Store of the Future   //   December 22, 2023

More platforms are helping influencers make wish lists for fans

This holiday season, fans are checking their favorite creators off their lists. 

It may sound counterintuitive, but a new trend shows Twitch streamers and YouTube personalities are receiving lavish presents from fans — and in turn helping brands generate additional revenue. The concept is nothing new — for years, online personalities have shared their Amazon wish lists for followers who want to treat them. 

But now, dedicated influencer-created wish lists are becoming more popular, usually featured in their bios. The idea is to replace cash tips, which have been a popular way for fans to support their favorite creators on sites like Twitch and YouTube, with more private transactions.

One platform facilitating this influencer gifting is Throne, which launched in 2021 and now has over 350,000 creators with wish lists that have 600 brands to choose from. According to Throne, this helps create more private transactions — and give fans more control over what their cash is used for. Some of the gift options include crowdfunding for specific products needed for content creation, ranging from high-tech gadgets to gourmet snacks. The way Throne works is that it allows digital creators to create and embed a wishlist of hundreds of products into their feed. From there, their fans can purchase the gifts which are then fulfilled directly by the brand — as they would a typical order — through Throne’s Shopify integration.

Another competitor is YouPay, also a wishlist provider that launched in 2020. YouPay now features thousands of brands. All of these platforms purport to be more secure than Venmo or other peer-to-peer payment apps, while also allowing fans to send personalized gifts without the exchange of home addresses. 

Throne co-founder Heiner Stinner told Modern Retail the idea for the wish list was borne out of watching streamers engage with fans firsthand. “My co-founders and I aren’t creators ourselves, but we’re big Twitch viewers,” Stinner said. “One thing we saw is people sending donations, like money or subscriptions, is a big thing.” He added that the trend is deeply-rooted in Twitch culture, but has also been emerging on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. He likened the act to giving cash to a subway performer for entertaining while people wait. “We wanted to give them a way to have a say in what’s happening to the money.”  

Corporate gifting platform Goody recently got in on the trend, by partnering with Throne to offer the platform more product listings. The expansion of Throne’s gift catalog helped add trendy brands like Therabody, Levain Bakery and Malin + Goetz skincare. Throne expects this holiday season to accelerate sales revenue, thanks to thousands of social creators monetizing their followings.

Nicholas Teddy, vp of growth at Goody, said the trend can be perceived as strange for those outside the streaming world. “Normally, you think of gifts as something you give friends and family,” Teddy said. 

“The surprising fact is that this market exists and is actually growing,” he said. But Teddy pointed to data showing this growing phenomenon of fan generosity could also be an opportunity for brands to add another stream of revenue to their DTC site. According to recent Goody data, Teddy said that fans are on average spending more on gifts for their favorite digital creator — $50 to $60 — than they spend on orders for their own friends and family, usually between $40 and $50. “From our end, I’ve seen everything from luxury fragrances from brands like Versace to AirPods and Nest thermostats,” Teddy said.

Snacks are indeed a big creator gifting trend on Goody and Throne’s joint catalogs. Much of this is to do with the popularity of Twitch players snacking during live video gaming streams. 

This phenomenon is bringing in a substantial number of orders for the Dirty Cookie, a direct-to-consumer company known for its shot glass-shaped cookies that launched in 2014. The company joined Throne as a brand partner earlier this year, and has been bringing in about $5,000 to $7,000 worth of orders a month through wish list orders. From the brand’s side, Throne takes a percentage of each sale. (Throne did not disclose its exact commission structure for brands, but Stinner confirmed the company takes “a healthy commission” from each transaction.)

“I was surprised to see all the purchases coming in, because I had signed up thinking why not,” Dirty Cookie founder Shahira Marei told Modern Retail. “We’re a very Instagrammable product so that helps too.” 

The added revenue is a welcome boost, Marei said, as the online brand has been trying to diversify its channels since customer acquisition became expensive following Apple’s iOS updates. Marei said her company cut back significantly on paid social ads in the past two years. “So we’re trying to get creative,” Shahira said, and Twitch streaming in particular is an area she wants to continue looking into for generating brand awareness. She noted that video appearances are proving to be a big organic pull for the brand; Most recently, Dirty Cookie saw boosts in sales after preparing on Shark Tank and Good Morning America. 

While the concept is mainly to generate revenue for brands through digital gifting, Throne says there is also an after-effect of creators indirectly promoting their new goods while thanking fans for them. Stinner said, “the way we position ourselves is less of a sales channel, and more of a marketing play.” This differs from traditional influencer marketing that’s facilitated through an agency, albeit it’s not a full replacement to those partnerships. “Our proposal is that the creator finds your brand, puts it on their wish list that’s advertised to their fans,” Stinner said. 

Marei said Dirty Cookie hasn’t seen a big impact from creators posting about its products, but said it’s a welcome bonus for exposing more people to the company’s baked goods. “It’s great to have influencers and gamers requesting our products, then posting about us to say ‘thank you,’’ she said.