India’s changing media landscape – with broadcasters and publishers responding to demand for local language content – is being mirrored in the influencer market as brands make greater use of regional stars.

Brands in India value celebrity endorsement and have traditionally sought out Bollywood stars or top sportsmen – usually cricketers – but that is changing with the growing importance of languages other than English and Hindi and the development of product variants for different parts of the country.

It’s not new that big brands are creating ads for regional markets using local celebrities: Coke and Pepsi, for example, have used Tamil and Telugu film stars regularly, according to Ambi Parameswaran, founder of

What is changing, however, is that they are not necessarily regarded as an afterthought – a short-term add-on to a national campaign.

“I think as markets become bigger, we will see ads being created for specific regional markets,” Parameswaran told the Business Standard.

“For example brands that are strong in Tamil Nadu, such as Chandrika or Hamam have made creatives that resonate with the local customs.”

And considering the cost of top celebrities and the demands on their time, it may be more cost-effective and practical for brands to engage consumers by using people they can more easily relate to.

“When it comes to resonance, the local celebrity will always have greater pull in a particular market than a mainstream celebrity,” argued marketing consultant Harish Bijoor.

“Given India’s granular diversity, brands have realised that to get this local resonance, they have to segment the country into smaller markets and approach each differently,” he said.

Tata Sky, for example, signed on Malayalam actor Mohan Lal as an endorser back in 2013 as a way to help the direct-to-home (DTH) service provider build its base in South India – a model it has followed ever since with a number of other actors working in various local languages.

Future Group, Hindustan Unilever and Star TV are among other major brands that have successfully used regional celebrities to drive awareness and preference.

Sourced from Business Standard; additional content by WARC staff