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How SMBs can leverage celebrities in the era of digital and disruption

Since mega influencers are expensive, macro and micro influencers who have less than 10,000 followers with high engagement levels can be considered as they reflect trust, credibility, authenticity and value for money.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
May 18, 2019, 10.41 AM IST
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BCCL
ranbir kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor is used by Asian Paints to enhance brand appeal and Godrej had used Aamir Khan . But these big brands can afford the big stars. Small businesses can look at the second and third rung actors and sports personalities.
By Animesh Mishra

Brands signing celebrities as an ambassador is age-old and has proved to be effective ammunition in marketing. In the current era of disruption and the advent of new channels and diversified consumer behaviour, the marketing strategy needs to factor people’s time and attention. There is an inherent belief that endorsements provide a higher degree of recall. The genesis of this belief stems from the star stuck Indian diaspora, whether they are film stars, cricketers, You-tubers, social media stars, serial actors, political figures, wealthy businessmen etc.

Some of the iconic brands of the world like Nike, Adidas have signed on celebrities, but that doesn’t limit the usage to big brands alone. In today’s digital age, the different dimensions of celebrities as ambassadors, spokesperson, motivators, equity carriers, influencers and literally the face of the brand have made it easier to incorporate them as part of marketing strategy irrespective of the size of the business. Ironically, the inclusion of celebrities is perceived to be hugely expensive and not advisable for every business. Wrong?

Today, brands must consider celebrities as their own brand ambassadors who recommend their brand freely without any monetary implication. These are passionate fans and they derive immense satisfaction by engaging with the brand and getting acknowledged by the brand. The task simply is to convert a regular user into a brand ambassador. Which means if the user is loyal and they love the brand then, effort should be on to elevate them to become an influencer for the brand. If the audience believes that a person promoting a brand is not paid for it, then they are more likely to believe them. This kind of word-of- mouth marketing works wonders. The current environment is best suited to use celebrities in different ways and brands can leverage them to maximise their bang for the buck. Let’s understand which is the most effective endorsement strategy in today’s scenario.

Social media has become the game changer and has provided the impetus to the concept of influencer marketing. Based on research, 80% of the customers believe all information provided by social media influencers on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. 60% of the consumers make their purchase decisions after considering the information provided by top influencers in the country. Their respective pages have drawn millions of followers and brands are lining up to recruit them to strengthen their online presence. According to Reardon “Influencer marketing is the new word-of-mouth, but scalable—and cost-effective,”. “SMBs don’t have the resources to market one-at-a-time, so influencer marketing makes a lot of sense—communicate to a large group who share a common interest through a mutual thought leader, and you’ll see a much higher conversion rate.”

Here are some examples of brands collaborating with influencers. Nykaa tied up with comedian Rohan Joshi to promote beauty products and it worked well as it was disruptive enough to attract attention. Craftsvilla used 20 women influencers to create content and it had overwhelming engagement. Prajakta Koliwa, the You-Tuber, tied up with Yatra.com to create content about travel.

A great marketing plan would factor celebrities during new product launch, new brand positioning, repositioning, sustenance and resurrection. The mode of dissemination of communication involving the celebrity can take place through many channels and often it’s the right mix of channels that can provide maximum impact and recall. For instance, the new mobile phone brands as part of their new product launch, have roped in Bollywood and
cricket stars and the ads appear in TV and digital channels. Similarly, Ranbir Kapoor is used by Asian Paints to enhance brand appeal. Sometime ago Godrej had used Aamir Khan to revive their brand. But these are big brands and they can afford the big stars. Small businesses or startups can look at the second and third rung actors and sports personalities. When we look at the middle-class population the soap actors are hugely popular and there lies a great opportunity to sign them at a fraction of the cost and manage a decent level of recall.

Since mega influencers are expensive, macro and micro influencers who have less than 10,000 followers with high engagement levels can be considered as they reflect trust, credibility, authenticity and value for money.

Going forward brand ambassadors will expand from mainstream celebrities to influencers and in India where youth is in the driver’s seat, influencer marketing can serve the purpose very well. With new channels coming up, the engagement levels are undergoing change to keep pace with the audience. The craft lies in creating different kinds of disruption involving the influencers to arrest eyeballs. The brands who are witty enough to have a crack at it are definitely going to have a strong brand perception. In today’s fragmented world, brands can opine for using different celebrities across different channels or using a single celebrity across channels. Both the approaches could be right depending on the resources and objectives.

(Animesh Misra is a leading Digital Marketer, Blockchain enthusiast, speaks on Brand Management and tweets at @ANIMESH2009).
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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