Smart Social Media Marketing Drives Millennial Businesses
Consumer connect is a common thread binding these brands. Bhagyashree Nair & Nishtha Saluja report
When Pratiksha Tewari, a young child psychologist in Delhi, wanted to wear something different for her friend’s wedding, she checked out Instagram and settled on a beaded necklace embellished with silver bells of NakhreWaali, an online designer jewellery store.
“It worked for me because of the novelty pitch,” said Tewari, adding that she cannot find such things at regular online portals. “A lot of this stuff is sold on Instagram and small sellers often make customised stuff, which is good for people who like personalised things,” she said.
NakhreWaali is one of the numerous budding online businesses running largely on the foundation of social media marketing in the country.
Startups such as NakhreWaali, Vajor.com and Prerto bet on unique, handcrafted fashion products that they showcase on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, creating a niche market away from big ecommerce marketplaces.
“Fashion consumers in India want pieces that are unique, with a story,” said Antalya Varma, fashion analyst from The Institute of Apparel Management (IAM), Gurgaon.
She expects such niche brands to steadily create a market for themselves, riding on the exclusivity factor. “These brands provide a healthy balance in the market for fashion enthusiasts and consumers,” Varma said. Most these startups were founded on shoestring budgets and are run without external funding.
NakhreWaali, for example, was started on a budget of just Rs 1.5 lakh. “We started off with our own funds,” said Gursakhi Lugani, its 24-year-old founder. “Whatever savings I hadfrommycorporatejobandsomethatIhad earned from my work as a creative head for an online fashion magazine was put into this business,” she said.
Lugani never had any formal education in fashion. “A friend of mine and I happened to attend fashion week, and we decided to customise our earrings for the event. The complimentswereceivedmademethinkaboutturningthisintoabusiness.Wetooktheplungeand NakhreWaali happened,” she said.
Founded early last year, NakhreWaali is already one of the most popular shops of its kind, having earned Rs 25 lakh in the last six months. Bollywood actors Parineeti Chopra and Swetha Tripathi, comedian Mallika Dua, and TV personality Miss Malini are among its clientele.
Lugani attributes her success to social media. “We’ve never sold anywhere except online,” she said. “No one would know NakhreWaali if it wasn’t for Facebook, Instagram and the likes we receive.”
These businesses have flourished greatly on the back of smart, eye-popping marketing on social media where people across the world have access to collections, styles, colours, and prices of their products. Sure enough, many brands are now popular in markets outside India too.
“A large majority of our customers are from India, the UK, US, and UAE,” said Prerna Agarwal, founder of Mumbai-based handcrafted jewellery brand Prerto. “We also have stockist in New Zealand, Africa, Canada, Singapore and several other countries across the globe.”
Agarwal, who has selectively opened the brand to a few fashion shows and exclusive multi-designer stores, said she has now managed to start another online business two monthsago withher earningsfrom Prerto.
Apurva Lama, director of apparel brand Appycat Street, said she owed her business to social media marketing. “Instagram alone drives half of our traffic,” she said. “We’ve had sales from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. We’ve reached corners of India that we hadn’t heard of and have built a steady international customer base with a number of sales in the US, UK, Dubai and Australia,” she said.
NakhreWaali has built partnerships with entities in Dubai and Milan to enhance sales in those citiesandplantoaddmoretothelistverysoon. Consumer connect is a common thread binding these brands.
Brands like Appycat Street and online designer apparel and jewellery store Vajor.com have collaborated with social media influencers like fashion bloggers and models who widen the market further for them.
Natasha AR Kumar, founder of Vajor, said the brand placed high value in content development and has worked with lifestyle and fashion bloggers as well as people from different walks of life.
“We have a section on our blog called Vajor Muse where we feature intriguing and inspiring women who are travellers, writers, environmentalists, artists who are doing all of this aside from their day to day jobs,” she said. Started in 2014 without any external funding, Vajor has been growing at an annual rate of 200%, Kumar said.
AppycatStreethavehadInstagramstarsand lifestyle and fashion bloggers Komal Pandey (College Couture), Nilu Yuleena Thapa (Big HairLoudMouth),andDollySingh(Spillthat Sass) help them reach a wider audience.
However, despite their success and popularity,manyofthesestartupsarefacingsomedifficulty due to lack of funds.
Himani Singh, founder of online beauty store Ayca, said that being self-funded has made it sacrifice on things like customised packaging, which required huge volumes and cash flow. Singh and her business partner Mallyeka Watsa started Ayca by investing Rs 5 lakh from their savings. The brand’s turnover in the past six months has been around Rs 20 lakh and it has Bollywood actor Harshvardhan Kapoor among its clients.
According to Varma of IAM, these brands understand their customers inside out and provide them with exactly what they require. “India is an aggressive market, and with time competition is only going to increase,” she said. “These brands need to focus on what they bring on additionally to the table other thantheirbasicproducts,throughtheirbrand image, sales and service.” Surbhi Gupta, an MBA student from Pune, said she was an avid online shopper and she had started purchasing products exclusively from smaller, customised websites rather than the big guns like Myntra, Jabong and Koovs. “The big websites offer mainstream stuff to their customers — things can be found in any mall,” she said. “There are so many smaller websites to choose from here, and the stuff they sell is pretty affordable since we know where and how most of them are being made.”