On field and on screen, there's nothing stopping Virat Kohli. For the second time in a row, the Duff & Phelps Celebrity Brand Valuation Report 2018 has ranked Kohli as the most valuable brand endorser with a brand value of $171 million, up 19 percent over 2017. From ‘Too Yumm’ snacks to Manyavar ethnic wear to Puma, the 30-year-old Indian cricket team captain has the largest endorsement basket of 24 brands, proving that he is the ultimate all-rounder.
Actor Deepika Padukone climbed up one rung to make it to the second spot with a brand value of $102.5 million, while Bollywood's original Khiladi Akshay Kumar came in third with a brand valuation of $67.3 million. Actor Ranveer Singh, who is married to Deepika Padukone, features at number four with a valuation of $63 million.
With just one release in 2018, the box office flop ‘Zero’, Bollywood's King Khan, has lost appeal amongst endorsers. From the number two spot in 2017, Khan slipped to the fifth position in 2018, with his brand value declining 43 percent from $106 million to $60.7 million.
“Shah Rukh Khan who has recently been occupied with Bollywood productions and health issues, has been able to sign only a few new product brand endorsement deals over the last year. Additionally, his last hit movie was
Raaes, which was released in January 2017. Given his lack of Bollywood and media presence, he has lost some of his endorsements like Vi-John, Dish TV and Frooti to younger celebrities who are more connected with the Indian audience,” reads the report, putting the spotlight on the ascent of millennial celebrities as brand endorsers.
“Millennial celebrities have a good social media presence that is becoming an increasing channel of advertising for companies. Companies are looking for celebrities with rock solid youth followership on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. So millennials clearly have an edge there,” says Aviral Jain, managing director, Duff & Phelps in an interview to CNBC-TV18’s Storyboard.
Underscoring how important it is for brands to have a face that connects to young audiences and influences their buying decisions, the list of top 20 celebrity endorsers features several millennial celebrity endorsers. While
Ek Villain actor Shraddha Kapoor has entered the charts for the first time at number 20, tennis champion PV Sindhu has held on to her 15th rank, while the likes of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma climbed up the ladder in 2018.
Overall, the number of product brand endorsements by the top 20 has increased 15 percent in 2018, from 272 endorsements in 2017 to 314 endorsements in 2018, whereas the number of endorsements by top 5 celebrities has increased 9 percent from 96 in 2017 to 105 in 2018.
Interestingly, the top segments that used celebrity endorsers had different gender preferences.
The top segments dominated by female celebrity endorsers are personal care, jewellery and banking. On the other hand, e-commerce, smartphones, automobile, financial services and direct-to-home (DTH) segments mostly featured male celebrities in TV ads.
“One would typically look at who’s the biggest influencer for that product category. In personal care, mostly women and children influence choices versus the males in the household. Similarly, men have a better influence over the households’ choice of cars or mobile phones,” says Jain.
While Indian brands have explored celebrity couples earlier such as Shahrukh and Gauri Khan for D’decor, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor for Airbnb, Virat Kohli and Anuskha Sharma for Manyavar and Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna for Fortune Basmati Rice, the number of celebrity couple endorsements have been low. In India, around 80 percent of the population between 25-34 years is currently married, making it a very large segment for marketers to target.
With several celebrity couples such as Ranveer-Deepika and Priyanka-Nick tying the knot in 2018, Duff & Phelps says the time is ripe for companies to seriously consider power couple endorsers that have a hold on India's young consumer class.
With brands also increasingly looking for better returns on investments in regional markets and the push for regional connect getting only stronger, national brands are increasingly coming up with regional advertisements featuring regional stars. From Mahesh Babu and Shruti Haasan in South India to Diljit Dosanjh in the North, endorsements by regional stars has grown in giving brands a much stronger connect with regional masses.“Brands feel combining cultural sensitivity with current norms and notions is the key to target and diversify your current audience. Regional channels viewership is also increasing due to the onset of digitalisation and now advertisers can effectively allocate their budget and streamline their audience accordingly. Even for celebrities, doing a region-specific advertisement strengthens their connection to the region and allows them to be recognised nationally as well,” says the report.