Influencers are becoming the darling of brands, especially this festive season, with companies willing to spend more on influencer marketing.
Industry players suggest that the growth influencer marketing category is seeing this year in terms of ad spends during the festive period is in the range of 30-40 percent.
Starting in August, the Indian festive season is a 4-month period marked by celebrations, ceremonies and shopping. Major festivals like Durga Puja, Navratri and Diwali fall during this period.
According to Kunal Kishore, Co-Founder, and chief operating officer, ClanConnect, an influencer marketing platform, “Last year, brands had spent slightly above Rs 400 crore during the festive season on influencer marketing. This is expected to cross Rs 550 crore this year. We are seeing the pandemic pushing brands to focus on digital outreach to attract consumers.”
For example, Kritika Khurana, who has a million followers on her Instagram account, thatbohogirl, had collaborated with online platform Myntra for its Big Fashion Festival.
Similarly, Sakshi Sindhwani, who has a follower base of over 289,000 for her Instagram account, stylemeupwithsakshi, promoted the festive collection of brand Alaya by creating a short video on Instagram.
Rohit Sakunia, chief business officer, Art-E Media, a digital marketing firm, said that brands that have approached his agency so far are spending a lot more on influencers as compared to the last festive period.
“During the last festive period, we had brands spending between Rs 6-7 lakh each. This year, each brand that is coming to us is spending Rs 15 lakh, which is even going to Rs 20 lakh for some brands. These spends are for Durga Puja, Navratri and Diwali,” he said.
Hitarth Dadia, head of monetization, NOFILTR, an influencer marketing agency, said that while influencer marketing was an explored avenue last year also, this year due to the lockdown and offline marketing not being the obvious choice anymore brands have shifted more towards influencer marketing.
He added that even legacy brands are now exploring influencer marketing during the festive season.No star power
But is it celebrity influencers that brands are looking for to market their products?
Interestingly, no. “While celebrity influencers, and I am talking about big TV celebrities, have followers, their content engagement is not that high. Brands go to celebrity influencers just for their face value. On the other hand, when brands are focussing on content, they go to content creators,” said Gautam Madhavan, founder and CEO, MAD Influence, an influencer-marketing firm.
Kishore said that currently 30 percent ad spends are going to celebrities and the remaining is for non-celebrity influencers or subject matter experts.
“This is the season of efficiencies. Every brand is looking for a strong reach of their product. A middle-grade celebrity influencer will charge upwards of Rs 15 lakh for a video and can get 500,000 views and 150,000 likes for a video post. For 15 lakh, I can go to 15-16 (non-celebrity) influencers who will have upwards of 800,000 to a million followers. Now compare the reach," said Sakunia.
Influencers are charging more
Some of the celebrity influencers are charging less this year, said Madhavan. But many non-celebrity influencers are charging 10-15 percent more, compared to last year.
According to Nicholas Boehnlein, Co-Founder and COO, Aiisma, a consumer-to- business data marketplace, a strong factor currently reflecting the price is travel time, shoot location and COVID-19 prevention measurements.
“Campaigns currently requiring travelling, location setup and COVID-19 prevention measurements pay strong premiums for influencers,” he added.
However, Dadia pointed out that non-celebrity influencers are still "much more cost effective and they don't come with a lot of caveat."
Brands that are banking on influencers
Which are the brands that are investing in influencers?
If you have been grooving to the newly launched Guru Randhawa song called Naach Meri Raani, know that a lot went into making the song viral. The creators of the song had a lot of help from influencers to create the buzz.
MAD Influence that handles influencer marketing for T-Series India covered three dance shows with top influencers.
“We generated close to 50 million views in three days. We have covered three dance shows with top influencers on YouTube and created 10 million impressions in three days and close to 5 million views. We promoted the song on Instagram Reels and registered 15-20 million impressions. And now all this is boosting listenership on music OTTs,” said Madhavan.
Currently, there are a handful of songs to listen to and he is confident that the song will automatically find more traction during the Diwali period, especially in the North zone. “What is interesting is that the song is picking up in the western market, which is a difficult one to crack. But we are getting strong response from the west and that's because we chose influencers from west to market the song.”
Neel Gogia, co-founder, IPLIX, an influencer marketing platform, said that brands like Haldiram and Mother Dairy are approaching them, keeping in mind the gifting aspect during Diwali.
“Categories like consumer durables and FMCG are seeing a jump currently. For these categories, what we can do is that we can send products to influencers’ homes. So, the entire product journey can be showed in a one-and-a-half-minute video. And a YouTube video also helps in getting the search value up,” added Sakunia.
Rahul Bhattacharya, Co-founder and Director (Strategy), Fun2, a video-sharing platform, pointed out another category that is banking on influencers currently.
“One of our technology partners spoke about how they’re tying up with influencers to sell some exclusive gaming machines. This is typically the time when they reach out to the community of gamers. Gaming is a close-knit community and a niche category which consumes high-end specs on a hardware. Therefore, a recommendation from an influential gamer can go a long way in driving up sales,” he said.
Brands love Insta
Gogia said that Instagram is the most preferred platform as it is cost-effective. “YouTube is a long-form content, so it is slightly more on the expensive side. So, first preference is Instagram.”