• Harsha Razdan, Partner |

Gen Z Influencer marketing has never been as big as it is right now. Today social media platforms have propelled the ordinary Gen Z youth to a spotlight that simply could not have been actualised elsewhere. And India is no exception! The last year or so has seen an explosion, as companies are now approaching the new Gen Z Indian Influencers across various product categories – be it apparel, homecare, personal care or food and beverages.

In India, influencers have managed to garner astonishing view counts and follower records, by way of their presence on social media apps and promotions and alliances with startups and small businesses. Be it posting skits or content about fashion on their social media, their appeal is that they are accessible and relatable, which has been the go-to bandwagon method of promotion for many years. Influencers form a rapport with their followers, and so when they promote a certain product or a service by talking about it in a quick video or even just by snapping a photo of it, it is more than an endorsement - it is a recommendation from a trusted advocate. It is this dynamic that works so well for companies extending brand deals.

A study from the Digital Marketing Institute reports1 that 70 per cent of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities and 40per cent of users of a leading microblogging site have reported made a purchase at the recommendation of a tweet alone. Even more impressively, the study demonstrates that influencers created a 5.2x increase in purchase intent when users were exposed to brand and influencer tweets compared to 2.7x when just shown brand tweets.

India is a very content-driven market and relies heavily on social media/media for latest trends in fashion and lifestyle. Onboarding an influencer is almost like having a personal shopper. Leading e-commerce platforms have been banking heavily on influencer programmes. It’s a win-win for both, as influencers can receive commissions from sales that they promote while simultaneously the platform sales are also ticking. However, one of the most daunting tasks for firms opting for influencer marketing could be to find which influencer would suit their brand the most in order to strike a deal. Follower and view counts are not enough. Here are some questions for companies to consider: Do they represent the company’s brand well? Do they have a problem with fake followers? Do they have enough content engagement? Additionally, because of the sheer saturation of the influencer market, the popularity of certain figures ebbs and flows. It is also imperative for influencers to create content that is genuinely interesting and innovative to have the right level of engagement.

While there are certain risks, influencer marketing seems set for a bright future with its gaining prominence year on year. With D2C brands now gaining prominence, a number of consumer companies are working on an ‘influencer-first’ strategy through various online social channels. To make the most of the current scenario, companies must not discount the opportunity that influencer marketing has to offer. This fresh and mounting wave of social media marketing can resonate well with the younger generation as they enter adulthood and take on the economy.

With the era of traditional marketing with billboards and one-way communication dipping, influencer marketing has an incredible growth trajectory. Social media exposure is on the rise and brands want to connect with customers with relevant content to influence their perspectives and shore up their brand reputation. It is an opportune time for Indian retailers to consider extending a hand to the Gen Z influencers, and gain competitive advantage to capture the youth market.