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Influencer marketing is now a must-have for corporates: Vijay Subramaniam

The Group CEO & Co-founder of The Collective Artists Network (formerly known as Kwan) talks about the rebranding of the company, new business verticals and more

by Sonam Saini
Published - Apr 20, 2021 8:57 AM  |  4 min read

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Kwan Entertainment, one of India's leading talent management agencies, was last week restructured into The Collective Artists Network, a step aimed at driving the next chapter of the company’s growth.

Speaking to exchange4media on the road ahead after the restructuring, Vijay Subramaniam, Group CEO and Co-founder shared that the company is now pivoting towards three broad pillars--content packaging, influencer commerce, and digital media--and that these verticals will be their next growth drivers.

"Our talent management business is well established. I onboarded seven new partners in the company over the last three years. Today, it is the only entertainment entity run by a management committee of nine people,” he said.

“Now the company has restructured from a holding perspective and the management team has changed. We are now pivoting towards three broad pillars--content packaging, influencer commerce, and digital media-- which will be the next growth drivers of the company. With a new management structure in place and by building on the base created over the last 12 years, we will leapfrog to our next group."

The three verticals have shown great promise and business growth during the pandemic.

"Our social media influencer marketing platform is up and running over the last year. From a digital marketing perspective, it will challenge the status quo, especially now when influencer marketing is not just a feel-good for a corporate company, but a must-have. It has become as important as media buying and creative, so we have pivoted very strongly in the category. Its growth has accelerated during the lockdown," explained Subramaniam. 

According to him, the digital and the content packaging business too saw good growth during the pandemic. “When I talk about my digital business, it's the influencer marketing business that grew because most brands switched to online advertising during the lockdown. We grew nearly 35-40 per cent on a significant basis. That is a massive growth story for us. These two verticals really took off, and we're taking these two articles forward.”

Subramaniam mentioned that the influencer commerce vertical will be a growth area for the company. For the content packaging vertical, the company will be working with producers and OTT platforms to put together content pieces.

"We have done a lot of packaging in the south. We have also worked on animation, and obviously, music packaging is massive for us. These are the verticals that we expanded during the lockdown while everybody else was shutting, and there was no real action happening in Q1 of last year. We used the first quarter of the previous financial year to set ourselves," added Subramaniam.

The company ended the financial year 2018-19 with a top-line increase of 25 per cent. The corporate business is the key driver for Kwan, closely followed by the live entertainment business of the company which contributes 65-70 per cent to the overall revenue.

Since the last year was tough for almost all companies, The Collective Artists Network was no different. With no shoots happening and no films releasing in the first half of the last year, business got affected, said Subramaniam.

He explained, “We approached the lockdown with a simple perspective: ensuring that we keep as many jobs as possible. Kwan is a well-staffed agency as I employ 200 people. Yes, the revenue was down by 20-25 per cent, but we were still in a position where we could have 100 per cent staff retention. We kept the entire team intact. In fact, that was a big success for me last year.”

The company’s live entertainment business was the worst hit due to the pandemic. “The 20-25 per cent decline in revenue is due to the impact on our live entertainment business. We had 70-80 per cent loss in that business.”

“Will it come back? It completely depends on how the pandemic progresses. If we again go to a situation like lockdown, one of the first things that corporates will do is cut down these kinds of events and extravagance. I don't see a full bounce back happening for live entertainment this year. I definitely see a bounce back, but it may not be 100 per cent. However, 60-80 per cent of business should be back,” he said.

Speaking on the growth expectation, he said, “I'm going to assume that if the world gets back to normal, we will have significant growth on the base of the financial year before the pandemic. I intend to attribute at least 50-60% of the new growth to come from the new initiative.”

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