Content creators mean business

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on January 25, 2021

Mistress of spices: After popularising Maharashtrian cuisine through her YouTube channel, Madhura Bachal decided to launch her range of spices

Social media influencers are flipping the rules by first getting followers and then launching products and services

Three years ago, Madhura Bachal, who had been popularising Maharashtrian cuisine through her YouTube channel MadhurasRecipe, felt it was time to take her success in the digital world to the next level. Armed with feedback from her large base of followers, she decided to jump into the highly-competitive space of masalas. Her Madhura’s Recipe range of spices which includes Goda Masala and Byadghi Mirchi offers the promise of authentic Marathi flavours, she says.

“Consumers increasingly want to go back to their roots, turn to their grandmoms’ recipes and want authentic taste,” Bachal says. Within the first day of launching on Amazon, she adds that they started seeing good sales. “Now we are available at offline stores and adding more variants. We even have a WhatsApp ordering facility for rural consumers.”

Bachal is part of a growing army of social media influencers who are no longer just content creators fronting big brands, but are launching their own labels. These entrepreneurs have flipped the business playbook by first getting followers (consumers) and then launching products. “My followers are my strength. If I would have done this in reverse, by first launching a brand and then trying to find consumers, the amount of capital required to launch the products would have been much higher and it would have entailed a monthly cash burn,” she says.

Front seat to feedback

What makes these social media bred entrepreneurs tick, says Mihir Surana, Chief Operations Officer, NOFILTR, an influencer incubator, is that they gain critical consumer insights as they test and market products for other brands across categories of beauty, fashion, fitness or food.

“They learn a lot regarding products and market need gaps during this period. Once they establish a follower base or have their own audience, they can launch products that they feel are right for their fans,” he adds.

Hot wheels: Faisal Ali Khan, who has over a million followers on YouTube, has launched his own label of motorcycle riding gear


Take, for instance, Faisal Ali Khan, founder and editor of MotorBeam Digital, an automotive content platform. The social media influencer, who has over a million followers on YouTube, has launched his own label of motorcycle riding gear. “I wasn't satisfied with the quality of motorcycle riding gear available in India and realised that there was a lack of products at an attractive price. Thus FK-R was born with the idea of a ‘Made in India’ label offering both style and design, without compromising on functionality,” he explains.

The timing is propitious for the social media influencers turned entrepreneurs. The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption for purchases and payments. A report by Avendus Capital released in October said the direct-to-consumer segment was expected to have a $100 billion addressable market by 2025 in India and would lead the next decade of shopping.

Dressed for the occasion: Fashion and beauty influencer Shaurya Sanadhya Tulshyan launched an eponymous label offering “made-to-measurement” customised ethnic and Western wear


Fashion and beauty influencer Shaurya Sanadhya Tulshyan says she decided to launch an eponymous label offering “made-to-measurement” customised ethnic and Western wear. Sanadhya, who is also the founder of personal care brand Aryam Bodycare, has also expanded the reach of her business ventures beyond her social media follower base by focusing on marketing and advertising strategies.

But having a front seat to marketing brands is not enough. As Khan says a lot goes into solving the challenges of getting the right product at the right prices and partnering with the right vendors.

Surana points out that Indian consumers are still conservative when it comes to spending on “fanship products of their favourite creators” but says the industry is expected to grow with the rapid rise in online shopping.

Sandeep Bhushan, Head of India GMS, Facebook, on whose Instagram platform a lot of these entrepreneurs have been born, says, “From fashion, to food, to entertainment, to travel, people on Instagram have created trends that have gone mainstream and pushed culture forward. This has enabled them to turn their passions into a living, especially as digital influence is on the rise.”

Tying up

Besides launching a full-fledged brand on their own, influencers are also collaborating with established brands to launch their collections. As Anuja Deora Sanctis, founder and CEO, Filter Coffee, a digital agency, says, Indian Influencers have started collaborating with beauty and lifestyle brands to launch their personal limited-edition collections and have been successful at it. Not only has the beauty and skincare industry dug profit out of influencers but the industry has also witnessed social media celebrities venture into the food and hospitality industry.

Influencer-fronted labels are definitely gaining momentum, agrees Maddie Amrutkar, founder and CEO at Glad U Came, a PR and influencer marketing agency. “Influencers are well connected, often interested in fashion and hold a powerful sway over their followers, so transitioning from working with brands to launching their own fashion labels is a natural progression for many.”

However, he cautions, “Influencers hoping to break into fashion still have to take sourcing, cash flow and customer expectations into account when launching their own labels.”

So while influencers do have the magic wand to launch brands, they still need to do the hard work to make them successful. As Bachal sums up quirkily, “If content is the king, consistency is the kong.”

Published on January 24, 2021

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