sounds. Watching people eat builds a communal experience among the audience, diminishing the sense of loneliness when watching people eat on social media.
"That is why some of the most popular ASMR involve food and eating. People indulge in sitting and watching someone eat and talk about whatever comes to mind, which is similar to eating while talking to your best friend. The feelings of loneliness can fade with the right sounds,” says Chad Price, CEO, Life Grows Green, explaining how food ASMR can create a feeling of trust and friendship among people.
According to affable.ai's research, food and beverages has become the top product category in the ASMR niche, with influencers publishing 22.41k posts between 2020-2022.
It includes videos of simply cutting and opening packages or cooking food online. Cooking influencers deliberately slam and cut their food in uncanny ways to make satisfying noises that capture the audience's interest. Similarly, kitchen restocking and unpacking ASMR triggers have become widely popular as the sounds of tearing into packaging soothe the mind.
A Canadian confectionery company, Reese captured millions of views by sharing an ASMR feature-length film. The brand hired five popular ASMR YouTube influencers with more than a million subscribers to feature in the movie and target their followers. The movie successfully retained the audience's attention for over 90 minutes while generating massive brand awareness.
Likewise, BlueApron's "ASMR cooking sessions" YouTube videos are an excellent example of collaborating with food ASMR influencers to create sensation-stirring content. The American D2C company contacted ASMR creators on YouTube to create soft-spoken, visually triggering cooking videos. Featuring the brand's meal kit in the videos created awareness for their services while making them more memorable.
3. Calming Effects of Beauty ASMR Influencers
Beauty is the second most popular niche among ASMR influencers, followed by lifestyle, fashion and accessories, and cleaning. These creators use tapping and splashing sounds to engage the audience, providing useful information like skincare routine tips, easy makeup tutorials, and more. Well-known beauty and skincare companies like Milk Makeup, Neutrogena, and Bliss have fostered millions of views for their products by leveraging ASMR TikTok creator marketing. Brands have conducted product demonstrations by focusing on the sounds of opening bottles, tapping a makeup brush and spraying a facial mist.
affable.ai data displays a significant number of content pieces created in the beauty niche by ASMR creators, counting up to 3,448 posts between 2020-2022.
"It's something people like to watch over and over. That's why it's actually brilliant for advertisers because people are going to watch it over and over, and the way the TikTok algorithm works is when people rewatch it, it's going to keep boosting that video," said Layal Assi, TikTok creator and aesthetician in a statement.
Even the men's grooming industry too is stepping up to engage the male audience with the help of audiovisual sensations. For example, Lynx, a men's personal care brand in the USA, released an ASMR video ad highlighting the pleasures of showering and following hygienic practices.
4. Power of ASMR influencers in Fashion and Lifestyle Sector
Witnessing the success of ASMR beauty influencers, various fashion, cleaning, and lifestyle brands have skillfully used ASMRtists to reach an untapped audience. From luxury brands like Gucci, and Coach to consumer brands like Scotch-Brite have been running ASMR influencer marketing to stir pleasurable feelings in their audience, encouraging them to buy the products.
Gucci's #24hourace campaign invited ASMRtists on Instagram to create audio-visual content around their Tennis Ace Sneakers, garnering thousands of fan likes and views.
According to the affable.ai data, roughly about 9k posts were published on Instagram between 2020 and 2022 in the above niche.
5. Gen Z and millennials tune into ASMR for companionship content
The ever-growing popularity of ASMR content must be attributed to the obsession of Gen Zs and millennials with such videos. affable.ai influencer platform's data reveals that 34.61% of millennials (aged 26-32 years) and 31.13% of Gen Zers (aged 19-25 years) follow ASMR content in the States. The interest and fascination of Gen Zers and millennials with ASMR have grown manifold over the years as they engage with such videos to achieve:
1. Mental health and self-care: ASMR is often associated with self-care and mindfulness, with many ASMR videos focusing on promoting relaxation, sleep, and stress relief. Gen Z and millennials, who prioritize mental health and self-care, view ASMR as a tool for enhancing their well-being and caring for their mental health.
