IPRCCC: ‘Influencers play a crucial role in the consumer cycle but are not the end-all’
Panelists agreed that brands have to be creative in identifying which influencer represents the values of the brand
The India Public Relations and Corporate Communications Conference (IPRCCC) 2020 was held on February 12, 2021, by the exchange4media group amid much fanfare. The gathering was graced by several industry experts who elucidated upon issues concerning the world of PR and Corporate Communication.
The summit witnessed insightful panel discussions, keynote addresses, and fireside chats around the theme of economic revival post-Covid and the role of communication in amplifying and channelizing the positive business sentiment. The event concluded with the conferment of the IPRCC Awards.
One of the panel discussions was centered on the role of digital marketing and communication in the age of the social media influencer. The esteemed panel comprised Rachana Chowdhary, Founder Director, Media Value Works; Pranav Kumar, Managing Director, Allison Partners, Shruti Khanna, Deputy Manager – Digital & Retail Marketing, FORD. The session was moderated by the founder of Lateral Sutra Mamta Dhingra.
Mamta Dhingra commenced the session with an anecdote about her 4-year-old child seeking her permission to watch videos of a YouTuber named Ryan—a 9-year-old kid influencer who makes videos reviewing toys, among other things.
She said that this incident compelled her to think about how influencers and influencer marketing was impacting and pervading the lives of people. She threw the floor for the panel and asked about the definition of influencer marketing and how is it shaping the world.
Pranav Kumar began by saying that we lived in an age of influence which is only amplified by the spawning of influencers.
“In terms of engagement, influencers are a category in themselves and we are seeing varying degrees of specialization within them. They play a crucial role in the entire consumer cycle of purchases but they are not the be-all or end-all as there are other tactical campaign elements to induce customers,” Kumar said.
He added that brands have to be creative in how they leverage influencers and influencer market.
Dhingra then wondered whether influencers were eating into the celebrity endorsement space to which Rachana Chowdhary said that the industry is undergoing transformation every 6 months but it is about how we can stay relevant year in, year out and how the strategies need to align with the brand one is handling.
“Influencer marketing is as customized as the brand or the strategy. It depends upon how you micro-strategize who your influencers are going to be. You may want one set of influencers to launch your brand but they may not have the persona to sustain you for the journey,” Rachana said.
She stressed the need for a filter mechanism, a need according to her, we require the most in today’s day and age because there were defined boxes earlier. “It is blurry right now so who the influencer is going to be and how we are going to embed them in our marketing strategy is to be decided by the marketing and PR professional.”
Dhingra asked about the ideal fitment of an influencer as there is not just one influencer that a brand may rope in for its value proposition.
Pranav said that it depends on who serves the purpose for the demography of the viewers the brand wants to target which decides who is selected. He batted for a methodology through which a brand selects its influencers. “We have a defined method which is a sum total of reach, influence, credibility and some amount of X-factor but there is no one size fits all”
When she asked Shruti Khanna about the assessment of ROI, she said that ROI of influencers cannot be measured in numbers directly.
“If the influencer is putting your story to the audience correctly, and able to bridge the gap between a brand and a consumer then eventually, you will see the results.”
She added that you will want to start seeing ROI once you see the impact of the campaign.
“It has to be an influencer who sticks with the brand values. If you have a small influencer, they will be able to deliver your message over a longer period of time.”
Mamta Dhingra moved on to speak about the efficacy of influencer marketing and whether it works only for millennials.
Rachana said that influencer marketing works very different for B2B brands and B2C brands. As the influencer in the case of B2B is appealing to the CIO and CTO of the company whereas in B2C brands, the consumer is the one being influenced.
She said that in today’s time, a lot of it depends on the user interface of the app the customer is using which makes the influencer irrelevant. “Marketers have to be careful about where we spend our marketing dollars as today the consumer is influenced by a smart app rather than the traditional way of getting an influencer to get them to use the product.”
She added that the influencer market is getting diluted in the face CX and UX experience these days.
According to Kumar, consumer electronics, travel, food and beverages, lifestyle, and financial services are seeing a surge in brand and influencer marketing.
Dhingra posed the question about whether influencer marketing was eating into the share of other marketing functions to which Shruti said that it was true. “40 per cent of marketing budgets of some brands were going into influencer marketing during COVID and post COVID.”
Dhingra concluded the discussion with the question on the rise of social commerce and how does the role of influencer will change.
“Influencer marketing is here to stay in the modern era and so are social platforms. Platforms will come and go and social media platforms do a good job of coalescing cultural insights at a given point of time,” Pranav Kumar said.
He said that we are going to see more platforms emerge and will continue in the foreseeable future.
Khanna echoed the sentiment and said that marketing strategies need to be carefully defined and not be short-sighted.
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