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Avani Jain

Asia Next — The Mega-Trending INFLUENCERS: Hyper...Beasting the Brands!

June '22

From ancient times until a decade ago — BRANDS had to bet on a “CHOSEN ONE” to get their message across the entire spectrum of its target audience. Reason? Celebrity Endorsement is an expensive endeavor that limited the marketing team's ability to deploy an army of “INFLUENCE”. Well, not anymore!

Over the past decade, from Celebrity endorsements, brands seamlessly switched to the more trending Influencer Marketing. And this shift has been overwhelming. To gauge a better understanding of the magnitude of this, let’s take a closer look at the Global Influencer Market.

The Global Influencer Market

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the global influencer market soared from US$1.7 Billion in 2016 to US$13.8 Billion in 2021. It is expected to hit US$16.4 Billion in 2022.

Source — Influencer Marketing Hub

This can be attributed to the growing popularity of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. but the game-changer was the shocks and the aftershocks of the pandemic. With people limited to their homes and the increased screen time, social media was bound to be more effective than any other medium, and so, that’s where is industry migrated!

In our article — Asia Next — HypeBeast-ing your Sales! Trending Now, we talk about the 3 mantras to make your product stick among this new-age audience, i.e.,

  • Building Power Centers of Influence
  • Video/Visual is the new way of Consumption
  • Bizzare is the new “Trending”

And this sticks! Influencers are effectively impacting the audience’s purchasing decisions. Brands have realized this and are now allocating a greater portion of their budget to onboard and tap the right Influencers. Let’s take a look at the story of the brand that reached where no brand went before!

Source — https://gfycat.com/

“Less is more!” — Daniel Wellington & “Influencers” on the Horizon

4700% growth in just two years! No, it’s not a “myth” or aspiration. It’s what Daniel Wellington achieved with a strategy that was just surfacing: Influencer Marketing!

Over a decade ago, Filip Tysander with only US$15,000 in his pocket launched Daniel Wellington. With almost no budget to spend on social media advertising, as was the trend at that time, he decided to adopt a radical approach. Recognizing that his modern minimalist luxurious-styled watches appealed to a younger audience and social media played a major role in their decision-making process, Filip decided to go with the “Influencers” (a term not even coined at that time). He researched the accounts that aligned with the target audience, sent a free watch to create a post in a natural setting, and offered a unique discount code to each influencer to track the results of this effort.

Source — Instagram

What was the result? People happily accepted this offer and the campaign continued to multiply with trendsetters jumping on the opportunity to represent DW watches. It not only cost less than traditional advertising but brought in millions of new customers.

But there is more!

Daniel Wellington’s approach to tapping customers gave rise to “Influencer Marketing” — a trend that transformed the advertising and brand communication to a point where the process of storytelling shifted from a “BRAND” telling what it is to consumers telling each other what it is! But there is more to it.

It also shows how the market has trickled down, from Mega-Influencers or Celebrities to micro-and nano-influencers. Along with high engagement rates and a lower spending budget, this also means that many niches can be simultaneously targeted. While the principles remain constant worldwide,

Asia is a place where the INFLUENCE of INFLUENCERS is undeniable — Let’s explore why?

Asia: The Skyrocketing Digital Penetration

Digital penetration is reaching new heights in Asia. With constantly declining smartphone prices and improvements in digital infrastructure, the increasing connectivity among online audiences is skyrocketing. And with the added effects of the pandemic, consumers have shifted to online venues for shopping, entertainment, and conversations.

According to Statista, in 2021, the internet penetration rate in Asia reached over 64 percent (more than double the internet penetration rate in Asia in 2010).

A huge surge was observed in social media platforms received, and with that many social commerce platforms such as — Meesho, GlowRoad, Evermos, etc. also boomed in the landscape.

Why is Influencer Marketing an important DISTRIBUTION stage in Asia?

Celebrity endorsements have been ruling the Asian landscape…forever. Virat Kohli, Indian Cricket, has a following of 195 Million on Instagram; Xie Na is known as the Queen of Weibo in China; Tran Thanh, the Vietnamese TV host, has a following of 17.7 million on Facebook- and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Source — Instagram, Facebook,Weibo

People in Asia have also gone to the extent of building temples for their beloved celebrities.

Source — PressWire18

According to The Global State of Digital 2022 Report by Datareportal, We Are Social, and HootSuite, the percentage of internet users who follow influencers on Social Media is higher in many Asian countries than the worldwide average. Here is a list of a few:

Percentage of Internet Users Aged 16 to 64 who follow influencers on Social Media. Source: Datareportal, We Are Social, HootSuite

The popularity of influencers is undeniable, but why are these Influencers extremely powerful, especially in Asia? Here are a few specific reasons:

  • Customized Content for the Mobile-first Audience
    Asia’s mobile-first audience picks up more content from social media feeds than from desktop browsing. This makes social media platforms and influencers more powerful when it comes to branding.
Source — VSGIF.com
  • Locally Adapted Content and Message delivery
    The internet penetration is quite high but it is still in its nascent stages. In many regions of Asia, the move to even 4G is quite behind. This is where content creators have cracked the code. By producing content tailored to various channels, keeping in mind the speed of the internet, influencers make life easier for their audience.
  • The Collectivist Society needs Emotional Touch
    The majority of the Asian countries score low on the Individualism parameter according to Hofstede Insights.

Asian societies are collectivist in nature. People give preference to personal relationships and respond well to content with an emotional touch.

For example, In Thailand, known as the “Land of smiles”, this ad has been viewed more than 110 Million times!

This “Unsung Hero” ad tells the story of a man making small acts of kindness to the people around him and in time his contributions eventually make a difference. The ad which nobody could guess till the very end is from Thai Life Insurance. This is very relatable and instills a “feel-good emotion” in the viewer, probably why no one can just ignore it and change channels or scroll away!

This is what brands have tried to tap — the emotions of consumers. The influencers just took it one step forward.

Influencers connect to the audience and curate their content and feed according to the comments and reactions of their audience. They share everything with their followers — keeping next to no distance which builds a level of trust and loyalty in the audience — a feeling of “the influencer is listening to us”. So, when they start ‘recommending’ a certain game that they play, or a product from a brand they use — people are naturally drawn.

Asia and Beyond: The “Influence” of INFLUENCER MARKETING

The post-pandemic, GenZ & Millennial audience has shifted, embraced, and entirely submerged into social media. This consumer group is inherently erratic and doesn’t consume content in the same way as their predecessors. The mobile-first social media addict audience understands advertisements and is unlikely to even watch content if it isn’t coming from a trusted source.

And with a massive population, diverse cultural backgrounds, and consumer behaviors, the marketing campaigns require as must customization as do the offerings. This makes influencers a cost-effective and personalized medium to reach the target audience. This shift & awareness requires a personalized approach, not just in Asia, but everywhere and has given rise to a new-age marketing approach — WHICH IS HERE TO STAY!

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Rocket Capital is a VC fund focusing on New Media Technology start-ups globally. We invest in pre-Series A, Series A & B companies and help founders scale in Asia.

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