2. Digital connectivity: ASMR is a digital phenomenon, with most content being shared and consumed online through social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Gen Z and millennials, who have grown up in the digital age, are accustomed to seeking and consuming content online, and ASMR provides a novel form of digital sensory experience.
3. Sensory stimulation: ASMR triggers, such as gentle whispers, soft tapping, and crinkling sounds, can create pleasurable tingling sensations that some individuals find enjoyable and relaxing. The younger generations, known for their openness to new experiences and sensory exploration, use ASMR to engage their senses in a unique and immersive way.
4. Community and Connection: ASMR has a robust online community, with fans and creators sharing a common interest in sensory experiences and relaxation. ASMR can effectively fulfill the younger generation's desire for community and connection, especially in the digital realm.
Leveraging ASMR in the marketing world
The exponential growth of the ASMR makes it apparent that it is an effective way for marketers to advertise their products on social media. By tapping into the potential and expertise of ASMR professionals, brands can persuade their customers to buy their products or services.
"ASMR content can effectively sell products or services, especially those related to relaxation, self-care, and sleep aids. ASMR content creates positive associations and emotional connections with the advertised product or service, which can lead to increased brand loyalty and purchase intent among viewers," says Jessica Shee, Manager, iBoysoft.
The first step is to identify if your product or service aligns with ASMR content. Products or services that are visually appealing and trigger the human senses tend to perform better in provoking ASMR responses. For example, Spas, restaurants, etc., are service-based businesses leveraging ASMR as they naturally connect to self-care and relaxation.
Fleshing out the desired outcome from ASMR content can be challenging as most people may find it uncomfortable. At the same time, it can also stir lasting feelings and create a positive association among your target audience. According to Julis Bobak, Content Creator, Home Grounds, "ASMR can effectively sell products or services, but it has to be used appropriately. If this technique isn't relevant to the brand or product, this can come across as disingenuous and cause audiences to disengage."
Here are a few ways you can approach ASMR influencer marketing for your brand:
1. Identify brand-relevant ASMR Influencers
Find popular ASMR influencers whose content aligns with your brand and collaborate with them to create sensory-appealing content that entices your customers to try out your products. Trust influencers on how they want to represent your brand in front of their followers to maximize the campaign's effectiveness.
Influencer marketing platforms like affable.ai simplify finding brand-relevant ASMR creators by providing performance data for over 7 million profiles. Marketers can easily vet influencers based on their impact and effectiveness, audience engagement, content quality, brand mentions, and follower growth. The end-to-end influencer marketing platform allows you to identify and reach out to the creators who can best represent your brand on social media, implement campaign strategies, and measure success.
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2. Sponsor ASMR Videos on social media
Work with ASMR influencers to create sponsored videos and live streams featuring product reviews and descriptions while unboxing, unpacking, or stocking your product. It can include using ASMR triggers like gentle whispers, tapping, scratching, or other sensory experiences, along with promoting your product or service in a subtle and non-intrusive manner.
3. Ask customers for user-generated ASMR Content
Encourage your audience to create and share their ASMR-inspired content related to your product. You can host contests, challenges, or campaigns encouraging users to create their own ASMR videos, stories, or experiences using your product or brand and share them on social media using a branded hashtag or tag your brand's account. #TikTokchallenge is a great place to begin.
Top 10 ASMR influencers on Instagram generating the highest engagement rates
1. Kellie Atkinson (@kellie_atkinson, 493K followers)
Kellie Atkinson is a popular content creator from the USA who creates ASMR videos centered around restocking, meal prep, and organizing. She has an impressive 9.28% engagement rate and primarily reaches a female audience who occupies 84% of her follower space. Kellie has collaborated with major brands like Lunchables, Dr. Pepper, and Starbucks Coffee.
2. Jocie (@jociebasmr, 251k followers)
Jocie is a renowned beauty influencer from the US, specializing in ASMR beauty content. Her content is well-received by the audience, as she generated a 9.67% engagement rate. Her collaborations with brands such as Rare Beauty and Glossier make her a standout in the industry. Jocie has an estimated reach of 50.37k and impressions of 75.55k.
