Exploring the Top Digital Trends Reshaping Industries in 2024

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In 2024, India’s digital world is buzzing with exciting trends that are changing how people connect and make choices online. From social media’s influence on shopping to the comeback of astrology and the shift towards inclusive beauty, there’s a lot happening. In this blog, we’ll explore these trends and more, diving into how they’re shaping India’s digital scene this year.

How India is Using the Internet?

It was pretty clear that India’s Internet penetration has increased over the years when we went from suspicious and gorgeous to sus and slayyyyy. The below-mentioned data points suggest that 90% of internet users are using the internet daily. The question arises: what effect does it have on us? Does it influence our thoughts, our purchasing behavior, and us in general? We will try to find answers to these questions in this blog.

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Social Media Influence

Social media is good at a lot of things, but it’s great at 2 things in particular: When people are uncertain about a topic, social media can convincingly influence a particular position. But if a level of certainty exists, social media can provide all the affirmation needed to validate that belief — and it doesn’t matter the topic. Ever heard of confirmation bias? Yes, social media is the best place to confirm your bias and opinions.

“The confirmation bias describes our underlying tendency to notice, focus on, and give greater credence to evidence that fits with our existing beliefs.”

What effect does it have on our purchasing behavior?

The customer journey has become lightning-fast these days, almost like a blink-and-you-miss-it scenario. Imagine back in the day, someone might have heard about a product, seen commercials on TV for weeks, and then finally made a trip to the store to buy it. Now, thanks to social media and e-commerce, that process can happen in minutes.

According to Forbes, 81% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by their friends’ posts on social media, and 78% of consumers state their purchases are influenced by posts on the social media pages of brands. Moreover, as per data from the Global Web Index, 54% of social media users research products on social media. 

Meanwhile, Deloitte states that nearly 30% of social media users are ready to make a purchase on the same day they encounter a product on social media. It’s like they see something cool, click a link, and voilà! They’ve made a purchase.

Brand and Influencers

By seeing how easily people are influenced by people whom they can relate or connect to, a new trend emerged of brands collaborating with influencers.  According to Statista, influencer marketing has grown into a $21.1 billion industry. This is a significant increase of 29% from $16.4 billion in the previous year.

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Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Well, partnering with just celebrity influencers didn’t last for long as people were not able to relate with them, so now brands have changed their strategy, they’re moving away from big celebrities and partnering with influencers who feel more like regular folks to their audience.

Accounts with fewer than 5,000 followers typically have an engagement rate of around 4.21%, which is considered good nowadays. However, once you surpass 100,000 followers, it’s rare to see an engagement rate higher than 1%.

Smaller influencers are becoming more favored by brands due to their higher engagement rates. According to HubSpot’s 2023 Social Media Marketing Report, 80% of influencer marketers collaborate with creators who have under 100,000 followers. In contrast, only 16% work with celebrity influencers boasting over 1 million followers.

But just relating to influencers isn’t enough, people need authenticity.  As paid content flooded social media, skepticism grew, and sooner they started questioning the influencers, then what happened? Here emerges the very first trend of 2024 the “de-influence”

Under the (De)Influence 

This movement goes beyond a passing fancy. The massive popularity of #deinfluencing on TikTok, with over 248 million views, reflects a major shift in consumer behavior. We’re bombarded with ads everywhere and frankly, we’re tired of influencer fatigue.  People crave genuineness and want to make smart choices, not impulse buys. Deinfluencers deliver this message, often with a dash of humor.

Deinfluencing isn’t all about negativity, though. It empowers viewers to be informed shoppers. Take skincare, for instance. Deinfluencers, including dermatologists, are debunking the myth of needing a complex, expensive routine.  Sometimes, a simple cleanser and moisturizer is all you need for a healthy skin.

Here’s some data to consider:  a whopping 85% of Gen Z shoppers, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, say social media influences their purchases.  Nearly half (49%) browse or shop directly on social media platforms at least once a week.

Most Influential Platforms 

PlatformsPercentage
Instagram45%
TikTok45%
YouTube38%
Facebook24%
Snapchat17%
X14%
Source: International Council of Shopping Centers
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Deinfluencing: A Weapon Against Overconsumption, But Will It Win the War?

Deinfluencing is a breath of fresh air in a world saturated with “must-have” product pitches. But can it truly curb our spending habits and stop overconsumption?

There’s reason to be optimistic. Deinfluencing resonates with a growing sentiment of influencer fatigue. Consumers bombarded with ads and unrealistic portrayals, crave authenticity and critical thinking. Deinfluencers deliver this with humor and honesty, empowering viewers to make informed decisions.

The impact is undeniable.  Consider the massive popularity of #deinfluencing on TikTok, with over 248 million views.  Furthermore, data from the International Council of Shopping Centers reveals a generation heavily influenced by social media: 85% of Gen Z shoppers say social media impacts their purchases, and nearly half (49%) browse or shop directly on these platforms at least weekly. Deinfluencing has the potential to disrupt this cycle.

Deinfluencing faces challenges; Here’s why it might not be a silver bullet

The Algorithm’s Grip: Social media platforms prioritize engagement, which can favor sensational content (positive or negative) over balanced perspectives. Deinfluencing content might not get the same algorithmic boost as traditional influencer marketing.

The Power of Aspiration: Deinfluencing tackles unnecessary purchases, but some consumers might still be swayed by aspirational marketing, the desire to achieve a certain lifestyle through products.

The Lure of Convenience: Social media shopping offers ease and instant gratification, tempting consumers even if they’re aware of deinfluencing messages.

