Survey shows Indian influencers undergoing significant pattern shifts

FleishmanHillard India and Eleve Media release the Influencer Intelligence Report 2021 highlighting the latest trends and insights on the minds of India’s leading influencers; brand recognition and personal experience ranks over compensation


FleishmanHillard India in partnership with Eleve Media today released the India Influencer Intelligence Report 2021, an analysis of key drivers among India’s leading influencers and their impact on influencer marketing. Five hundred of India’s top influencers were canvassed to identify new trends in content creation and brand association. Among the key findings, the report reveals that a majority of Indian influencers rank ‘brand recognition’ and their ‘personal experience with the brand’ as the most important factors to consider when deciding with whom to work.

The India Influencer Intelligence Report 2021 explores the evolving role of brand-influencer relationships and investigates topics such as content creation, creative liberty, sponsored content attributions and brand collaboration, as well as the impact of the Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) guidelines. The report also spotlights key comments from some of India’s leading brand marketers on the current trends in influencer marketing as they relate to a brand’s overall communications strategy.

“Our report shows that the pandemic surfaced a rising undercurrent of interesting trends in the world of influencer marketing, then accelerated them,” said Munavar Attari, FleishmanHillard India managing director and partner. “The bottom line is that brands need to rethink how they work with influencers to cater to changing attitudes and expectations. The power of influencer engagement in India is stronger than ever and we hope the insights in this report benefit brand marketers and influencers alike, while underscoring the industry’s professional standards.”


Five key trends emerged from the India Influencer Intelligence Report 2021:

  1. Connection is the New Currency

Forty percent of Indian influencers ranked ‘brand recognition or image or perception’ as the most crucial factor when deciding which brands they would support on social media. This was followed by their ‘personal experience with a branded product/service’ (32%) and in last place, ‘compensation’ (24%). This suggests brands should shift from traditional product marketing to working more closely with select influencers and creators who can personally identify with the brand.

  1. Creator Direction Trumps Creative Direction

The majority of Indian influencers (87%) said they support the new ASCI Guidelines welcoming more transparency, and 77% also said they do NOT fear losing credibility with their audience because they disclosed their relationship with a brand. Over 60% said they are willing to collaborate with a brand even if the product isn’t related to their niche, while creative restraints were voted as the top reason to decline such associations. In other words, as creators bring more transparency, they will have an upper hand in content direction. This means that while marketers know their brand well, influencers insist on some freedom when it comes to content creation and storytelling.

  1. Influencers are Ambassadors

Over 72% of Indian influencers prefer long-term engagement over sporadic arrangements, as they believe it can drive better results. This is a long-awaited shift as brands should look at investing time and effort to achieve long-term influencer campaign success, much like ambassador programs. As the relationship deepens over time, so should their loyalty; as content becomes increasingly personal, so will the intensity of the audience’s attention and engagement.

  1. Content Equals Clout

Most Indian influencers (84%) ranked content quality as the leading factor that brands should consider when choosing influencers for a partnership. Going forward, brands will need to be embedded into content, communities and lifestyles or consumers will see through the misalignment of values that makes influencer relationships transactional – and therefore ineffective – in the long run.

  1. Micro is the New Mega

After content, influencers ranked engagement rate as the second most important factor (42%) that brands should consider when partnering with influencers, with most influencers believing that ‘profile reach’ and ‘follower base’ are the least important factors. This finding indicates that brands have only scratched the surface when it comes to the power of micro-influencers as opposed to macro or mega-influencers who may have a larger following but lower penetration and engagement.

“Influencer marketing has continued to evolve during the pandemic but one thing remains constant,” added Attari. “Honest voices, when leveraged strategically, can add immense value to a brand.”

The India Influencer Intelligence Report 2021 is based on quantitative data gathered via a structured survey of over 500 influencers, including a mix of micro, macro and nano influencers as well as qualitative insights collated via interviews with marketing professionals. All research was conducted in March 2021 by FleishmanHillard India in partnership with Eleve Media.

To download the complete India Influencer Intelligence Report,  click here