There are an estimated 190 million online shoppers in India. As per a report by Avendus Capital, this burgeoning class of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are being serviced by more than 600 D2C brands and the addressable market size of this industry will be USD 100 billion by 2025.
As internet-first brands, these businesses have to be agile about social media and build digital-first relationships with their new-age customers.
Fortunately, today, a young D2C brand, even with limited resources, can employ influencer marketing to penetrate the market and capture the consumer base.
Influencers are people with thousands, sometimes millions of followers on social media. By collaborating with them, a D2C brand can promote their product or service to the influencer’s followers. These recommendations are considered more authentic than traditional marketing efforts because influencers are seen as real people who are endorsing a product only after using it themselves.
For a new D2C brand, here are the five ways to make influencer marketing work for their business:
Make Customer the Influencer
Often an overlooked source of marketing, a brand’s first influencers are its direct consumers. A brand should consider a customer’s purchase journey and build mechanisms that incentivize the customer to spread word about the product and drop video testimonials about their experience. Specific campaigns to celebrate the top customers through meet-and-greets and special events can translate into branding and long-term customer loyalty.
The early customers are also the single most important block for building initial sales traction on marketplaces. Their ratings and reviews can influence a new customer’s buying behaviour. The purchase journey should have nudges along the way so that customers leave a review of their experience.
Generate Organic Content
Nano- and micro-influencers with 5,000-10,000 followers make excellent partners for a brand at the beginning of its journey, when the marketing budget is limited and each rupee spent must be made to count. Even though their own reach is limited, such influencers are great from the point of view of generating organic content. The brand itself may be better placed to utilize such user generated content and promote it through its own social media channels.
Thrive in the Niche
D2C brands, by their very definition, exist as niche categories. Customized beauty products such as Vedix, protein bars with clean ingredients and millet based ready to eat need a different marketing strategy than mainstream products. For a D2C brand, it is essential to have a brand story that engages the core target audience. The brand’s marketing campaigns should reflect who the customers are and who they want to be which can sustain the business now and in future.
For such business, it makes sense to find and collaborate with niche influencers who resonate with the brand’s philosophy and can deliver an effective campaign rather than working with influencers with a larger follower base.
Avenues Beyond Social Media
A new customer is more likely to purchase a product if the recommendation comes from someone they know and admire rather than an advertisement or a generic influencer. For a new product, breaking into a niche category, this may mean going beyond Instagram and Facebook and targeting WhatsApp groups dedicated towards the lifestyle that the product supports.
For example, if the product in question are compression socks that improve blood flow during running, the business should consider sending products for trials to the members of various running groups in a city and request them to leave reviews on the group.
As D2C brands are picking up steam, big time celebrities too are engaging with them. But the only way such endorsement will feel authentic is if there is a connection between the person and the brand ethos. For example, Deepika Padukone’s endorsement of Oziva is different from her endorsements for Adidas or Levi’s.
A D2C brand looking for a celebrity influencer should look for someone who exemplifies the brand’s ethos. In fact, it is a better strategy to partner with a lesser-known influencer who has more in common with the brand than with a bigger celebrity who is not relevant for the brand.
Influencer marketing gives D2C brands a tremendous opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. Consumers definitely connect better and are more likely to purchase when they see real people with relatable content. But the success of the campaign depends on striking the right chord with the audience and choosing the right influencer for the brand.
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