MUMBAI: Marketers are turning to the power of online influencers in India as internet penetration increases and young Indians spend more time on their phones than ever.

Although social media access remains low in India compared to other markets – just 13% of the total population use Facebook and 7% use Instagram – the sheer size and spending power of India's more educated millennial generation offers compelling reasons for brands to look towards online influencers.

Kunal Sinha, an expert in consumer trends, examined the role of India's influencers and their social media behaviour in an exclusive Warc report: How Colgate, Philips and Durex Do Influencer Marketing in India.

Brands must carefully consider who they partner with to have the most positive effect, he said, and that means an influencer who enjoys popularity with the target audience, as well as being a good fit for the brand.

Philips understood that requirement in order to make their home appliance products popular on the subcontinent. The Dutch firm realised it needed an Indian touch, both in terms of the recipes featured and talent.

After discovering most recipe content was Western-oriented, Philips roped in one of India's most popular YouTube chefs, Sanjay Thumma, to create a six-month long branded show, called Philips SuperChef, on his own cookery channel VahChef. In each episode, he showed viewers how to cook a dish using the Philips Airfryer.

With over 330,000 subscribers, this was a captive audience. And after every episode, Thumma also posted the recipe episodes on his Facebook page.

The outcome of engaging Sanjay Thumma for Philips was outstanding, Sinha said, because average monthly keyword searches for Philips Airfryer jumped by 1292%, and year-on-year sales grew by 266%.

Elsewhere, a survey by found that most online influencers are millennials aged between 20 and 40, and blogging is seen as a full-time career for those participating.

The most popular category of blogging and micro-blogging is lifestyle and fashion, followed by travel, food, entertainment, healthcare and technology.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the most popular channels, with Instagram being more popular among India's fashion and food influencers.

Data sourced from Warc