Is the Kidfluencer poised for growth?
While presently in its infancy, the industry shows great potential, but concerns about kids' mental health and safety can't be ignored, say experts
What’s common between Kobe Eats, Mila & Emma Stauffer, Ava & Leah Clements, Coco, and Everleigh Rose? They are kids under the age of 10 and are highly popular social media influencers with a massive global fan following.
Not just that, they are pocketing some lavish brand deals as well from the likes of Lego, Burberry, Puma, Walmart, Target, Apple, and many more. And while the western world, and to a great extent, the SEA region has already seen the big rise of these tiny stars, the kidfluencer category in India is still in its infancy. However, the industry predicts that there is a lot of scope for its growth in the coming years.
exchange4media dives into the details of the industry, the global outlook, and how the Indian marketing industry is indulging with the scope it offers.
The Influence of Children
According to Indian Kids Digital Insights 2019, a study conducted by Totally Awesome, kids digital ad spend will reach $1.7 billion by 2021 globally, equating to 37% of total kids ad spend. One of the factors contributing to this growth is that 73% of kids ask their parents to buy something after seeing recommendations online by kids' influencers.
While within India, this would have felt like an impossible feat earlier as the elders took all the purchase decisions for the household and the kids.
The trend of children influencing purchases is on an upswing here as well with millennial parents being more culturally open. And this creates a sweet spot for the kidfluencer category to grow here.
Whoppl CEO & Founder Ramya Ramachandran says that brands realise the pester power that the modern kids have can work wonders for any campaigns these days.
The Emerging Indian Child Influencers
The western world warmed up to the concept of kids being influencers almost a decade ago with little children acquiring the digital space on their own with toy unboxing videos initially and then with their styling or acting content.
YouTuber Ethan (Ethan Gamer), who started his content creation journey merely at the age of seven in 2013 already has his own merchandising line and has worked with numerous brands.
He currently has 2.8 million subscribers, far ahead of many of the top influencers in India. Similarly, aged only four in 2019, twin Instagram influencers Mila and Emma Stauffer (@milastauffer & @theemmastauffer) had turned fashion designers for Target and currently have a personalised clothing range on Walmart as well.
While they started their content creation journey on mom Katie Stauffer’s page, the girls have millions following them on their individual pages too.
However, the Indian kidfluencer market is still very young. While it is quite difficult to pinpoint the moment of its emergence, many digital marketing leaders believe that the popularity of actors Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s elder son Taimur sparked the trend (around 2016-17).
Logicserve Digital Vice President-Creative Manesh Swamy says, “In India, Bollywood and ad films are some of the biggest influencers for a lot of new trends. A few years ago, many celebrity couples and their newborn babies were the centre of attention for the audience. And, with Taimur leading the kids army, the audience wanted more of his cuteness and flocked onto social media. Plus, a lot of new kids who became famous overnight due to their stints in reality shows joined the bandwagon. With mobile data being more accessible, there was a surge of kids coming on to social platforms like YouTube and TikTok (when it was the in thing).”
Also, the kids and parents had taken influence from the mini-stars across the globe and YouTube started seeing its own breed of young content creators.
It was in 2015 that three-year-old Nihal Rajagopalan (KichaTube HD) started putting cooking videos on YouTube and a few years later found himself on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Noida-based Anantya Anand (My MissAnand) started her own YouTube channel in 2017, at the age of seven after appearing in a few videos of her blogger aunt. Today, she is one of the most popular content creators in the category and has worked with brands like Nickelodeon, Pillsbury, Disney, among others.
The Celeb Mom and Kid Influencers
What catalysed the growth of these kid influencers was the emergence of mommy influencers, who started making their kids a big part of their content, predominantly on Instagram where they already enjoy cult following.
Ramachandran points out, “In the last 3-4 years, mothers have increasingly started to document their journey on their social media timeline. From announcing their pregnancy to showcasing their prenatal journey, they have been openly sharing their life with their followers. These followers, too, are more than interested and keen to know it all. From getting friendly tips to getting product recommendations by these mother influencers, the followers—who could be mothers themselves— are able to relate to everything that is discussed.”
A number of successful mom bloggers and influencers like Saru Mukherjee Sharma ((@diapers_and_lipsticks), Garima Bansal (@mommylilworld), Manya Solanki (@manya_solanki), and Bhumika Bajaj (@little_toddler_boggler) are actively sharing their parenting journey and also their kids' lives on social media.
Another interesting set in addition to these is popular TV stars who are running the Instagram accounts of their newborns very successfully. One of the early starters were TV actor Karanvir Bohra and his wife Teejay Sidhu who made an Instagram account for their twin daughters Bella & Vienna (@twinbabydiaries) in 2017 when the babies were less than a year old.
