Not just content creators anymore: How India’s influencers are expanding their horizons

May 22, 2023
Not just content creators anymore: How India’s influencers are expanding their horizons

Over the last few years, the creator economy in India has grown exponentially, attracting millions of independent creators joining various social media platforms and starting businesses. As the creator economy has grown to the size of $75-150 million in India and $1.75 billion globally, as per AdLift, marketers are investing more of their social media budgets on content creator partnerships with leading creators or influencers. 

Some of the creators are so popular and talented that they have started bagging bigger platforms to showcase their talent. Prajakta Koli, for instance, who is known for her YouTube and Insta channel MostlySan with millions of followers, made her Bollywood debut with Karan Johar’s ‘Jug Jug Jeeyo’. Koli gained prominence by focussing on observational comedy related to daily life situations. Creator Viraj Ghelani has also joined the tribe and shared the trailer of his debut film ‘Govinda Mera Naam’. He will be seen alongside Bollywood’s favorites Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, and Kiara Advani. YouTuber Beyounick will also debut with the film ‘The Virgin Tree’.

“One of the most prominent trends in the creator economy currently is the movie projects that the creators have been bagging under big production houses. While the creators get a bigger platform to showcase their talent, producers can take advantage of their huge fandom. It’s a win-win situation,” says Divyansh Gala, Group Head - Outreach, SoCheers. 

The demand for influencer-led merchandise is also on the rise and creators are increasingly leveraging their loyal customer base to build personal labels and brands. 

Bhuvan Bam, who runs a popular comic Youtube channel ‘BB Ki Vines’ with 28 million followers, started his label named Youthiapa with friend Arvin Bhandari way back in 2017. It was India’s first platform to have store access on a YouTube channel where subscribers can shop for their favorite merchandise right below videos. 

Influencer Vishnu Kaushal has also come up with his merchandise brand ‘Peach by Vishnu’ in 2021 and has released four collections since, all of which got sold out within days. Koli, also launched her merchandise line in 2021. It comprises T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and mugs among other things.

Many creators such as Ankur Warikoo, after creating a huge follower base, have started taking workshops on topics of their expertise. Similarly, we have seen a lot of educational creators taking up online effective sessions, and students seem to appreciate it. There’s a strong potential that they can start a paid subscription model for this in the near future, according to Gala. 

With influencers having such a strong resonance with their audience-base, some brands have them onboard as their official content creators, not just on a case-by-case basis, marketing experts say. 

Esports content platform Rooter for instance has recently signed a long-term deal with leading streamer Lokesh Raj Singh, popularly known as Lokesh Gamer. 

Dipesh Agarwal, Co-founder and COO, Rooter, says, “The market for live game streaming and game-based content creation as a medium of entertainment has exploded over the last few years. Bringing top creators like Lokesh on board is another step towards our long-term goal of becoming the de facto live streaming and engagement platform for Indian gamers and gaming enthusiasts.”

Not just video or game creators, podcasters are also emerging as influencers for many brands though the audio influencer segment is niche in India as of now, says Arjun Koladi, Head of Sales, Spotify India.


It’ll be interesting to watch such shifts in the brand-influencer relationships in 2023 which are set to get even bigger thanks to all of the attention and investment that the creator economy is drawing in this year. 

Siddhant Mazumdar, Head of Mediabrands Content Studio – India, says, “I think creators will look to diversify and create different types of content and not just stick to what they started with. Being versatile in your approach will be key to developing a strong base across platforms. The possibilities are endless.” 


No recession impact 

With a looming global recession, a reduction in advertising spends are expected across the board. This poses a pertinent question-What lies ahead for the creator's economy in the coming months? Experts say there is nothing to worry about.

Mazumdar explains, “With a looming recession, brands will be forced to rationalize their spending in a big way. And in doing so, I expect expensive creative/content productions to face much deeper scrutiny as brand managers will look for smarter and more economical approaches in meeting the same objectives. This is exactly why creators should continue to bloom as their low cost of production can help them become recession proof.”

Amit Chaudhary, Chief Data Officer, Cheil India, echoes the sentiments. “Creator’s economy is built around three pillars – content creators, brands and platforms on which the content goes live. While advertising spends may be cut, brands would still go ahead and engage with content creators that clearly demonstrate good fit –relevance of brand to creators audience,” Chaudhary said. 

However, that doesn’t mean that things will be very simple for them either as with more and more creators popping up every day, competition amongst creators will become even more fierce, Mazumdar warns, adding, “Every creator will have to work extra hard to prove relevance and their ability to deliver on the brand brief. Brands will have no problem pointing out that there is always some cheaper, more flexible way to do the same content piece.”


Not all are able to monetise

Grass is not green across the content ecosystem. A large number of creators remain unpaid across the world.  

According to a report by Kaalari Capital, there are around eight crore creators in India, of which only about 1.5 lakh can monetise their services effectively—i.e. less than 0.2 per cent. 

As per the report, creators with 10,000 to 10 lakh followers earn approximately between ₹15,000 to ₹2 lakh per month. A few with more than 10 lakh followers have the potential to earn approximately between ₹2 lakh to ₹52 lakh per month. 

So from the other side of the smartphone screen it may look like everyone can become an influencer and monetise their content, but it’s not easy for everyone to make a livable income off it. Even those who are successful in doing so, claim that constant and steady income is unlikely or rare.

Chaudhary says, “To outshout competitors, brands are constantly on the lookout for new creators. In 2023, young and emerging creators especially with a fast growing audience and a robust brand fit would be able to monetise content quickly and the gap is bound to shrink as brand outreach efforts would improve too.”

This gap will most definitely shrink as more and more creators are entering the content ecosystem and there are clear success codes to follow already, set by the most successful ones. While every creator will not earn a million dollars, most will at least get started with basic monetization with the help of the many platforms and avenues for them to do so, Mazumdar noted. 

Source: exchange4media