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Move Over Kardashians: The Growing Clout of Indian Social Media Influencers

Move Over Kardashians: The Growing Clout of Indian Social Media Influencers

  • Indian influencers are setting trends and influencing consumer behavior — be it in fashion, lifestyle, travel, food or technology.

This is the age of the Influencers. Yes, they are a thing. A big thing. If you heard of the Kardashians, you have heard of the Influencers. But did you hear of Diipa Khosla?

Indian Influencers are a big deal as well. The West may have its Kardashians, Jenners, Jake Pauls and Markipliers, but Indians, too, claiming nearly 17.5 percent of the world’s population, are at the helm of social media success. Indian influencers are quite the rave with their very relatable, authentic and attractive content, sharing a special relationship with their audience. They are setting trends and influencing consumer behavior — be it in fashion, lifestyle, travel, food or technology.

Influencers may be regarded as the newest kind of celebrities the world has known, but with an element of ‘relatability’ that even famous and A-list celebrities lack. Influencers are classified by the number of followers, the type of content they produce and the level of influence they exercise. Ranging from Mega influencers, celebrities like movie stars, sports personalities and musicians with a following of over one million to Micro and Nano Influencers who are not as famous but have a substantial following on account of their specialized knowledge, to bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers, social media is abuzz with content ready to be lapped up.

Thanks to collaborations with popular commercial brands, sponsorships, commissions for blogging about products and services “influencing” makes a very viable and profitable vocation. 

Diipa Khosla. Top photo, Khosla, an Instagram sensation with 1.1 million followers.

Diipa Khosla is an Instagram sensation with 1.1 million followers who swear by her fashion, travel, lifestyle and beauty narratives. She was named Elle India’s influencer of the year in 2019. Delhi born, and Amsterdam and London bred Diipa was studying to be a lawyer when she decided to work for the IM Agency in Amsterdam, one of Europe’s largest influencer agencies. 

Quickly realizing how scant the Indian representation was and how powerful social media could be, she jumped in and made quite the splash. Socially conscious and aware of the strength of her influence, Diipa has such a powerful presence in the social media world that she is a part of ‘Post for Change,’ a UNICEF India initiative. She also works with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

Shreyam Ranjan, a biotechnology student from Minnesota, is an admirer of Diipa. Turning the spotlight on the impact of Influencers in shaping customer choices, Shreyam says, “Every time I go shopping, Diipa’s style ideas and tips are always at the back of my mind.”

Another Indian Influencer making waves is Aashna Shroff, the Cosmopolitan magazine’s Most Engaging Influencer of 2019. Her Instagram tagline — ‘Made in India’ — is testimony to her Indian roots. With a 763,000 following on Instagram and over 178,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel ‘Snob Journal,’ she has a whole generation of followers lapping up her fashion and lifestyle blogs. Her ‘Learning Yao Women’s Rapunzel-like hair Secret’ has fetched over 3.7 million views on YouTube. 

Graduating from London School of Fashion, Aashna started off on her journey with her Facebook online store ‘The Snob Shop’ and quickly moved on to fashion blogs that catapulted her to fame. In a 2018 interview with Beer Biceps, a YouTube channel, she talked of her humble family upbringing and the sense of maturity that came with it. She has already endorsed big league brands like Lux, Mac Cosmetic, Pantene, Maybelline, Este Lauder and Gucci. Republic World, an Indian news outlet, estimates her net worth at Rs. 37 crores (almost $5 million).

Aashna Shroff, the Cosmopolitan magazine’s Most Engaging Influencer of 2019.

Wider Reach Than Celebrities

With their highly interactive social engagements, talking about things that real people can actually relate to in a language that they understand, these influencers have built a degree of ‘trust’ with their audience that traditional celebrities are simply unable to command. 

A study by ‘Think with Google,’ a Google tool for information found that 70 percent of YouTube subscribers identify more with their online stars than traditional celebrities and 4 in 10 millennials find it easier to connect with their favorite influencers than even their friends.

Komal Ghirnikar, a college senior from Seattle, for instance, actively follows Hemal Patel, @hamelpatel_, and Ankita Debray, @ankita.creates, on Instagram because she likes how they incorporate both western and Indian looks, influencing her to include more aspects of her Indian culture to her everyday fashion and style. “They have made me feel connected to my Indian heritage because they are also second-generation Indians,” she says.

