Social media plays a big role for Indian shoppers: report

A study has found that nearly half of India’s consumers with access to basic Internet feel constantly followed by online advertising, about 13% more than global average


Consulting firm Kantar TNS conducted the study among 70,000 Internet users across 57 countries between June and September. Photo: iStockphoto
Consulting firm Kantar TNS conducted the study among 70,000 Internet users across 57 countries between June and September. Photo: iStockphoto

New Delhi: Indian marketers need to improve the reach and engagement of online advertising among consumers, according to a study by consulting firm Kantar TNS.

The study found that nearly half (47%) of India’s consumers with access to basic Internet feel constantly followed by online advertising, about 13% more than the global average.

The study was conducted among 70,000 Internet users across 57 countries between June and September.

Although 21% of Indian consumers ignore social posts or content from brands, they are big fans of social media. This may offer opportunities to brands to use alternative means to interact with audiences, the study said.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform with 75% of the total respondents, followed by YouTube (64%), Twitter (34%), Instagram (25%) and Snapchat (19%), the study said. “The menace of intrusive and uncontrolled online advertising is ruining the consumer experience in India. There is resistance amongst the consumers,” said Anusheel Shrivastava, executive director at Kantar TNS India.

With the increased engagement on social media, there is also a rise in social trust among Indian consumers, according to the study. More than half (53%) of the online consumers (between the age group of 16 and 24 years) in India trust what people say about brands on the Internet more than official sources such as newspapers, brand websites or television advertisements.

“This rising ‘social trust’ in India is one of the highest seen globally and tells a lot about the challenges in this market. Clearly, millennials are the more influencer-oriented group, trusting bloggers and peers rather than information from brands,” the study said. “The older generation’s influencer network is still primarily friends and family.”

Additionally, the use of social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat has doubled across Asia Pacific region since 2014 as engagement with the highly visual platforms continues to grow, according to the study.

Zoë Lawrence, APAC digital director at Kantar TNS said, “The rise of Instagram and Snapchat highlight how consumers are eagerly adopting visual ways of expressing themselves, as they embrace the ability to capture and share moments. This provides brands with multiple new channels to engage with consumers in a deeper and more effective way.”

Social media and digital advertising agencies agreed that online advertising is evolving with the increased reach and engagement of consumers on social media platforms. “The future of digital advertising in India is through advertisement-funded content. To give an example, The Viral Fever’s popular show Permanent Roommates advertised Ola (cab hailing service) by integrating the brand in the show. Consumers don’t mind that kind of advertising,” said Shamsuddin Jasani, managing director at Dentsu Aegis Network-owned digital agency Isobar India.

Jasani further added that the consumers who are new on social media don’t find the regular advertising intrusive as they are content-starved. “They don’t know the difference between content and advertising. Regular advertising works with such people who are from small towns and cities,” he said.

“Content is king,” said Pratik Gupta, co-founder at the independent digital agency Foxymoron: “If I am serving you the content that appeals to you, you will consume it. Here, the challenge for the digital agencies is to create hard-hitting content and advertising. Since it is easier to measure audiences on digital platforms, the agencies can always find new ways to reach the consumers,” he said.

According to a report titled ‘The Future: now streaming’ by consulting firm KPMG and lobby group Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), digital advertising is expected to touch Rs25,500 crore by 2020 from Rs6010 in 2015, with a shift towards video and mobile advertising on the back of increase in mobile users and improved digital infrastructure.

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