Brands pump up spending on influencer marketing this festive season
Assamese fashion influencer Isha Borah’s calendar is blocked for the festive season and a few weeks beyond that, with brands queuing up to engage her services.
“I’ve seen a significant increase in inquiries from brands this year,” says Isha, 32, who recently hit 1.2 million followers on Instagram. About “80% of the brands that have engaged with me in the past want to repeat marketing activities with me,” says the mega influencer, who has collaborated with brands such as Daniel Wellington, TATA CliQ, and Marks and Spencers.
Isha is not alone. There is a whole community of influencers who are increasingly being sought by brands to influence the buying decisions of followers on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Influencer marketing seems to have become the buzzword this festive season, with D2C brands and ecommerce companies investing heavily in this space. Brands in the fashion, lifestyle and beauty segments are especially keen on engaging with influencers.
According to a consumer insights report by Meta, for the 2022 festive season, 80% of Diwali shoppers engaged with influencer-led content on Meta technologies, 53% of Diwali shoppers made discoveries online through influencers, and 56% agreed that public figures/celebrities influence their purchase decisions.
Brands are collaborating innovatively with influencers across genres to grab the audience’s attention with fun catchphrases, clever wordplay, lavish visuals, humour and informative content.
For instance, online education company UpGrad recently collaborated with personal finance influencer Sharan Hegde (Finance with Sharan) to talk about investing in education this Diwali.
Brands are also exploring engagements with virtual influencers. Audio and wearables brand boAt became the first Indian brand to tie up with India’s first meta/virtual influencer named KYRA to launch its neckbands. Through the #FutureOfAudio campaign, boAt collaborated with KYRA to launch its Rockerz 330 and Rockerz 333 ANC neckbands.
Spending on influencers
Influencer marketing platforms estimate that spending by brands on influencers has increased by at least 25-30% in the last one year.
Apaksh Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, One Impression, a global influencer marketing platform, says, “Budgets dedicated by brands towards influencer marketing used to be 10-15% earlier. These have now increased to 25-30% this year.”
One Impression works with over 400 brands and 7 million creators globally.
According to Apaksh, companies in the segments of ecommerce, D2C, FMCG, consumer durables, fintech, and healthtech are investing a lot in influencer marketing.
Aman Sadana, Marketing Manager, boAt, says, “Our influencer marketing spends have been growing on a year-on-year basis as we experiment with newer platforms as well as newer content formats.”
The influencer marketing industry in India is currently valued at Rs 900 crore and is poised to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 25% over the next decade. It is expected to reach Rs 2,200 crore in 2025, according to INCA Influencer Marketing Report 2021.
India has nearly 80 million content creators, including video streamers, influencers, bloggers, creators on OTT platforms, physical product creators, and essentially anyone building a community around their niche.
Evolution of influencer content
Till the lockdown, influencer content primarily consisted of videos showcasing products and they were mostly shot at home. But now there has been an evolution of influencer content.
“Brands are now asking influencers to do store visits. They are adding contests and promos via influencers and issuing unique coupon codes that consumers could use on purchases,” says Ramya Ramachandran, Founder and CEO, Whoppl, an influencer marketing agency which has worked with over 5,000 influencers and creators.
With the growing relevance of the influencer marketing segment, brands have also created dedicated platforms for social and live commerce—as micro-sites or sections on their websites.
For instance, this festive season, Amazon Live is streaming more than 450 hours of cumulative content; over 150 influencer content creators are live streaming through the Amazon Great Indian Festival. Myntra collaborated with leading fashion and beauty creators such as Cipia Artul, Swagata Dev, Akash Chaudhary and others during the festive period to host about 350 live sessions, from the Myntra Studio.
ROI for brands
Influencer marketing is bearing fruit for brands, which are seeing good returns on investment from influencer engagement.
Number of views is one of the metrics of audience engagement. According to fashion influencer Isha, 80% of her reels get over a million views. Other engagement metrics that measure the efficacy of brand campaigns include likes, comments and social sharing.
Vikas Nahar, Founder and CEO of snack brand Happilo, says, “We have seen our (audience) engagement scores go up from 4–6% on average days to 16–18% on days when we have influencer campaigns going on.”
This year, Happilo has allocated 20-25% of its media planning budget towards influencer marketing—4X higher than what was allocated last year.
Content-to-commerce platform Good Glamm Group has been collaborating with influencers to drive engagement for product launches and limited-period offers and to amplify brand messaging.
“Our registered influencer base has grown 100% year on year. Engagement with our brands through influencers has grown by 200% and so has our traffic and revenue through them,” says Sukhleen Aneja, CEO, Good Brands Co, The Good Glamm Group, which has increased spend on influencer marketing by 50% this year.
Beauty and personal care brand Plum attributes a large part of its revenue growth to influencer engagement. “Our dedicated influencer affiliate programme, The Plum List, has also been a major contributor in terms of both reach and performance,” says Shankar Prasad, Founder and CEO, Plum.
Tapping into regional content
Brands are also engaging with regional content creators to improve their reach and create relatable content.
“We saw engagement with vernacular creators grow by 30% year on year and it has become a key part of our influencer marketing approach,” says Dushyanth Jayanty, Vice President, Marketing, Flipkart, which is working with over 500 influencers during the pre-festive/festive period.
How expensive is influencer marketing?
On an average, influencers with 1 million to 2 million followers are charging Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per reel and Rs 1 lakh per post this festive season.
“Influencers know their worth. If they have seen a significant growth in their following and engagement in the last one year, they are quoting commercials for the festive season accordingly. There are some influencers who have increased their commercials by 30-40%,” says Abdul Saud Siddiqui, Alliance and Partnership Manager, Optiminastic Media, an influencer marketing agency.
Barter deals, which were a starting point for influencers in their marketing journey, have now become fewer. In a barter deal, the brand sends the influencer their products free of cost and, in turn, the influencer promotes them on their page.
“Micro and nano influencers are also charging per post now. They have realised that the value of their post or reel is much more than the value of the product they are promoting in most cases,” says Abdul.
However, influencer agencies are of the view that pricing is no longer “senseless” or exorbitant. With the increase in the number of content creators in recent times, influencers are now willing to negotiate with brands based on their performance in the past year and audience engagement metrics.
Edited by Swetha Kannan