Talking about things that real people can actually relate to in a language that they understand, these influencers have built a degree of ‘trust’ with their audience that traditional celebrities are simply unable to command.

Leveraging this connection, trust and the personal relationship that creators are building with the younger generation, marketers, too, are roping them in to sell their products. A survey conducted by Matter Communications, a Brand Elevation Agency found 61% consumers, across generations are more likely to trust recommendations from a friend, family member or an influencer and 82% either purchased or researched a product an influencer posted about as against famous celebrities.

Vinita Navale, the owner and designer at ‘Callista by Vinita’ who follows fashion influencers like India-born Masoom Minawala on Instagram, also uses the services of many others to promote her own brand. “It’s important for me to see who is capable of presenting my product the way I, as a creator envision it,” she says describing her criterion for choosing her endorser. 

Masoom Minawala.

Masoom Minawala, with 618,000 followers on Instagram has harvested her fashion blogging glory to build a fashion portal, Style Fiesta, of which she is the CEO.  “I was driving traffic to the website through my blog, converting my readers into customers,” she told Your Story. Minawala’s work is all about what women can do and achieve making her a huge favorite among girls.

Aakriti Rana is a graphic designer and a blogger whose videos on fashion, travel and beauty have garnered her a massive following of 661,000 on Instagram alone. Only 29 years old, she is one of the richest Indian influencers. ‘Trending Celebs Now,’ a website that names the world’s most popular celebrities, approximated her net worth at $1-$5 million. She started her fashion blog in 2014 and has since diversified her content, travel blogs forming a big part of it. 

See Also

Constant Innovation

With the digital media constantly evolving and trends becoming obsolete faster than the blink of an eye, influencers constantly need to innovate and reconstruct their content.

Dolly Singh @spill_the_sass produces very popular Facebook videos and spoofs. She has 860,000 followers on Instagram. With a self-confessed ‘I make funny videos for a living’ tagline, she is just that — funny and affable with a style sense everyone wants to emulate. Her hilarious and refreshing iDiva videos with Kusha Kapilla centered around liberated women propelled her to overnight stardom.

Food bloggers have also come up strong garnering huge followers. It is no longer just about a recipe from a book but also the thrill of visual gratification. Even famous chefs, understanding the reach of social media have turned to Instagram and Facebook. Ranveer Brar, one of India’s most reputed chefs has a 915, 000 following on Instagram — from the young millennials to their parents. 

Ashwitha Shetty, from Dayton NJ is a mother of two who loves to see Ranveer’sposts and is often inspired to try his recipes. His food is great, no doubt, but it is his interaction with the audience that makes them believe they can cook a restaurant quality dish sitting at home. 

Archana Doshi is an Indian engineer living in Canada whose love for cooking birthed her food blog ‘Archana’s Kitchen’ and has cooked with celebrity chefs like Vikas Khanna. On Instagram alone she has 311,000 followers giving professionals chefs a run for their money. 

Indian and South Asian social media influencers and bloggers are certainly a force to reckon with. It is the familiarity of Indian culture and identity they provide that is attractive to the Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat devoted generations, living in or outside India.

Ridhi Parmar, a 23-year old from New York City says it best — “Seeing the Indian and South Asian influencers represent my culture and do it exactly the way I would is awesome. And I love that about them!”

Nupur Bhatnagar is a lawyer by training, an entrepreneur and a storyteller. She is rationalist and an art enthusiast who is fascinated by history. She loves to read and watch historical dramas — sometimes even sees herself in them.  Nupur lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

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View Comments (3)
  • In the post-pandemic cocooned world, e-commerce becoming more necessary, social influencers are going to dictate the path that fashion and society will take in the time to come.

  • Well articulated, Nupur Bhatnagar. Earlier, huge billboards on the roadside, advertising agents going from door to door were used to reach out to the prospective clients and improve sales. With Covid now having put paid to a large number of outdoor activities, influencers who can reach you inside your homes will be the new normal. A timely write-up on the emergence of a new breed of people who will dictate lifestyle in the times to come.

  • Very well written article. Especially for someone like me who had no idea about Indian influencers. Now I want to follow some of them to get closer to trends and fashion in India! And I must admit I used to follow the Kardashians in my pre-kids years?

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