The Rise of Fashion and Lifestyle Influencers in India: Shocking or Expected?
We no longer live in a monarchical system, and as millennials and beings of the 21st century, we love to boast of our ability to make individualistic decisions. Yet, suspiciously, there is a vein of suggestion that’s forked its way into our lives, on a conscious and subliminal level. The power of fashion and lifestyle influencers has been growing over the past half-decade and has just been majorly catalysed by the recent lockdowns and COVID restrictions.
With e-commerce being the only feasible mode of purchase during the pandemic, influencers have played a crucial role in maintaining the link between brands and customers.
The popularity of this form of marketing has gained an unearthly amount of momentum. This has drastically increased the demand for fashion and lifestyle influencers. Which in turn has created a wide variety of influencer types. Mainly we have, Mega, Macro, Micro and Nano influencers. As the names suggest, they vary according to the size of their audiences and the larger they are, the more they charge.
Here are some fashion and lifestyle influencer statistics, for context:
- Businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing
- 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
- 65% of marketers and strategists shared that Influencer Marketing has helped increase brand awareness and recall
- 94% of marketers/strategists found influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing.
- 73% of marketers/strategists say they actively engage social influencers as part of their ‘always-on’ strategy
- 70% of marketers/strategists responded “Yes” when asked if “exclusivity with social influencers is better for their brand.”
The Growth of Fashion and Lifestyle Influencers in India
Influencers always existed, even before social media. Trends always catch on when someone in the public eye begins to show favour to a style, product, or lifestyle. The history of Christian Dior shows how Princess Diana acted as an influencer for them before mainstream influencers even existed. Her hairstyle too was emulated by women all over the world. Madhubala’s light blue and ruby costume in Mughal-E-Azam became a staple for Indian women and is now referred to as the ‘anarkali’, a style that exists in most closets today. Sharmila Tagore sported a one-piece swimsuit in An Evening in Paris, and her Filmfare cover featured one of the first-ever bikini shoots in India which paved the way for women across the country.
In the early beginnings of social media influencers in India, they were limited to a sphere of luxury influencers in larger cities like Mumbai and New Delhi. Now we see influencers in every sector, creating content in regional languages to cater to their audiences and the brands that employ them.
So Are Fashion and Lifestyle Influencers an Unexpected Development?
If you really think about it, every single brand that is ‘well-known’ has a face tied to it. Regardless of what the product is, there always seems to be an actor/celebrity endorsing it. Be it LAY’s chips and Ranbir Kapoor, Cadbury and Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Lux soaps or Alia Bhatt and Maybelline. This concept of using those with influence to promote a brand has never been out of the ordinary.
The only difference between social media Influencers is that they don’t need a huge break or movie deal to get the attention that they do. They are solely merit-based, everyday people who are hence, far more relatable to the average consumer. So as the digital age progresses, trends that we have known for very long are simply adapting to the new normal.
Influencer Campaigns That Deserve Some Spotlight
The rise of Indian influencers may not seem to be unexpected, but they certainly don’t work the same way that celebrity ambassadors do. There is a learning curve here, and some brands have truly mastered the platforms and the proficiencies of social media influencers.
The ‘Amazon Influencer Program’ or AIP, is a global programme, which enables influencers to recommend products, on Amazon, to their audiences and earn commissions from sales driven by their recommendations across various social media platforms.
In 2019, Myntra launched ‘Myntra Fashion Superstar’, the first-ever digital fashion influencer talent hunt that went live on the Myntra app. Myntra was no stranger to the world of influencers and the idea that influencers would be the new and best way to market virtually anything. The show raised awareness about the influencer community and empowered fashion enthusiasts in India. And of course, it massively boosted Myntra’s popularity amongst millions of consumers who subscribed to all the influencers on the show.
Becca’s USP is to offer that elusive glow with a swipe of a brush. The brand has always been at the top of the influencer game with their Jaclyn Hill x Becca highlighter sold out instantaneously. They also launched a palette with Chrissy Teigen that seemed to be on every celebrity’s vanity, further increasing their reach. So it was only a matter of time before Nykaa brought them to us in India.
To make sure their landing was successful and perfectly received, they roped in India’s most famous and influential fashion and lifestyle influencers: Debasree Banerjee, Riah Daswani, Shereen Sikka, and Malavika Sitlani. They had these influencers dropping hints for a while before their actual launch, which had Indians ready with their credit cards as soon as they launched. They used the power of influence to their advantage in a seamless and rather clever way.
The Work Behind The Fame
It may be easy to assume that the job of a fashion and lifestyle influencer is an easy, luxurious and glamorous one with tonnes of perks and very little work. But like most jobs, being a fashion and lifestyle influencer can be hard work that requires thick skin and a serious mind for business. We got a glimpse into the life of (sustainability and fashion) influencer Anya Gupta, through an incredibly insightful interview we conducted earlier this year.
“I actually didn’t know that I was going to be going down this path. It’s something that I started in May 2019. I was an avid fast-fashion shopper and I used to shop anywhere between 2-4 times a week. It was during the time when there was a surge in online shopping and everything became so convenient, so cheap; it was hard to say no to that. But, a lot changed in February last year when I lost my dad, I kind of had to rethink all my values. When I started, I didn’t know exactly what I was going for. I just knew that I wanted to add a little more value for my audience through my content.
I did start with fashion and I used to actively look for a lot of small, homegrown businesses, get in touch with them, ask them about their process, and go ahead and partner with them. I was new to all of this and I also started figuring out what is it that I’d like from this, and what is it that I’m not fond of. I didn’t see any value in collaborating with every other brand that popped up. I put a strict guideline for myself as to what it is that I was looking for with any sort of association. I’ve given myself a number of brands I’m going to work within a year so that I don’t go overboard and stay true to a handful of great businesses that I believe in. It all came back to the fact that I wanted to add some value.” – Anya Gupta
Audiences tend to be really perceptive and will sniff out a hoax right away. Being able to create content that aligns with an influencer’s personal values as well as those of their followers is hard work, and requires an immense amount of self-control. It can be very easy to take every brand deal and have a vague content strategy, but with the multiplying number of influencers today, that perhaps will not work.
With the pandemic and all eyes online, we have seen a surge of nano influencers trying to get to the top of the list with lifestyle and fashion content, some even resorting to purchasing followers to get ahead of the game. Idolising the lives of celebrities has always been commonplace in India, and so has, keeping up with trends. So as the world progresses consistently towards a more internet-centric system, so does India. The rise of Indian influencers is not shocking at all, and I would predict that just like Bollywood, the Indian Influencer Community will consistently grow at an unmatched pace.