YouTube influencers, including Bhuvan Bam (BB ki Vines), Mumbiker Nikhil, Prajakta Koli (MostlySane) and Sejal Kumar, are becoming mini TV channels and a brand partnership with them doesn't look like a blatant brand promotion or an ad
New Delhi: It’s hard to miss try-on clothing hauls, product reviews or new make-up look videos on YouTube, where a bunch of young content creators have created a huge fan base. Sejal Kumar, a Delhi-based YouTube influencer with 883,000 subscribers, in a video titled How I get ready for a shoot takes her followers through her getting-ready routine, while subtly talking about Veet electric trimmer and how it helps her save last-minute beauty parlour trips. The video is a paid collaboration with the brand’s owner, Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd.
Brands across categories are partnering with YouTube influencers to engage with young consumers, who spend a lot of time watching videos. For the record, the average time spent by an Indian watching videos online has jumped to 52 minutes a day in 2018 from a mere 2 minutes in 2012, says a report by media agency Zenith. This has given rise to a new set of digital influencers, who are changing the way brands interact with consumers online.
“I believe YouTube is the second most influential digital platform after Facebook in India. As an increasing number of millennials are spending time online on YouTube and Instagram, videos are becoming a key way to reach out to them by brands across categories," said Prashant Puri, co-founder and chief executive of digital marketing agency AdLift.
Any content creator with more than 10,000 to over a million subscribers is considered an influencer on YouTube. The cost of brand partnership is in line with the subscriber base of the YouTube influencer and can range from ₹ 12,000 to ₹ 1 lakh per video, apart from additional cost for social media posts.
Not only do brands get more impactful returns and engagement through YouTubers, the promotional cost is low as opposed to mainstream advertising.
For instance, Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s cosmetic brand, Lakmé, works with beauty gurus online due to the high level of audience engagement in the beauty category. Many YouTubers review products and create make-up looks using various Lakme products.
“In this digital age, they (YouTubers) have become very popular with consumers—they are make-up junkies who not only have a great understanding of beauty but are also very relatable," said a spokesperson for Hindustan Unilever. “Many beauty bloggers are strong advocates of Lakmé and are very excited by the new trend-setting innovations that we put out every year."
Similarly, retail fashion brand Lifestyle collaborates with YouTube channels such as Coupling! run by Scherezade Shroff and Vaibhav Talwar. The retailer also collaborates with Sejal Kumar and Aashna Shroff to create videos. The company lets these stars shop at their stores and then show them to their followers through a haul video (a video in which someone shows and describes products they have purchased).
Shruti Arjun Anand focuses on fashion, lifestyle and beauty, has 2.4 million followers on her YouTube channel.
“YouTubers with their loyal and committed audience are an important part of our marketing mix and haul videos have a positive impact on our online and offline sales," said Srinivasa Rao, senior vice president, marketing, Lifestyle International.
Godrej Consumer Products’ hair-care brand, BBlunt, promoted by Bollywood celebrities such as Kareena Kapoor Khan and Dia Mirza, relies heavily on YouTube influencers. The brand has worked extensively with fashion and lifestyle YouTubers such as Shroff, Debasree Banerjee and Aashna Shroff, who have reviewed styling tools, hair-colour and hair-care range.
“Recommendations are big key drivers and consumers rely heavily on blogger reviews and content, which is available on digital platforms," said Thomas Dawes, creative and digital director at Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. “Also, consumer questions are answered much more effectively through a digital medium, the effectiveness of which can also be accurately tracked."
Prajakta Koli’s ‘MostlySane’ YouTube channel has 2.5 million subscribers.
Apart from videos on YouTube, the influencer marketing campaigns are usually done as bundled deals, where YouTubers post promotional material on their social media handles such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, increasing the reach manifold.
“YouTubers are becoming mini TV channels and the brand partnership with them will get bigger as their content is real and doesn’t look like a blatant brand promotion or an ad. It will definitely be the next big thing in influencer marketing," said Vijay Subramaniam, co-chief executive at entertainment marketplace Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions.
The real big opportunity for brands would be in regional language content, which is set to explode. Over 275 million internet users speak an Indian language and this is going to swell to about 550 million within the next three years.
“Therefore, marketers should invest in Hindi and other regional language content, including videos and social media posts, to tap consumers from smaller towns," Puri said. “YouTubers, who are creating content in local languages, can be a crucial link for brands to leverage the big India opportunity in future."
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