A closer look into the world of Indian Snapchat through an advertiser's lens
Snapchat has made a decent name for itself as a video-sharing social media platform in its 11 years of existence. The US-based company recently reinvigorated its approach in the Indian market by appointing Ajit Mohan, a Meta veteran. Mohan will be leading Snapchat's business in the Asia Pacific region, which is its biggest market globally.
Snapchat distinguishes itself from other apps by being one of the first social media platforms to rely on, and promote, chatting through images and videos. Its popularity across the globe has grown slowly. India leads in terms of numbers, with over 100 million active monthly users.
As per Snapchat's website, the brand identifies itself as a tech company, not a social media company. "We believe the camera presents the greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate," reads the company’s vision statement.
Snapchat was co-founded by Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel. The company provides various filters, effects, texts, etc., for users to create ‘Snaps’, which they can then share with people in their network or directly with their friends, etc.
‘Snaps’ also feature sounds and music that are available on the app. The platform has different kinds of lenses as well as filters, out of which some are patented in the name of the company, while many others are created by individuals.
The app accesses your contacts and suggests users you may know. You can also manually search for users on the app. These users may include people you may know or are not in your contact list, as well as celebrities and digital influencers.
Snapchat users can also create a persona or an ‘avatar’ that resembles them. They can use their ‘avatars’ in (in-app) conversations as well as peoples’ stories.
The app also has other unique features. The map feature lets users position their ‘avatars’ on the map. This can be shared with the people in your friends' list. The map also shows densely populated areas near your location. The most recent addition to the app, is the discover page, which has a similar interface to Instagram Reels.
Interestingly, the app does feature original shows, typically of short video formats, as would be expected. These are titled 'Snap Originals' and are available on Snapchat's YouTube channel as well. One of their recent efforts to develop content for the Indian market was the 'Phone Swap' show, which they launched for Indian audience.
Snapchat’s interface and working model are somewhat similar to Instagram. However, the number of users active on both platforms vary significantly. Over 230 million Indians are active on Instagram, as compared to Snapchat’s over 100 million.
Snapchat primarily appeals to the younger generation. Data from Statista reveals that 85% of Snapchat users in India were below the age of 35, as of January 2022. As per Snapchat data, an active user spends about 30 minutes a day on the app. This relationship with the younger population is its major appeal for various brands.
Explaining the brand's appeal in India, Prasad Shejale, co-founder & CEO, Logicserve Digital, a digital marketing agency, says, "Snapchat’s appeal lies in the augmented reality (AR) filter, focus on the youth, and higher engagement time. The AR feature is a major part of daily Snapchat usage. It generates higher levels of interaction and recall.”
"Snapchat’s appeal lies in the augmented reality (AR) filter, focus on the youth, and higher engagement time. The AR feature is a major part of daily Snapchat usage. It generates higher levels of interaction and recall.”Prasad Shejale, co-founder & CEO, Logicserve Digital
“In an investor overview, Snapchat claimed that over 200 million (or 63%) of the platform’s daily active users engage with AR features, like filter, every day. A business that can incorporate AR into its strategy, is going to have a head start, in terms of engaging with Snapchat users."
The company has had some branding associations in India for different IPs. It collaborated with Ludo Club for Snap Games, NDTV and Moj for SnapKit, along with mobile partners Jio and Samsung for the distribution of the app on smartphones.
Even though Snapchat has made some waves, it has yet to leave a mark on companies that are looking to expand their social media presence. The number of such brand collaborations in India is less than what one may expect.
Sahil Shah, managing partner, WATConsult, a full-service digital agency that is a part of Dentsu International, opines that the reason behind Snapchat's difficulty in getting through to the marketers, is quite evident.
"Snapchat, as a platform, is not putting in a lot of marketing muscle behind positioning itself directly to the consumers as well as brands. I have not seen a lot of big bucks being spent by the company to position itself strongly in the market. It is not working hard enough to make sure that it is a part of a company’s media plans or strategies. It is not going all out to convince marketers and media planners to adopt the platform as a viable resource."
Shah adds that other app-led platforms, like Spotify and Meta, heavily push their product in the public eye, an area where Snapchat is lagging.
The appointment of Mohan, however, can change this, he feels.
"Ajit Mohan's appointment is an interesting move for the company. Maybe now, there will be more focus on advertising. Or maybe, the grand plan is to do something even bigger."Sahil Shah, managing partner, WATConsult
Shejale of Logicserve Digital talks about why brand integrations aren't that fruitful. "The primary reason is poor analytics. It’s hard to check what works and what doesn’t. Also, Snapchat does not reach as wide of an audience as most social media platforms. It reaches around 11% of digital platform users, whereas a platform like Facebook reaches a whopping 81% of users."