New-age firms are acquiring content companies to get more control on output, as they increasingly focus on a content-first approach for customer acquisition.
Shivangi Gulati relies heavily on POPxo for taking style inspiration and make-up tips. The New Delhi based 27-year old HR professional often ends up buying products recommended by content creators in do-it-yourself (DIY) tutorial videos.
“.. it saves time and also helps me with making smart buying decisions since I understand little about make-up,” she says.
Gulati is among over 80 odd millions users that visit POPxo and its corresponding social media handles where text and video led content is churned out on a daily basis.
POPxo, which was launched in March 2014 by Priyanka Gill, with a sole aim to cater to educated Indian women who were consuming content across global fashion and lifestyle websites, was acquired by The Good Glamm Group in August 2020.
Since then, the content-to-commerce unicorn has been on acquisition spree taking over popular content firms such as The Mom’s Co, Baby Chakra, ScoopWhoop and more recently celebrity and influencer talent management network MissMalini Entertainment.
In December 2021, Honasa Consumer, the parent company of direct-to-consumer or D2C brand Mamaearth, also acquired woman-focused content platform Momspresso and its associated influencer engagement platform Momspresso MyMoney for an undisclosed amount.
Founded in 2010 by Vishal Gupta, Momspresso is a content platform for mothers and expecting mothers. According to the platform, over 95% of the content on the platform is user-generated content created by more than 60,000 mom bloggers in English, Hindi and eight other regional languages. Momspresso claims to have over 30 million users every month.
According to data by KPMG, India currently has over 800 D2C brands, with the sector being worth approximately $44.6 billion in 2021 and projected to touch $100 billion by 2025. The demand for these online-first brands is increasing by the day.
Given increased competition in the space, brands are increasingly diversifying their consumer acquisition channel and focussing on retention. Experts believe that new age companies are increasingly focussing on acquiring new customers through effective marketing, content-first approach and influencer marketing.
Engagement to drive commerce
The reality is that D2C brands find it really difficult to engage with customers, says Sreedhar Prasad, internet business expert and former partner at KPMG. He explains that in order to have consumers to engage and that engagement giving multiplicity to the revenues will only happen through content.
For instance, for a beauty based brand the content could be across formats such as videos, blogs by dermatologists, make-up artists and bloggers. Hence, potential customers find multiple reasons to come to a brand owned platform otherwise they will only come when the brand spends money on retargeting, digital and social media.
“Content becomes a stronger driver for the customer to come to your platform and that’s the reason companies are really buying content platforms because content is engagement. Beauty and health are the most popular categories,” Prasad notes.
Reduced customer acquisition costs
The cost of customer acquisition tends to reduce dramatically if a company invests in high-quality content. Users will end up thronging to a brand’s website/social media platforms looking for relevant content and it becomes easier to gently push products once they start coming to the content platforms regularly.
Therefore, content ends up reducing the cost of customer acquisition for new age direct-to-consumer (D2C) firms, points out Anirudh Singla, co-founder and CEO, Pepper Content.
“ScoopWhoop, for instance, is great at creating content, driving narrative and has a large distribution. So they are acquiring a target segment and building a distribution network. So, instead of spending money on performance marketing they have acquired a captive audience base by acquiring ScoopWhoop which will have very high-quality data around users on time spent, interests etc,” he notes.
Agrees Priyanka Gill, co-founder, Good Glamm Group who believes that content is the cheapest and the most effective way to acquire sticky customers.
“Brands and e-commerce platform’s biggest challenge has been in marketing and we have found out the magic bullet to solve that is content and creators,” she tells Storyboard18. “Acquiring other content firms would increase our brand, our moot with content to commerce and give us an incumbent status with the first-mover advantage in the industry.”
Sreedhar Prasad thinks that content is now converting customers not discounts. “D2C brand will hit the glass ceiling at Rs 100-200 crore and content is required to break the glass ceiling so that they become a widespread brand in the country. If you don’t have content then one has to resort to deep discounting and heavy marketing budgets to push products while engagement will only drive the brands,” he cautions.
Outsoucing vs Inhousing
Acquisitions of a content company gives brands more control over what’s being produced over when the content work is outsourced to an agency, says Rubeena Singh, country manager of VerSe Innovation’s short video platform Josh.
“Agencies tend to take more time and they are generalists while an in-house content arm would be a specialist. It is becoming important in digital to speak to the consumer through content that’s why companies are acquiring companies and controlling the narrative,” she points out.
Form of content is changing too, Singh is quick to note. She adds that it’s no longer just text, there’s video content, AR, NFTs, metaverse so content formats are evolving very quickly with technology and sometimes companies end up working with multiple agencies and integration jobs become hard.
“Agencies are also working with multiple clients so it becomes a challenge to ensure that they prioritize your work. Therefore, large companies in-housing works out economically and they can control their output better,” Singh concludes.
They used to say 'content is king'. But it seems that content is the key to the kingdom and these new-age brands want the key firmly in their hands.