Influencers Fly High In The Indian Marketplace

With the explosion of the influencer community in India, we study how India is serving as a fertile market & helping brands explore newer horizons

Who would have thought a few years back that his best friend or the next-door neighbor would or probably his school teacher would turn out to be an icon in the online space? Hardly any! But very interestingly, most of us are surrounded by such public figures or influencers that are glittering in the digital space. 

India, as a market, is embracing this new reality of digital and social media marketing and offering a fertile land of opportunities for the influencer community to augment their growth even further. The way this market has exploded in the past years has awakened brands and agencies to explore newer horizons and push their products in markets they could never reach before. 

Influencers, on the other hand, are gripping their audiences tight, penetrating deeper & delivering meaningful content to make sure their brand collaborations stand relevant, foster relatability and ensure the maximum impact. 

Giving credence to a report by AdLift, India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-150 million a year, as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion. From an online marketing perspective, this is a sizeable amount, and the number is expected to go up as more Indians go online with cheap data and affordable smartphones. 

“Brands are all about trust. In the early days, people trusted an ad but that’s eroded over a period of time with the Indian consumer being bombarded with marketing messages all around them. At such a time they care about listening to folks they can trust. A person becomes an influencer when they have some interesting content to offer and users start trusting these influencers for those topics. Influencer marketing stands out because of this trust these influencers enjoy among users,” assesses Koo’s Co-Founder, Mayank Bidawatka.

Indian Brands Embed Influencers In Marketing Mix

Businesses today are cognizant of the power of social media. Influencer marketing, in particular, is becoming pivotal to their marketing mix, as they see influencers driving and impacting consumers’ buying and spending decisions. For them, influencer marketing is everything that a modern-day campaign needs to be.

“Indian brands have been actively executing influencer campaigns since 2015. However, since 2019, a major part of the digital marketing spend is on influencer marketing. As per our estimates, some of the brands are already spending almost 30-35% of their digital budgets on influencer marketing, which is likely to reach 50% by next FY,” shares Pratik Gour, Co-Founder and Head of Business Development and Campaign Management, Footprynt

Shuchi Sethi, India Lead, AnyTag also agrees that influencer marketing is a significant part of the digital media plan these days. “The blue-chip accounts have started spending close to about 25% of the total marketing budgets on digital, influencer & content marketing. Influencer marketing has evolved significantly not just with the use of influencer channels as the major talking medium but also using influencers as brand advocates and using their content piece as a brand asset. The overall synergy and integration has changed, giving a considerable rise in the Influencer marketing in the overall marketing mix.”

“Promoting a product or service through a social media celebrity has become a compulsory ritual,” believes Anunay Sood, Content Creator, who accepts that the tremendous growth of influencer marketing in India is because of brands’ inclination towards social media. 

Leveraging The Synergies

India is an emerging market with a dense population, hence, giving ample opportunity to the brands to cater to a higher number of people. Influencers are no more limited to Tier 1 and metro cities now. Digitalization in small pockets has led to the rise of nano and regional influencers, giving brands more opportunity to market themselves through these influencers.

Giving a more first-hand perspective, Bidawatka points that 90% of India doesn’t speak English and will move towards platforms that offer deep and immersive language experiences. “Koo does exactly that. Other social media giants don’t offer deep language experiences. They largely cater to the English-speaking Indians. We want to cater to a much larger audience. Creating on Koo means creating for the English AND the Indian regional audiences. This results in higher followership and reaction % for influencers. That’s their biggest dopamine,” he states.

Influencers, on the other hand, are reciprocating to this lucrative market through their unique ways. They are delving into topical yet meaningful ideas, that stand relevant to the times and audiences at the same time. “They are using different content formats- from reels to videos and static content. There also has been a significant rise in vernacular content. The use of trending topics and relatable content is a prominent trend,” adds Sethi.

Gour recalls his favorite campaign that utilized influencers' potential and popularity the best. "The rise of Marvel movies can be attributed to the usage of Indian influencers, from Ashish Chanchlani to Prajkta Koli. They created content that worked well with the internet generation. There were 100s of micro-influencers as well which helped to create a cult-like following of Marvel movies,” he mentions. 

Tapping The Trends

Nielsen studies show that home-bound consumers have led to a 60% increase in the amount of video content watched globally. The number of live video sessions conducted on social media platforms by content creators also hiked in 2020. 

Given the traction and numbers that the internet is driving, it is no surprise that most marketers already have social media in their 2021’s marketing playbook. As popularity, demand, and marketing spend increase for influencer marketing, experts predict that collaborations within the same genre and cross-category collabs will emerge to be a new trend. 

Rise of nano influencers, long-term partnerships, performance-based deals, cause marketing, are also some of the few trends that will continue to dominate the influencer fraternity.

“With the growing popularity of TikTok and the introduction of Instagram Reels, it’s expected to be more collaborative and creative than ever,” highlights Sood. “Vlogs will continue to be the king of trends. It is because they’re more authentic and in the moment.  It keeps viewers more engaged and a stronger authenticity makes people feel more human and part of the action,” he adds. 

Influencer marketing is going to be a game-changer in the times to come. 2020 literally gave a platform to several new content creators and brands also did not shy away from leveraging their skills and popularity to their own benefit. The Indian market conditions are also as paying. We see the sun shining bright on the influencer community in India!