It is only recently that Bharat or India which lies beyond the urban centers has become the object of attention as far as business is concerned. One of the reasons for this change must be attributed to India’s startup ecosystem which realized the vast opportunities that lay beyond the major cities. Such a startup that has done its part to bring Bharat prominently is social video commerce platform content creators and influencers with a particular focus on non-urban India.. He has worked on creating a platform for aspiring
Since July 2021, the Trell platform has presented Over 500 brands, with 70% of purchases in Tier II and Tier III cities. On the platform, users consume or create content in categories such as beauty and wellness, health and fitness, food, travel, in eight regional languages. These include Marathi, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and English.
More than 60% of Trell’s user base are women between the ages of 18 and 35, from Tier II cities and above, who actively create more than 70% of the platform’s content.
“People identify with content when they think it’s real. Shahrukh Khan does not use Lux, but an influencer uses it and shares his experience in his own language. People believe in it and that’s the power of influencers,” Bimal Kartheek Rebba, Co-Founder and COO (Chief Operating Officer) at Trell tells YourStory about Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma at YourStory New India Marks mega summit.
Launched in 2017, Trell is a lifestyle-focused social commerce startup based in Bengaluru with over 50 million monthly active users. It was founded by Arun Lodhi, Bimal and Pulkit Agrawal. The platform works in a way that creators can talk about products in their videos. If viewers want to purchase them, they can do so from Trell itself, directly from the video.
“It’s the easiest and most engaging way to discover products and services and the content is mostly generated by the community of influencers we’ve built over the years,” says Bimal.
Building on the D2C Opportunity
According to the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Index, over the next five years, approximately 80% of consumers shopping online will buy from D2C brands at least once. As Bimal points out, the total value that could be created in the D2C ecosystem by 2025 is expected to reach $200 billion. Not only is the number of D2C entrepreneurs increasing, but the capital dedicated to them is accumulating year after year.
But at the same time, new categories appear almost every other day, while some old ones disappear. The brands are at war on all fronts whether it is the price range, the type of product or the quality of the products. While the first wave of distribution was led by big corporations and celebrities, now all you have to do is get online, get people’s attention, and they’ll watch you. It is therefore an entirely new definition of distribution, as Bima points out.
“We believe that if you don’t have a differentiated product, have very frequent conversations where influencer marketing influence alone will give you return on investment (ROI) because you can’t let Shahrukh Khan talk about your product every day, right?
And here influencers and users are going to play a very important role. Their conversations will only multiply, and if brands aren’t part of that communication, they’re probably fighting a losing battle.
“That’s how we see things. The growth of D2C brands is centered on their power of brand recall and this is where platforms like Trell would eventually come. Moreover, this awareness must occur consistently, and not just on the basis of a campaign. Our goal is to create real-time stories for brands as well as influencers, educating the end consumer, helping them understand the need for that particular brand and putting it at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. »
Deepening E-Commerce in Bharat
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that e-commerce has been pretty well solved for India. However, Trell aims to bring e-commerce to markets that are still somewhat inaccessible due to the information disparity that still exists.
“Our mission statement is: how can we move into those markets that have disposable income and an affinity to experiment and aspire to buy good brands, but don’t have access or understanding,” says Bimal.
He thinks video is an important medium here. “You only have 170 million buyers today, right? But you have 500 million people actually watching videos online. This therefore means that there is a lot of room for growth in this market.
Bimal develops“It needs investment. If you do, it takes six months, a year, but eventually people will find your products. For example, India produces 300 crore to 400 crore bottles of nail polish every year. There are local brands that actually make revenue of Rs 80 crore to Rs 100 crore per year, and no one knows about it, as they are doing very well in these local markets. To use these local markets, it is necessary to have a diversified communication.
Ensure brand credibility and trust
In the D2C and influencer-led shopping space, factual accuracy and trust are key pillars. Chances are that the whole influencer marketing thing will fall apart causing a domino effect if this problem is not addressed.
At Trell, before an influencer engages with a brand, they are required to follow a grooming program. First, the community team walks them through things like product categories, talking to end users and generally educating users through content and more.
The second step is to ensure that no lines are crossed which could impact brand equity.
“If they liked the product, they can report it. If they don’t like the product, they can also state why it didn’t work for them. It is important to highlight the reasons why it may work for some people so that the credibility of the brand is not affected in any way.
And the third “most important thing” Trell does is encourage brands to accept feedback from influencers even if it’s negative.
“No product, no brand is built in a day. Nestlé has taken 150 years to perfect baby food. So now, if you want to launch a baby food, you have to have certain iterations. So this is where influencers as subject matter experts come into play.
Show me the money, baby
Today, influencers create their own music videos, video content, become anchors, participate in web series and more. But from a monetization perspective, things are still tough for the most part.
“Less than 3% of these influencers today earn more than 40,000 rupees a month and only a handful get the top dollars. And that’s where I think as a platform we try to figure out how we work with influencers so that they have enough potential to monetize [sic]“, explains Bimal.
He further explains – one option is to make influencers part of the brand revenue, as well as every sale, “that they are actually able to get for a brand.” Trell helps them by giving them a platform and the tools to educate the public about a brand and generate perpetual revenue on the interface for a single content.
“In this way, what we want to do is make them an integral part of the whole commerce ecosystem just on brand. So that means as commerce continues to grow in India, influencers will also start earning every part of the sale made through this, so this is an initiative that we are taking, which we believe will encourage many influencers to go beyond that bucket of Rs 40,000 per month.
The road ahead
India is currently brimming with the hopes and ambitions of a burgeoning creative community. Worth over $100 billion and powered by over 50 million creators, this is a new class of “content takers” and Trell finds itself at an exciting and bustling crossroads here.
He has raised a total of $61.9 million in funding and is backed by investors such as Fosun RZ Capital, H&M CO:LAB and Mirae Asset-Naver Growth Fund, among others. The Street expects the startup to soon reach the magic $1 billion valuation figure and enter the hallowed club of unicorns (startups valued at $1 billion or more).
Trell points out that it doesn’t plan to build a horizontal ecosystem like Flipkart or Amazon, but rather in categories “that could help add value, or help people discover, give them enough content so they can make better decisions.”
“That’s where we’re absolutely focused. Through video, influencers and regional languages, we want to solve this problem. The market is too big for us. If we are able to solve this problem very well, we could sustainably stay well in this market by itself. So that’s where we want to focus,” concludes Bimal.
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