Celebrities vs. Creators and the Rise of Kols

For many years, the French personal care company L’Oréal has relied on big celebrities to generate engagement and visibility in various markets, including India. Some prominent faces associated with brands include Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, and Sonam Kapoor. However, with the onset of the designer economy and the broadening of the influencer marketing landscape, the cosmetics company fine-tuned its media strategy to balance the tasks among its celebrity ambassadors (focusing on the top funnel). awareness) and influencers (focusing on the middle consideration funnel) in the consumer’s buying journey.

“… In recent years, many brands have turned to influencer marketing and brand promotion as consumers today are increasingly aware of their skin care regimen and of beauty. And these consumers expect these influencers, also beauty experts, for the real link with the products they use, ”explains a spokesperson for L’Oréal India.

The company claims that for its luxury goods, notably Lancôme and Kiehl’s, influencers today play a key role in promoting brand love and brand awareness and are the key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the journey of the luxury consumer.

“The ethics remain the same and we are attentive to our selection of influencers based on their fit with the brand and the product proposition – we have a valuable matching process – influencers must represent the brand responsibly.” , said the spokesperson for the company.

Besides large multinationals, the rise of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands that target primarily digital customers has also created a huge market for influencers who have deep personal equations with their followers and are often much more affordable. for brands than for celebrities.

Experts believe celebrity advertising is the best way to build credibility and visibility quickly, which remains a powerful tool for marketers. However, Karthik Nagarajan, Director of Content, Wavemaker India, and Head of Brand Content, GroupM India, told Storyboard18 that the lockdown was great proof that gen-next’s loyalty is as strong if not stronger with individual creators. than with movie stars or cricketers.

“This is especially true in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Today, a regional YouTuber is likely to attract more traffic when going live than most Bollywood stars for a movie promotion. I think we’re probably at the peak of celebrity advertising value, and 2022-2023 is when the premium will start to drop, ”he notes.

Exploit niche audiences thanks to influencers

Content creators / influencers have a separate space due to the digital ecosystem. One doesn’t feed off of each other, but they reinforce each other, says Prashant Puri, co-founder and CEO of AdLift, a digital marketing agency.

“Promoting the brand through celebrities has always had its place as influencers / content creators have a much smaller audience and a niche following them for a specific vertical industry. Therefore, brands exploit them for a niche audience, ”he explains.

Puri also notes that brands will now be able to measure the impact on sales with the growth of live commerce in India, where influencers and content creators are often seen talking about the product / service that can be bought in time. real.

“Through live commerce, brands will be able to map how influencers are evolving brands and also creating a real impact on sales,” he adds.

The designer economy is getting stronger every day

Vijay Subramaniam, a former in the celebrity management industry, admits that the emergence of digital creators and influencers has widened the brand’s approval cake. Subramaniam, who runs influencer marketing platform Big Bang Social and independent celebrity management agency Collective Artist Network, says his two businesses are booming, ruling out one business eating another. .

“Besides cricketers and movie stars, there is a third pillar of content creators who achieve iconic status. It is the digital economy that has driven the growth of the brand endorsement pie. People have to stop looking at it from a cannibalistic point of view and understand that the whole brand approval pie has gone up, ”he stresses.

Some of the biggest names in the designer economy are Instagram actor and influencer Jannat Zubair Rahmani, YouTuber Bhuvan Bam, fitness enthusiast and content creator Ranveer Allahbadia, Riyaz Aly, Kusha Kapila, Dolly Singh and fashion influencer. Komal Pandey.

However, Subramaniam admits that the nature of celebrity sponsorship deals has changed dramatically, with the deals becoming more and more short-term. Besides the duration, celebrities should also have a social media presence and be required to command a certain degree of bonus.

“For influencer companies, contracts can range from three months to one year, while for big celebrities, instead of entering into multi-year deals, contracts have shrunk from one to two years,” says Subramaniam.

Endorsement activity disrupted by pandemic

Dr. Sandeep Goyal, Chief Mentor, Indian Institute of Human Brands and MD, Rediffusion clearly states that there is no evidence that the top five to ten celebrities have become more affordable or accessible.

However, things could change if the drought in big movie releases occurs, which will reduce the visibility of big stars. In this industry, visibility and performance are paramount. Ranbir Kapoor, for example, has not had of film over the past three years. Fortune is not as dynamic as it was when Covid took hold. There could also be a market correction due to the third wave depending on the scale of the ‘impact on the habit of going to the cinema in general,’ he notes.

As digital becomes the mainstay of brands, the roles played by celebrities and designers can interchange, often complementing each other. While celebrities should work to become more accessible, influencers and content creators will need to become more responsible for the media spending invested in them.


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