Australian Wool Innovation has been using overseas Instagram influencers as a marketing tactic to promote the brand of Australian wool.
This was up until COVID-19 dramatically impacted the wool market and in combination with a reduced levy price, slashed the wool marketing and research body's income.
AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said despite these partnerships being paused, the selected influencers had been a "sales weapon".
"They help with fibre awareness and brand awareness by profiling the fibre to create some demand," Mr McCullough said.
"It's a very standard sales technique of a product that's deployed by businesses these days that are looking for interesting ways to profile their products."
In its recent Beyond the Bale publication, AWI said as it was an image-driven social media platform, Instagram offered a modern opportunity for AWI's marketing arm The Woolmark Company to influence consumers' purchase intent.
"As well as having its own Instagram channel, The Woolmark Company partners with other key Instagram channels, selected due to their established credibility and large audiences," AWI said.
"The images and posts that these Instagram influencers post onto their channels can be very impactful on their fans, and through this partnership are being used to increase consumer awareness and purchasing of wool products."
- Improve labour costs to open up Australian wool market
- 3DLook to make online shopping easier, reducing clothing waste
- PETA's new anti-wool campaign 'won't be taken seriously'
Mr McCullough said AWI measured the success of the influencers' posts by assessing how many clicks and comments came as a result
"Make no mistake, influencers are a sales weapon, particularly in a time like this when we're in lockdown so there's a lot of digital influencing," he said.
He said AWI scrutinised 10-15 influencers at a time and then selected the most relevant, but noted that some would often be too expensive.
"We certainly couldn't afford the Kardashians," he said.
See below three influencers that AWI partnered with last year.
Holly Johnson @missholldoll - 301,000 followers
Holly Johnson is a Washington native and nature lover who posts about hiking and backpacking.
Ms Johnson has said on Instagram that she had always been a "big fan of Merino wool".
"It's breathable, moisture-wicking, odour resistant, environmentally-friendly, etc," she said.
"The list goes on with this 100 per cent natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre."
Lauren Singer @trashisfortossers - 383,000 followers
Lauren Singer is the chief executive and founder of Package Free Shop.
Ms Singer advocates for natural fibres through her completely plastic-free lifestyle.
"The look is aesthetically aligned with my style and the materials are aligned with my values," she said.
"Over the next few months I'll be featuring a range of brands that use Merino wool."
Ryan Robinson @handsomerobinson - 124,000 followers
Ryan Robinson is a professional highliner, adventure athlete, photographer and three-time American Ninja Warrior finalist.
Mr Robinson had posted to Instagram saying Australian wool was a perfect fit for the high performance space.
Mr McCullough said he hoped these partnerships could continue when things returned to normal but said he expected many factors to have a longstanding impact on AWI's long-term funding and he didn't have a crystal ball to see when things would get better.
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Farmonline newsletter.