VOICES JUG SURAIYA S VAIDHYASUBRAMANIAM LT GEN (RETD) SYED ATA HASNAIN RAVI SHANKAR GAUTAM CHINTAMANI SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 13 2019 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Under the Sphere of Inﬂuence SHUTTERSTOCK.COM From niche, micro, macro to mega, social media influencers of today are helping consumers ‘mould’ decisions. These digital superstars are acing the marketing game and companies are definitely not complaining. THE INDIAN CONSUMER MARKET IS PREDICTED TO GROW FROM $1.5 TRILLION AT PRESENT TO NEARLY $6 TRILLION BY 2030 T INFLUENCER EARNINGS IN THE COUNTRY ACROSS SEGMENTS HAVE RISEN BY A WHOPPING 200 PERCENT INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY, WHICH CURRENTLY STANDS AT $8 BILLION GLOBALLY, IS SAID TO GO UP TO $15 BILLION BY 2022 By SUNITA RAGHU he business of buying and selling in India has new gurus. The country’s consumer market is growing and predicted to expand from $1.5 trillion at present to nearly $6 trillion by 2030, says a World Economic Forum report. It further states that India is poised to be the third-largest consumer market behind only the US and China. The ever-expanding market lends a certain clout to social media influencers who attract digital shoppers to products they endorse. Natasha Daruwala, who is part of marketing agency, Influencer, says, “If a celebrity tells you to buy a certain product, you might take it with a pinch of salt. But when someone, whom you have been following for a long time and trust, recommends a product and tells you in detail about it, chances are that you will buy it.” A trend that started in the West where big bucks promote products, corporates are taking a relook at the con factor. But in India, it is just a few years old. As Natasha puts it, a friendly face you can relate to doling out advice on picking a product—rather than a celebrity doing the same—creates a connect with the consumer. “I loved how you could have a space of your own and since I knew that writing was my calling and being passionate about fashion, blogging was the perfect platform to fuse both my talents.” “My motivation for blogging is basically to donate all the money I earn from it to charity. It is fun as I don’t depend upon it for my livelihood and many friendships stem from it.” In the days of fast-moving apps and a plethora of choices, desire is no longer a streetcar but a digital feast on YouTube and Instagram. Influencer earnings in the country across segments have risen by a whopping 200 percent, say market insiders. Driven by increasing popularity of platforms such as TikTok and ShareChat, advertising spending on social media influencers by brands is rising. What to buy eat, wear, and , read or how to raise kids, keep fit and where to travel—need help with any of these? Turn to an influencer. The influencers of today many of who , trace their roots to blogging, help consumers ‘mould’ decisions. Covering the whole spectrum from niche, micro, macro to Fashion blogger/influencer mega or celebrity influencers and boasting followers in thousands and lakhs, companies and brands have begun to lean heavily on these messiahs to promote their cause. According to Business Insider Intelligence estimates based on Mediakix data, brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing globally by 2022. Vidya Sury recently walked away with the 2017 Orange Flower Award in the Wellness category for Digital Creative Superstars. Take a quick look at her website—vidyasury .com— and you would know why The . site is dedicated to mindfulness. “My audience sees me as one of those positive people and it definitely helped that I’ve been consistent. Where clients are concerned, the desire to learn all the time is a big plus and the they feel that I am good to work with,” smiles the 56-year-old who quit her corporate career in her 30s and while at home discovered blogging. “My motivation for blogging is basically to donate all the money I earn from it to charity I set a . personal target every year,” says Vidya who has a 15k collective social media following. Maintaining six blogs keeps her on her toes. “I mostly focus on mindful living. We need to slow down and smell the roses,” asserts Vidya, who makes `50,000 per month from her blogging venture. “It is fun as I don’t depend on it for my Kavya D’SOUZA Atul MAHARAJ Blogs about food, tech and travel livelihood. But a good many friendships have stemmed from it,” she adds. Actor-comedian-dancer and singer Eddie Cantor famously said that it takes 20 years to make an overnight success. But in the digital world, where each passing hour equals a lifetime, no one has 20 years. Little wonder that more and more influencers today are young and fresh out of college. It helps that they are willing to stick their neck out and try something new. Atul Maharaj, who writes about food, tech and travel, started blogging while still in college as part of a college team project. He loved the exercise so much that he created his own blog, Social Maharaj. With six years of blogging under his belt and being invited to cover restaurants and vehicle launches, Atul has some valuable advice for newbies, “If you have to run at all, run after content, money will willy-nilly come after you.” For this polyglot, it’s all about giving back to the internet. When he locates a particular hotel or a restaurant and writes about it, it is his way of giving back—a lesson that remained stuck in his mind since school when his computer science teacher aired the thought that we take so much for free from the internet and hence should give back as well. Also, he stresses that one needs to be honest. “If I were to Vidya SURY Focuses on mindful living through six blogs give a restaurant a high rating on their insistence and keep doing it, my followers might part ways thinking that this is not what we followed him for.” One of his biggest collaborations has been with Tata Motors where he reviewed a couple of their vehicles. This 28-year-old techie who won the Best Blogger Award from Telangana at the 2017 Indiblogger Annual Awards has been keeping his flock happy with “two fresh posts every week”. Like Atul, fashion blogger and stylist Kavya D’Souza too started early , when in college. A decade-old in the business, the 29-year-old scoffs at the term: ‘influencer’. But maybe that’s because she belongs to the old tribe of bloggers who painstakingly shot pictures on SLR, uploaded a few and had a complete write-up to go with it. “There were no blogs on fashion then. I stumbled on a few international blogs and loved how you could have a space of your own. Writing was my calling and being passionate about fashion, blogging was the perfect platform to fuse both my talents,” says this student of literature. When a brand approached her for the first time, she was stunned at how powerful the platform could be. She says that it’s only in the last few years that brands have begun to understand the marketing potential of bloggers. So, what’s in it for her? “For many years now, my blog which goes by the name of Streakhuefall has been my primary source of income. A few years ago, I opened a salon in Mumbai with the same name. Clients who knew me as a blogger have been coming to this place. I think that’s the best thing to have come out of it. It’s just word-of-mouth publicity and I don’t think there could have been a better organic marketing strategy When people have been . following you for years, they trust you,” says Kavya. Video killed the radio star and Instagram, blogging. Well, not really But it did leave the . bloggers far behind as Instagrammers had no need of the written word. It is the Holy Grail of social influencers today It . attracts more content and naturally more investors than its various counterparts—Facebook and YouTube. Short, pithy captions and emojis accompanied by pictures became the stars and suddenly Instagrammers were the ones to watch out for. Twenty-eight-year-old Janani Asokan, who has flown as cabin “If you have to run at all, run after content, money will willy-nilly come after you. Earlier, there was dependency on celebrities, now thanks to blogging, everybody is creating content.” Turn to page 2
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