Fashion Media Companies Should Look Towards India to Capture a Newly Accessible Demographic

Rapid growth in telecommunication access in India has led to large media consumption from Indian smartphone users. As Fashion brands and media companies look to increase their number of subscribers they can look towards an underrepresented market in India.

Changes in the Fashion Media Landscape

The way we consume media changes every day. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other technologies that focus on the user experience guide our attention away from traditional print media. In the fashion and beauty industries seasoned publishers like Condé Nast lose market share to primarily digital media companies  like Refinery29, Business of Fashion, and Complex. In November 2017, Teen Vogue discontinued its print editions and transitioned to a digital-only format. Condé Nast relies heavily on advertising revenue, but in 2017, 50 of the company’s accounts cut print-advertising spending by 417.5 million. Overall, the media landscape is moving towards digital platforms.


Telecom Expansion

Pictured: Mukhesh Ambani, Chariman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, Ltd.

In 2016, Reliance Jio launched cut rate mobile data plans with hopes of bringing tens of millions of Indians online. When Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, Ltd. invested $32 billion into the telecom venture, Reliance Jio, the overall goal was to, “democratize the digital culture”. Since its founding Reliance Jio’s market share has increased from 1.52% of India’s wireless subscriber market share in September 2016 to 20.5% in August of 2018. Over the last two years, the number of mobile subscribers in India increased by over 150 million. Overall, a little under 350 million of the 1.2 billion mobile telephones in India are smartphones, a figure eMarketer, a US based research firm, projects will increase to over one fourth of the Indian population.


YouTube’s Success in India

Pictured: Bhuvan Bam, surpassed not only 1, but 2 million subscribers in 2016. His channel, BB Ki Vines, focuses on comedy with over 11 million subscribers.

In 2017, 14 YouTube creators in India hit the 1 million subscriber mark. The growth in YouTube’s popularity in India is largely credited to increased access to affordable data. This increase in popularity is creating opportunities for creators across all genres. Mobile-viewing comprised 80% of YouTube watch time, as it experienced 400% growth year over year. At the end of 2017, Facebook and YouTube led social media penetration in India. Both companies had 30% penetration in the market.

If you peruse Vogue’s YouTube channel, you’ll find videos ranging from “Rihanna’s Epic 10-Minute Guide to Going Out Makeup,” that brought in 17 million views, to videos like, “73 Questions with Kendall Jenner,” the latter being Vogue’s most watched video with over 25 million views. The key to replicating this success abroad is creating content that locals relate to.

A little over 261,000 people subscribe to Vogue India on YouTube. In comparison, Vogue’s (US) YouTube channel has over 3.7 million subscribers. Oddly, despite the discrepancy in number of subscribers, Vogue India’s most viewed video amassed over 11 million views. Directed by Homi Adajania,”Deepika Padukone-‘My Choice’,” focuses on women empowerment through the perspective of 99 Indian women from different walks of life. The Indian population waits eagerly for relatable content to access through their smart phones as 70% of its digital consumers only utilize mobile phones.

Pictured: Deepika Padukone featured in the short film “My Choice.” The short film is approaches 12 million views on Vogue India’s YouTube channel.


The Pitch for Fashion Brands

Going Mass

Large fashion houses survive the volatile industry by going mass. Brands like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier have all developed ancillary products to sell to the masses and remain profitable. Small leather goods and fragrances are the most popular products peddled by fashion houses to keep the doors open. Selling these mass-produced products do more than just lining the pockets of fashion houses due to the products’ huge markups.

Selling products that are more affordable creates an entry market for younger consumers who will have more disposable income later. Buying a Balenciaga Leather Logo Wallet for $395 or a 3.4 oz. bottle of Gabrielle Chanel for $135 is easier than purchasing a Balenciaga Cotton Oversized Combo T-shirt, costing $1,290, or a Chanel Boy Bag, for upwards of $4,000. Nonetheless, the customer still walks away with part of the brand. To appeal to this sentiment, fashion brands are introducing virtual experiences to immerse the consumer in the brand’s culture.

Creating a Customer Through Digital Means

Instagram launched its IGTV app in June to compete with YouTube, similar to Instagram’s addition of its story feature to compete with Snapchat, and provide a platform centered on long-form video. If you click on any fashion brands Instagram story or Instagram TV channel you will more than likely find livestreams from the brand’s latest fashion shows, behind-the-scenes work in the atelier, or an upcoming ad campaign.  Designers try to keep consumers intrigued by increasing the company’s transparency. The increased transparency builds brand loyalty and makes the brand accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Brands can create a customer in new markets through relatable digital media content.

Designers and fashion media companies will need to learn how to cater to audiences abroad in order to sustain growth. Time will tell if media companies like Condé Nast will ride the digital media wave that India’s experiencing.

Oliver Lawrence :: Master of Management Candidate :: Tulane University