Be Your Selfie! - Brands tapping into a global craze


Be it Hollywood celebrities or Indian politicians, everyone has been affected by the selfie craze. The world selfie has become a phenomenon, a social trend and a marketing tool. We generally correlate the word selfie with the Millennial, the infamous Generation Y, which is considered to be irreverent and self obsessed. Vineet Taneja, Country Head, Mobile and Digital Imaging, Samsung Electronics, India breaks this myth.

‘Selfie phenomenon is extremely relevant today. We generally assume that ‘selfie’ is a nice way of referring to the youth but we could not be more wrong. Everyone from Narendra Modi to Barack Obama is clicking a selfie and uploading it on social media. It is not restricted to just the young generation of today and hence the brands have to break out of this misconception and market accordingly,’ he shares.

Take this stat into consideration. Roughly 90 million people in India today possess a Smartphone, 75% of which are connected to a data network. 60% of those Smartphones have a front camera which brings down the number to 40 million. Only these people by and large can generate a selfie and only 25% of these are in the age group of 15-25 years. Brands hence have a wide demographic they can engage through the selfie phenomenon. ‘Only 10 million of the youth can generate a selfie. Brands have a much larger section of population to target,’ adds Vineet.

This target audience is engaged by brands through the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. The concept of selfie is personalized and is generally shared by people among only their close network of family and friends.

‘Selfie is a utilitarian thing and the realization by marketers that they have access to real time, real emotions has created massive marketing opportunities for brands to explore,’ says Vineet. With selfies, brands have an opportunity for product placement. Amul recently carried out its #MyKoolSelfie campaign where it urged consumers to share their selfie with a Amul Kool Mil bottle. Mahindra is another brand which has come forward to urge its fans to share their selfie with the Mahindra SUV.

But why are selfies created? ‘It’s a natural human behavior to love yourself,’ says Anisha Motwani, Director and Head, Marketing, Direct Sales and Ecommerce, Max Life Insurance. ‘What is being considered as narcissism and self obsession is actually just an expression of self indulgence in a very positive way,’ she adds. Selfies are about creating a self identity. Earlier, pictures were photoshoped and made up, clicked with artificial smiles and near perfect expressions. Now, the concept of self discovery is evolving and selfies have become a way of bringing forth the real human emotions. ‘People nowadays want to discover themselves and show the world- this is what I am. The concept of staged photographs is being replaced by real emotions,’ says Anisha.

Keeping this concept in mind Kellogg’s India launched a campaign for Special K with actress Deepika Padukone using selfie as the central theme. It showed the actress recording and sharing every moment while preparing for a wedding-from selecting outfits, practicing dance steps and weight reduction. The idea behind the campaign was to promote the concept of ‘celebrating yourself’.

Most marketers agree that selfies cannot be a stand-alone campaign but an effective tool to enhance and push what you are doing. MTV, in association with Philips, launched #StyleTurf around Valentine’s Day, urging couples to share their most stylish selfies with the best ones getting a prize. This activity was a part of a much larger campaign for Philips.

Clicking and sharing a selfie exposes a person and his emotions to the world, it is not fake or made up, rather a symbol of authenticity and transparency. ‘People seek self validation and endorsement. Vulnerability of a person gets exposed when they seek outside approval and validation gives them confidence. Generation Y is born in an era of plenty and opinions and endorsements are important for them and positive comments give them inspirations,’ adds Anisha. These emotions attached to a selfie are being used by brands to connect with their audience.

‘People have now started believing that they matter and their opinion matters. This is what is being leveraged by brands and being used to market their products. Brands like Dove, which have authenticity and transparency as one of their values can easily tap into the trend of selfie to reach out to their customers,’ she adds.

‘The agenda behind a selfie is first to celebrate yourself and second, to be a part of the conversation,’ says Alok Bhardwaj, Executive Vice President, Canon India. ‘Marketers are thankful to Smartphones for making this concept trendy. It is a great tool to engage with the audience on an emotional level and brands are leveraging this platform to a wide extent,’ he adds.

The most effective way to engage consumers nowadays is through the process of storytelling. ‘Selfies are also a part of the story. They have become the centre of the conversation and are building relations,’ says Alok. All conversations begin with a visual aid and self photography is a large part of that conversation.

Selfies have many versions and are multi dimensional. There are emotional selfies, enthusiastic selfies, curious selfies, and so on. It is now up to the brands to figure out how to leverage them best before the trend fades out.

Tags assigned to this article:
amul canon dove kellogs mahindra Millennial mtv philips samsung selfie

Around The World

Our Publications