The Business of Love Island

Like millions of others, I could not resist tuning in for Love Island season eight this summer. It may be verging on the ridiculous, and is certainly inconsequential to the wider world, but for one hour every evening I can’t help but be engrossed in mostly fabricated drama between people who are total strangers to me.


I say it is inconsequential to the wider world, but is it really? Of course, the content of Love Island doesn’t have any bearing on politics or world health, but as a business model it is creating waves. None of us are surprised anymore when we hear of ex-contestants signing huge business deals in the wake of their Love Island stint. Top of the earning list from those who’ve spent time on the Island is Molly-Mae Hague, who has reported holding £2,019,369 in reserves across her multiple businesses. When compared with her pre-island income of approximately £31,400 as a ‘social media influencer’, Love Island’s impact on her business success is not to be underestimated. Additionally, according to Wealthify, Molly-Mae can charge an average of £13,647 for a single sponsored instagram post. She is not the only ex-contestant to be charging large sums for sponsored posts - all of the top 10 biggest earners post-Love Island (including Kem Cetinay, Kaz Crossley, Alexandra Cane, and Sam Gowland to name a few) can charge over £2000 for a single sponsored post, many considerably more.


However, in terms of the wider world of business this has a small impact. The real impact of Love Island is in the opportunity it provides fashion and retail brands. As one of just four TV shows in the UK to attract over a million viewers aged 16 to 34 this year, it is a marketing dream. In the past, retailers such as I Saw It First, Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing have been major sponsors of Love Island, but this year the show took the decision to be advertised by eBay, an online marketplace that mainly sells second-hand items. Instead of wearing clothes provided by a fast-fashion sponsor as in previous years, islanders this year could bring their own clothes, and also had their pick of vintage items from eBay chosen by celebrity stylist Amy Bannerman. However, the positive impact of this change is limited. It’s true that eBay reported an increase in surge terms reflective of the clothes worn by the Islanders, searching for these items also brings up adverts from fast fashion brands such as Oh Polly, Asos, PrettyLittleThing and Cider. The extent to which fast-fashion brands were able to capitalise on this year’s Love Island doesn’t end here, these same brands took out lucrative advertising slots during the show’s commercial breaks, and Boohoo even hosted £250 voucher giveaways on twitter at the same time. This use of social media is also part of the appeal of Love Island to brands - creating content on their own social media channels is cheap to make, and Love Island helps to channel viewers to their pages at a specific time every evening. Launchometrics has determined that the Media Impact Value generated by PrettyLittleThing from Love Island-related online content was over double that generated by eBay, despite not being an official sponsor. As Shore Capital analyst Eleonora Dani has said, “the reality is, pre-loved can’t satisfy demand. At the end of the day, you’re just pushing certain trends”. Adam Cochrane, a research analyst at Deutsche Bank, has also remarked that “the acid test will be when these influencers come out…If they all suddenly become brand ambassadors for eBay, then maybe that is fair to say there has been a step change in mentality, that these influencers do not want to be associated with the brands, but there’s no evidence of that so far.” As this year’s ex-contestant Gemma Owen has signed a ‘six-figure deal’ with PrettyLittleThing just weeks after leaving the villa, it’s clear that fast-fashion will continue to profit from Love Island.