3. Cristhian Mol (@cmolasmr, 165K followers)
Cristhian Mol is a Mexican ASMR influencer with an engagement rate of 2.85%, whose calming and satisfying content appeals to a predominantly Spanish-speaking audience. At least 79.03% of his followers are mostly 21 years and above from Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina. Cristhian has collaborated with popular brands like Coca-Cola, Bath & Body Works, and Roos.
4. Zina (@ziinuul, 84.2k followers)
Zina is a Turkish influencer known for her captivating ASMR content in the food, beauty, and lifestyle niches. She has an engagement rate of over 5.98% and has collaborated with brands such as Luno Home, Laura, and Dream Scrub, with 38% of her content being branded. According to affable.ai, Zina’s estimated reach and estimated impressions are 16.84k and 25.27k, respectively.
5. Zeitgeist (@asmrzeitgeist, 36.9K followers)
ASMRzeitgeist is a well-known ASMR influencer whose videos are loved by audiences for their soothing sounds and visuals. He has a diverse audience of 42% male and 57% female followers from the United States, Brazil, and Mexico, and generates an impressive 7.47% engagement rate.
6. Ridha Anwari (@raf.asmr, 22.4k followers)
Ridha Anwari is a popular Indonesian influencer who creates ASMR content centered around food, with an engagement rate of about 2.75%. He has a significant following in Indonesia, Turkey, and India, with a predominantly male audience. With 46.15% of his followers aged between 19-25 years, Ridha is an ideal choice for brands targeting younger audiences.
7. Quang Tran (@qtgang.asmr, 21.5k followers)
Quang Tran is a Vietnamese-American influencer who has gained 21.5k followers and almost 5.33% engagement rate through most for his unique style of ASMR eating videos. Besides the United States, his followers are from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, with 70.98% of them being female.
8. Jess (@jessjessasmr_ , 13.6k followers)
Jess is an ASMR beauty influencer who shares her expertise on various beauty-related topics, including makeup application techniques and skincare routines. She has an engagement rate of over 2.13%. Almost 88% of Jess’s content is branded, providing her followers with valuable tips and advice. She has collaborated with popular brands like Bath and Body Works, The Ordinary, and Vaseline US. With a predominantly female following, Jess's audience is mainly from the United States.
9. Den Lamden (@deniszenasmr, 3,741 followers)
Den Lamden creates ASMR content that captivates and soothes viewers, with an engagement rate of 9.77%. He experiments with new techniques to create enjoyable content and has an estimated reach of 748 and 1.12k impressions, indicating a sizable audience.
10. Kin (@kintanumari, 3,074 followers)
Kin is an Indonesian influencer content creator who uses social media to share beauty ASMR-related content. Her profile drives a 3.91% engagement rate. Around 84.6% of her followers are based in Indonesia, of which 75.78% are above 21 years of age. With 79% of branded content on her page, she collaborated with KYND Beauty, The Geal official, The Bath Box, and more.
ASMR influencer marketing is set to become one of the hottest trends of 2023. People stream ASMR or oddly satisfying content on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to relieve stress, allowing brands to position their products and services as stress busters. The younger generation, in particular, seeks such content for entertainment and to relieve their anxiety.
Additionally, marketers advertise brands through ASMR to make their content more memorable, shareable, and viral. Leveraging influencers in the space will help marketers cut content production costs and create tingling content on a budget.
ASMR content, however, can quickly become uncomfortable for the audience if not appropriately produced. Michelob Ultra's Super Bowl ad went viral, but it needed to be better received by most fans. While some found the ad strangely erotic, a few mentioned they couldn't stand it. To avoid this for your brand, determine if your product or service fits the ASMR trend. Second, partner with influencers who understand your product and can highlight your USP in the videos.
Building a trust-driven relationship with influencers and allowing them creative freedom ensures the content aligns with the brand’s message and product.
Check out our latest Q1 reports for more amazing trends that took off in 2023!