India’s Creator Economy And The Forces That Drive It

Flexible office hours, remote work, and revival of passion pursuits have played a catalyst in the creator economy's compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent, writes Madhav Sheth of realme India


Over the last decade, social media and online platforms have played a significant role in marketing and entertainment. During the Covid-19 pandemic, these ‘nice to have apps’ on our phones that connect us to the world became important to our very existence.  From businesses to individuals, everyone was hooked to social media platforms to stay connected, buy and sell products or services and avoid lockdown-induced isolation. Meanwhile, with the rising sophistication of entry to mid-range smartphones in the market traditionality underwent radical changes in every aspect - content creation and consumption included. ‘Home editions’ became exciting spaces to share with the world while experiments such as baking banana bread and making dalgona coffee became hits among netizens. The market for digital talent grew exponentially, giving rise to a new term, "the creator economy."

Today, creating content is practically reflexive, and everybody with an internet-connected device is doing it! According to HubSpot's 2022 State of Consumer Trends study, the global market is worth over USD 100 billion. What started out as side hustles for some creators has turned into full-time businesses.  In fact, 30 per cent of 18–24-year-olds and 40 per cent of 25–34-year-olds surveyed in the HubSpot study identify themselves as content creators.

In India, reports suggest that the pandemic’s flexible office hours, remote work, and revival of passion pursuits played a catalyst in the creator economy's compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent, with predictions it will be an INR 2,200 crore industry by 2025.

What’s more, the tools to create top-notch content are now in the hands of most who have access to smartphones.  Also, microphones, editing software, and collaboration apps are more readily available, which enables the quality production of movies and radio shows for smaller audiences.  

New India comes online, thanks to affordable smartphones

The availability of smartphones has made it less expensive and simpler than ever to produce and distribute locally pertinent information. The smartphone market in India is on a pronounced growth trajectory, given the rise in disposable income, expanding telecom infrastructure, and an increase in product launches. Owning a smartphone is no longer an indulgence, with simple financing options such as EMI, Buy Now Pay Later schemes available today. In addition, price reductions for smartphones are being driven by ongoing technology advancements and intense rivalry among handset producers, which is enhancing affordability and sales growth.

5G connectivity drives speed and quality

The introduction of 5G in India represents a paradigm change that will allow the country to surpass all other countries in terms of Web3 services. The production of live content, such as electronic news gathering, live events with stage performances, other types of remote production, and most significantly user-generated content, has the potential to greatly benefit from the implementation of 5G. For the next five years, the country is expected to rule the live-streaming market, closing the time-spent gap with the leaders in the segment.

Owing to the device upgrade, 5G smartphones made up about 3% of the market in 2020. In fact, India has already surpassed various top global economies to emerge as the top markets for the shipping of 5G handsets. The cheapest 5G smartphone on the Indian market costs between Rs. 15,000 and 16,000 (about $200 to $220). It is anticipated that lower-cost chipsets and competition among device manufacturers would further reduce costs.

Screen time and social engagements alter user behaviour online

Following government restrictions on social distancing amid nationwide lockdowns, Indian smartphone users spent 39 per cent more time on their devices on average. According to research by App Annie, India ranked third globally in terms of the amount of time an average user spends using a smartphone (4.6 hours per day), behind only Indonesia (5.2 hours per day) and Brazil (4.8 hours per day), in 2021. The number of people exposed to content providers increased along with the growth in social media users. They began looking for content that served their interests at any given time. Over 80 million content producers and creators are currently active in India, and they use a variety of digital media apps to create innovative digital content.

Monetisation of content adds value to creators’ economy

The creators’ economy has been considerably aided by financial tools and software. Content producers today have a variety of opportunities to connect with their fans and earn money from their work thanks to easily accessible platforms. More avenues have emerged for creators after they’ve amassed a sizeable following in a particular industry or niche, including brand partnerships, corporate alliances, and some with their own start-ups, too. Because of this, businesses now see the advertising potential that these content providers have. Social media platforms have also helped the creator economy by creating global marketplaces where creators can find work and diversify their revenue streams.

Future of India and its creators

The increasing use of smartphones in rural areas has sped up significant development, opened enormous prospects, and stoked a desire for cutting-edge technology. Even though India may only be beginning to digitize its villages, it is amazing to watch the instant changes that smartphones have brought about. Over 100 million new creators are anticipated to join the community in the next few years because of the predicted rapid expansion in Tier II and Tier III cities.

As consumers continue to engage with and support their favorite creators by purchasing the goods and services they recommend, a deeper bond between them will develop, fuelled by the expansion of the ecosystem and platforms that made this possible.

( Madhav Sheth is CEO, realme India, VP, realme and President, realme International Business Group)

Around The World

Our Publications