Surprising Insights from Big Lots’ Thriving Influencer Marketing Program

In the ever-evolving world of retail marketing, it’s often the unexpected brands that deliver the most inspiring and effective influencer campaigns.

Big Lots, the discount home goods retailer, is one such brand that has defied expectations and found tremendous success in leveraging influencer partnerships to drive brand awareness, engagement, and sales.

We sat down with Josh Chaney, the Public Relations and Influencer Marketing Lead at Big Lots, to go behind the scenes of their impressive influencer program and uncover the key strategies and insights that have propelled their efforts.

Full disclosure: Big Lots is an Ignite Social Media client and we work together on the influencer program.

Watch the video below. If you’d rather read a summary, we’ve provided one just after the video embed below. 

The Scale and Scope of Big Lots’ Influencer Program

As Josh explained, Big Lots’ influencer program is relatively new, but it has already achieved impressive results. In 2023, the brand worked with over 100 influencers, generating an astounding 168 million true view impressions and boasting an engagement rate of over 9.5%.

This level of activity is truly remarkable, with the brand running influencer campaigns in 44 out of the 52 weeks of the year. For 2024, Big Lots has taken their influencer strategy to the next level by organizing their program around key product sets and seasonally relevant moments.

They’ve also added an “always-on” ambassador program, which allows them to highlight limited-time deals and opportunities in a more agile, real-time fashion.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing

Recognizing the importance of quantifying the impact of their influencer efforts, Big Lots has implemented a comprehensive measurement strategy.

They closely track traditional KPIs like impressions, engagement rates, and sentiment, but they also take a comparative approach to gauge the performance against their other marketing channels.

By running head-to-head tests between influencer-driven content and their normal social ads, Big Lots is able to measure the incremental return on investment from influencer content and understand the true impact of their influencer partnerships.

They also track metrics like cost per mill, cost per click, and orders placed, as well as conversion rates, to paint a complete picture of the effectiveness of their influencer program.   The results have been extremely positive, with Josh noting that the influencer content has consistently outperformed their traditionally created social ads. This data-driven approach has been instrumental in illustrating the incredible value that influencers can provide and in continuing to grow the program.


Highlighting Big Lots’ Unique Value Proposition

At the heart of Big Lots’ influencer strategy is a clear and compelling brand positioning – they are “America’s original discount home store,” laser-focused on delivering off-price value to their customers. This unique value proposition comes to life through partnerships with a diverse array of influencers, from deal-seekers to home decor experts.

The influencers showcase Big Lots’ extensive furniture and home goods offerings, highlighting the quality and affordability of the brand’s products. By refreshing living spaces, designing dorm rooms, and decorating for the holidays, the influencers are able to surprise and delight their audiences with the level of style and value that Big Lots can provide.

Importantly, the brand also taps into the “treasure hunt” mentality that many shoppers associate with discount retail, leveraging influencers to showcase the thrill of uncovering fantastic bargains. This content, which Josh describes as “Bargains to Brag About,” resonates strongly with both existing and new Big Lots customers.

The Importance of Content Variety and Authenticity

While video content has historically been the best performer for Big Lots’ influencer campaigns, the brand has found success in mixing up their content formats. They’re seeing a resurgence of static imagery performing well in their organic social feeds, and they continue to utilize a diverse array of post types, including in-feed images, stories, reels and TikToks.

Underlying the success of these varied content formats is a steadfast commitment to authenticity. Big Lots empowers their influencers to create content that is true to their individual styles and resonates with their unique audiences. This approach, combined with the brand’s focus on bringing their value proposition to life, has resulted in highly engaging and effective influencer content.

Reaching New Audiences and Shifting Perceptions

One of the most significant benefits of Big Lots’ influencer program has been its ability to reach new and younger audiences. While the brand’s core customer is generally female and 40+, their organic influencer posts have skewed toward the 18-34 age demographic.

This has allowed Big Lots to introduce their brand and offerings to a younger generation of consumers, many of whom may have had outdated perceptions of what shopping at the retailer is like. By showcasing the brand’s stylish, high-quality, and affordable home goods, the influencer content has helped to shift these perceptions and drive broader awareness and consideration.

Importantly, Big Lots has also found success in appealing to their core customer base through influencer partnerships. Home furnishings and decor content, for example, has resonated strongly with the brand’s slightly older demographic, while younger-skewing programs like Back to Campus and Halloween have also performed well.

Unlocking the Potential of Influencer Content

One of the most surprising benefits of Big Lots’ influencer program, as Josh noted, has been the exceptional creative talent of the brand’s partner creators. By giving the influencers the freedom to develop content within clear brand guidelines, Big Lots has been able to unlock a wealth of beautiful, engaging, and highly authentic assets.

Beyond just leveraging this content on the influencers’ own channels, Big Lots has found great success in repurposing the influencer-generated assets across their own website, email marketing, and paid advertising campaigns. This cross-channel approach has helped to amplify the reach and impact of the influencer content, further driving brand awareness, engagement, and conversion.

Additionally, the brand has found tremendous value in closely monitoring the comments and direct messages that come in on the influencers’ posts. These real-time customer reactions provide invaluable insights into how the brand’s offerings are being perceived and the specific products or content that are resonating most.


Big Lots’ influencer marketing program is a strong example of how a well-established retail brand can leverage strategic partnerships to drive significant growth and engagement. By focusing on their unique value proposition, empowering authentic content creation, and continuously measuring and optimizing their efforts, Big Lots has been able to exceed their own expectations and surprise consumers with the quality and style of their offerings.

As marketers continue to navigate the evolving landscape of influencer marketing, the insights gleaned from Big Lots’ success offer a roadmap for brands of all sizes to follow. By approaching influencer partnerships with a data-driven, customer-centric mindset and a willingness to challenge preconceptions, brands can unlock the true power of this dynamic marketing channel.

Ignite Social Media