Influencers have inverted the funnel to such an extent that marketers in India are starting to factor them into their annual calendars, according to one brand executive.

Eiti Singhal, general manager of the Brand and Marketing team at electronics giant Panasonic, addressed this topic at the recent India Affiliate Summit in Gurugram, where she explained that the use of influencers is no longer just about reaching more consumers.

“Today it’s changed a lot, it’s about tying up with a home chef or a lifestyle or beauty blogger so that we are able to create an impact for the brand instead of just building a reach,” she said. (For more read WARC’s report: India embraces influencer marketing.)

“Going forward, there is definitely a lot of science and data which will go into this piece of marketing, on the kind of tools that we are going to use and the percentage of marketing spend,” she added.

It’s no longer the brand talking to consumers, Singhal said: it’s the consumers who are deciding what they should be buying, who they should be transacting with or which brand they engage with. This has pushed brands in India to rethink their customer acquisition strategies.

“The entire funnel has inverted, and with advocacy being at the top of the funnel, trust has become a far bigger thing,” she said. “And trust is not with the brand directly, it’s with the peer group you interact with, the one that is advocating that particular brand, this is the trend going forward.”

This “huge change” in consumer behavior is running alongside changes in how categories are evolving and the way consumer thinking is evolving. Earlier this year, the India Influence Report found that 92% of marketers in expected to launch at least one influencer campaign in 2018, while 62% anticipated increasing their budget for influencer marketing.

“You cannot do away with influencer marketing,” Singhal advised. It’s a great platform for you to reach out to your specific target audience, and the niche audience you are trying to reach through their trustworthy peer group.”

It's so much so that Panasonic now builds its annual calendar around it: “As in, what are we going to do with the influencers and how are they going to be intrinsically built into every marketing program that we do”.

Sourced from WARC