From dispensing wisdom on baking the fluffiest of banana breads, work from home fashion to decluttering workspaces, influencers are the new power centres of the online world. Stuck at home for months on end due to the coronavirus pandemic, Indian consumers have turned to YouTube videos and Instagram reels for help with everyday cooking, home décor, beauty and fashion tips. This has led to a huge spike in the popularity of digital content creators also known as influencers. Apart from notching up impressive follower counts and engagement online, these creators are finding more and more brands queueing up to collaborate with them on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube in areas of lifestyle, fashion, cooking and fitness.
Data from a report by television viewership monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) and data measurement firm Nielsen revealed that during the lockdown there was an increase in social networking, gaming and viewing of OTT content. Users spent a lot of time on their smartphones consuming various kinds of content. With this shift, a new category of social media influencers have come into being. From home chefs to fashion stylists and fitness experts, these influencers have clout in a range of segments.
India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-150 million a year, as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion. With more Indians going online, this number is expected to rise. There has been also been a sizeable increase in ecommerce over the pandemic. Since influencers help influence opinions, brands are hoping to piggyback on them to increase sales. Amazon has launched an Amazon Influencer Program to reach Indian shoppers in Tier II and Tier III cities. Rival Myntra, has an app, similar to Instagram Reels, for influencers to highlight and market their different looks.
Amazon and Myntra owner Flipkart Group alone reported $3.4 billion in sales in the first four days of the Diwali festival period, exceeding last year’s $3 billion sales. 60 per cent of Amazon’s new customers came from tier-two and three cities. According to reports, influencers in its programme curated content in five languages and sold an average of 80 per cent more units.
Some of the popular creators in India riding this wave include chef Pooja Dhingra ( 7.7m followers), comedian Rohan Joshi (406k) who collaborate with companies such as Mondelēz International. Then, there is self-taught baker Shivesh Bhatia who runs a YouTube channel, with over 3,00,000 subscribers, and an Instagram account where he regularly posts recipes and baking tips and hacks. There are lifestyle and décor influencers such as Mumbai-based blogger Rukmini Ray Kadam runs Trumatter, one of the most popular decor blogs around and Rohina Anand Khira, the creative director of Mumbai-based home decor brand AA Living. Khira posts inspirations and quick tips on doing up living spaces. Delhi-based journalist Satshya creates quick and easy recipes that she shares via her Instagram account and online blog.
As with any fad, the rise in the popularity of influencers has also led to some malpractices. The advertising industry watchdog, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is working on creating social media advertising guidelines so that the lines between influencer marketing and advertising do not get blurred and consumers are not duped.