Noel D'souza
Feb 08, 2023

Is influencer marketing giving word of mouth a new name?

Industry honchos shed light on how brands are harnessing the power of influencer marketing for new launches and if this shift is overpowering traditional media

Is influencer marketing giving word of mouth a new name?

Influencer marketing has been growing steadily in the country over the last few years. Post the pandemic, we're seeing a different angle to it.


With on-ground events returning, we're seeing a different dimension of influencer marketing. Instead of hosting traditional press events, we're seeing the likes of jewellery shops and restaurants among others calling upon influencers and using their reach to publicise the launches.


And why not? An iCubesWire survey claims that 34% of Indians buy products or services after watching influencers on social media, whereas 18% consider it for future buying.


The reach these influencers hold, coupled with the credibility facet in their respective cohorts, make them an ideal fit to endorse a newly launched product. 


Launching a new product requires touch and feel-aspect. With influencers on board to experiment, use and review, this aspect of a nascent product being tried and tested gets fulfilled through a credible endorser. 


Recently, while BMW unveiled its XM and X5 at its event Joytown, a host of auto influencers were seen vlogging about the car and its offerings. 

Another event that used influencers to their advantage was the Gin Explorers Club festival held in Mumbai at the start of this year, where influencers were sent a PR package by Detales Communications to spread awareness on the on-ground event.  



With word-of-mouth marketing taking a new form of communication through influencer marketing, Campaign India asked agency and brand honchos to shed light on this shift to understand if influencer marketing is overpowering traditional media. 


Are influencers getting a larger share of the AdEx pie?


According to Arrow’s head of marketing, Soumali Chakraborty, brands are banking on influencers for content generation and sales objectives. 


Chakraborty stated, “Influencers have unique ways of understanding the brand guidelines and the key messaging presented to them. Subsequently, their skill of presenting the products interestingly, in turn, covers utilitarian and aspirational aspects of influencer marketing.” 


Zaid Bhamla, director, digital marketing, and innovation, SSIZ International and Beauty Palace, declares that for a brand to maximise reach, an ideal combination of traditional and influencer marketing should be employed. 


“Traditional marketing can reach a wide audience and are useful for building brand awareness and establishing credibility. Whereas, the influencer economy plays a crucial role in gaining the consumer's attention", expressed Bhamla. 


Mehul Gupta, co-founder and CEO, SoCheers, points out that brands will need to adapt to the changing landscape of advertising and marketing in general, which is likely to include increased regulation and scrutiny. 


“Brands will need to be more mindful of the content they promote and the influencers they partner with, and may need to adopt more authentic and transparent practices to maintain their credibility and appeal to consumers”, shared Gupta.


Himanshu Arora, co-founder, Social Panga, states that for new-age brands like Mamaearth, which have been built by leveraging influencer marketing, the spends are on the upswing and expected to grow further. 


Arora noted, “The more there is a ‘need’ for fresh content, the more there will be a requirement for influencers with staggering followership.”


Jaideep Shergill, founding partner, Pitchfork Partners, said that influencer marketing is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% through 2025 and will be worth INR 2,200 crore in India.


He sees a visible trend of spending interest across sectors and also claims that there's a new category looking at using influencers. 


“We have experienced effective ROIs on influencer marketing campaigns. Interestingly, influencer marketing is not limited to consumer brands but B2B brands are also using influencers effectively,” added Shergill.


For Gaurang Menon, CCO, BC Web Wise’s clientele, the split is 50% for influencer marketing versus 50% for other marketing spends. 


“For influencer marketing to have a major chunk of advertising in future, it would need to evolve. Brands are now increasingly looking at ROI through influencer marketing too. Influencers need to carve a niche and really add value to their brands, followers and personality, and not go after everything”, remarked Menon.


Samiksha Mehta, business development manager, Pollen (Zoo Media), seals the deal on influencer marketing by saying, "Influencers are not only affecting the top of the funnel but are also impacting the bottom line, using strategies like coupon codes that can help brands see which influencer can actually influence. With youngsters consuming content from various influencer cohorts (gaming, tech, finance, beauty, etc) - this form of marketing is slowly but steadily starting to eat up a major chunk of the AdEx pie."


Is influencer marketing eating into the traditional marketing pie?


Vipul Talwar, co-founder, Voxxy Media, said, “There has been a paradigm shift in focus across multiple screens with content consumption on personal devices. It is slowly losing its share because of the change in the content consumption habit of users. Today a large part of users are on social media and have their first source of information, news or entertainment on social platforms instead of TV or print.”  

Brands are now focusing on capturing the audience's attention on social platforms through innovative influencer and Content marketing initiatives. 
Talwar shared that content is captured in different formats long form, mid-form, and short form and easily distributed for high impact and engagement. “They can achieve this, through social media while building deeper connections with the audience and via relatable storytelling”, he added. 


Even Menon doesn’t feel traditional media needs to be buried. He commented, “The perception that influencer marketing is overpowering traditional is a misnomer. Traditional forms of advertising are not losing their charm - just like always, they're evolving. A decade back, we were convincing clients to get on to digital. Look where digital is today. Has TV, print and radio advertising lost its charm? I don't think so. Each of them is just serving a different purpose now while co-existing."


On the contrary, Shergill stated, “The shift in attention from traditional to digital media amongst consumers has affected traditional media's effectiveness. The consumer has evolved and is more aware of what they want. Control comes from choosing to follow a particular influencer, and trust and honesty come from relatable and authentic content," he said. 


Marketing investments 


For Arrow, Chakraborty shared that the advertising revenues that are allotted for influencers are less than 10% of overall marketing costs. 


Chakraborty acknowledges that influencer marketing is prominent for D2C (direct-to-consumer brands). She said, “When it comes to brands that have online and offline presents, dealing in products that are beyond impulse purchases needs to focus both on promotions that take place online and offline. The offline channels support the ROI. These channels are traceable to some extent but lack the precision of online conversion tracking to UTM and embedding pixels.”


ASCI's influencer guidelines bring in the credibility factor 


In February 2021, ASCI (The Advertising Standards Council of India) laid down guidelines for influencers.


This brought in transparency by ensuring that an endorsement is solely to create awareness amongst consumers or if it's for commercial gain. 


Chakraborty says that the guidelines have helped them increase visibility with an array of influencers, who showcase the brand’s collection over a while. 


Bhamla believes that by promoting transparency and ethical practices, the codes can help build consumer confidence in influencer marketing and increase its effectiveness as a marketing tool.


Summing it up, Arora accepts that 'trust' is the most crucial component for any brand to be considered during the purchase cycle. "This element of trust cuts through deeper when the product is endorsed by an influencer the consumer follows and views regularly", concluded Arora.

Campaign India

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