Today their profile introduces them as UN Goodwill Ambassadors and has a massive following of 510k. Others soon joined the bandwagon, including Rannvijay Singha and Priyanka Vohra’s daughter Kainaat (@singhakainaat), Karan Mehra and Nisha Rawal’s son Kavish (@kavishmehra), and probably the youngest addition, Anita Hassnandani & Rohit Reddy’s son three-month old son Aaravv (@aaravvreddy) who already has 100k followers on Instagram.
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A Democratic Space
While on the face of it, it looks like that the kidfluencer space on Instagram is hugely dominated by children of already famous bloggers and celebrities, that’s really not the case.
Ramachandran says, “The popularity is in store for both categories of kids. The only difference is that for celebrity kids, they innately become popular because of their star parents. The kind of curiosity that fans display in the lives of their favourite celebrity is automatically extended to their babies too.”
Swamy adds, “Yes, the celeb kids comparatively have more access to opportunities rather than the non-celeb kids. But ultimately, what they are doing on social media or if their content is relatable to the fellow young audiences and their parents create the impact. We have seen some non-celeb kids going viral for their display of talent. It will be fun to see a baby version of ‘Mostly Sane’ in the near future, isn’t it?”
And certainly, non-celeb kids are charming the audiences on Instagram too. During last year’s lockdown and with the introduction of Reels, Instagram has seen a spike in the popularity of several little content creators like Kiara Nautiyal (@kiara_minime) who started creating content eight months ago and already has 80.6k followers on Instagram and 43.2k subscribers on YouTube. Amreen Malhotra (@princessamreenmalhotra) has 689k followers on Instagram and a number of brand associations too.
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What Are Brands Up To
Lego is already looking for its first-ever Kid Creative Director globally, and as mentioned earlier Target & Walmart are running exclusive clothing lines with these kidfluencers, but in India, the opportunities are still limited. The brands are warming up to the idea of integrating their products in kids content, be it on a mom influencer page or otherwise, the level of involvement is still very simple.
DiVo founder and director Shahir Muneer thinks that brands are still working with a sales-driven approach to these integrations and hence like to have the parents involved in the scripts. “We have been working with a lot of brands who are interested in partnering with mom influencers for organic content. But we have never received any request wherein the brand just wanted the kid to be a part of any campaign.”
"Obviously, some of the earliest brands that leveraged Celebrity Mom and their babies influencers are Pampers (Who worked with Shrima Rai, Sameera Reddy, Sona Ali Khan), Mamaearth (Shilpa Shetty) and Johnson's Baby. With the rise of D2C brands targeting kids – like Mamaearth, MommyPure, Maate, The Moms Co etc – there has been a steady growth in the engagement of babies and mothers but it's yet to gather steam in my opinion.”
The Mavericks India Reputation Architect & Digital Specialist Archit Agarwal adds that the baby pages on social media right now are not as equipped to deliver a brand message on their own.
Citing an example, he says, “Brands invest a lot in parenting influencers. One of our clients, Hero Electronix was one such brand that launched a baby cam this year and influencer marketing was crucial to their go-to-market strategy. Baby influencers would have been great for them however in our research, we found that most baby influencer pages were not yet equipped to deliver a brand message. Given how new this subset of the industry is, these pages are still trying to build their content buckets and positioning without which it's hard to find a way to naturally integrate a product through them.”
The Future is Bright but Challenging
All said and done, the growth potential of kids influencers in a brand’s journey and also in their social media popularity is huge. The space is new and is attracting a lot of new faces to be a part of this booming trend.
Muneer feels that the industry will gradually pick up and a lot will depend on the kind of interest the audience will show to the type of content that this young breed of creators is going to offer.
Batra says that the industry will definitely grow but won't be a major influencer category sometime sooner. “The growth in this category will require a higher level of creativity, intellect, planning & effort as compared to most of the generic influencer categories. The Kidinfluencer category will grow much faster as compared to babies as per our understanding of the industry and with new categories like Neobanking for teenagers – we might see more kids like Agastya Shah becoming important influencers.”
Albeit, Ramachandran states that the baby influencers industry is quite big, and it’s only going to grow in the years to come but will predominantly be a source of information for new mothers.
“Mothers generally are quite paranoid about their child’s health; hence they actively lookout for content on the internet. Not just that, from the consumption perspective, there has been a considerable shift from synthetic products to natural, homegrown products.
"From a huge Pamper to a relatively small and new Baby Jalebi, Indian mothers are expanding their horizons. Consequently, there is a huge demand for mother and baby influencers.”
However, the industry is also worried about the challenges that this trend can bring for the real subjects of the motion, the kids. Agarwal rightfully points out, “It (kid influencer industry) has the potential to be huge and really change the game. I also do worry about the children, as they grow so would their own outlook to such a public image of themselves. This could have some deep mental health challenges that come with them. Given that you really can't take consent from a child before building their profile, I would rather see baby content be more of a messaging arc on a mom influencer's page than as a separate persona of its own.”
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