Despite these challenges, deinfluencing is a significant step towards mindful consumption. It fosters a culture of critical thinking and empowers individuals to resist impulsive buying.  Combined with other efforts like financial literacy education and sustainable product promotion, deinfluencing has the potential to make a real dent in overconsumption.

While deinfluencing is taking aim at mindless consumerism, another surprising trend is emerging – the growing fascination with astrology.

The Stars Align: Why Astrology is Back in Vogue 

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There’s a surge in demand for astrologers and astrology-related content, particularly among Millennials and Gen Z. But what’s behind this rise in popularity in the age of science and skepticism? Here are some possible explanations, backed by data:

Seeking Direction in Uncertain Times:  The past few years have been a whirlwind of challenges. Astrology, with its framework for understanding personality traits and life cycles,  might offer a sense of comfort and guidance.

The Rise of Self-Discovery (Especially Among Millennials and Gen Z):  Millennials and Gen Z are particularly interested in personal growth and self-exploration. Astrology can be a tool for self-reflection, helping people understand their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. A 2019 study by the Barna Group found that 84% of Millennials say they are interested in growing as a person. Astrology taps into this desire for self-discovery.

Entertainment with a Twist:  Astrology-themed content can be engaging and entertaining. It adds a unique layer to social media posts, articles, and even dating profiles. A 2022 survey by YouGov revealed that 42% of respondents find astrology at least somewhat interesting, demonstrating its entertainment value.

Astrology among Indians

Facing pay cuts, career stagnation, and the threat of layoffs, young professionals are turning to the stars for answers.  Astrology platforms are experiencing a boom in consultations, particularly from young professionals aged 23-35. These consultations focus heavily on career issues, with people seeking advice on promotions, career paths, and even whether to switch jobs altogether.

Hemang Arunbhai Pandit, the founder of GaneshSpeaks.com, has witnessed this trend firsthand.  His platform has seen a tenfold increase in consultations from young professionals in recent years. The financial results back this up. GaneshSpeaks’ revenue has grown by 58% year-on-year, and a staggering 70% compared to two years ago. Astrotalk, another major player,  shows similar growth, with revenue tripling in just two years.

Interestingly, Gen Z is leading the charge. They make up a whopping 60% of online astrology users, compared to 40% of non-Gen Z users. This highlights a growing openness to astrology among younger demographics. The trend isn’t limited to big cities either. Metro areas like Delhi and Mumbai are hubs, but cities like Lucknow, Jaipur, and Ludhiana are also seeing a rise in online astrology users, making this a nationwide phenomenon.

There are likely several reasons behind this rise. The uncertain economic climate and job market can be stressful, and astrology might offer a sense of comfort and direction. Millennials and Gen Z, with their focus on self-discovery, might also see astrology as a tool for understanding their strengths and potential career paths. Finally, the easy access provided by online astrology platforms caters perfectly to the tech-savvy nature of young professionals.

Whether you find solace in the stars or not, one thing is clear: astrology is having a moment in India, and it’s being driven by a generation facing a complex future.

Fading Fairness: How Glowing Skin is Replacing the Lightening Obsession

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For decades, fairness creams dominated the skincare market, promising a lighter complexion and a shortcut to beauty. But times are changing. The “fairness” narrative is losing its charm. Consumers are growing conscious of the unrealistic standards it promotes and the colorist undertones it reinforces. As a result, the market research firm Nielsen reported a 3% decline in volume in 2023 from the previous year.

But where did this fairness narrative come from, colonization? Not really!

'Yashomati maiyya se bole Nand lala, Radha kyun gori, main kyun kala' — a devotional song has a tiny Lord Krishna beseeching his foster mother to find why his lady love is fair while he is dark. Much before India was invaded by fair skinned people, the country has been fascinated by the lighter colour of skin. In Sanskrit, the term 'Asuryasparsh' is used to define he who is untanned, untouched by the sun's heat, and is therefore pure and affluent.

(Source:Economic times)

Bollywood damsels have been the face of fairness creams in India, perpetuating the myth that these products are the secret to beauty while airbrushing the real factors – makeup artists, plastic surgery, and genetics. From Padmini Kolhapure to Juhi Chawla, these stars have endorsed the idea that fair skin is superior, impacting the self-esteem of countless Indian women.

This obsession with fairness wasn’t limited to just celebrity endorsements. Soap operas in the mid-2000s became breeding grounds for fairness cream advertisements. These intrusive sales pitches, often lasting several minutes, disrupted the narrative flow and prioritized profit over storytelling. A particularly egregious example comes from a 2008 Pond’s campaign. The 45-second ad series features a love triangle where Priyanka Chopra’s character is heartbroken after being dumped by Saif Ali Khan. The implication? That her supposedly insufficient fairness is to blame. Thankfully, this kind of blatant colorism is facing a growing backlash.

The "Dark is Beautiful" campaign launched by the non-profit organization Women of Worth in 2009 marked a turning point. Actresses like Nandita Das joined the movement, challenging the bias against darker skin tones. Films like Madhur Bhandarkar's "Traffic Signal" and international media criticism further highlighted the problematic nature of fairness cream advertising.

Facing mounting pressure, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) rebranded its Fair & Lovely product line as Glow & Lovely in 2020. Similarly, L’Oreal removed colorist language from its skincare range. Other companies like Cavinkare, Himalaya, Emami, Revlon, and Biotique have also shifted their marketing focus from fairness to promoting radiant, glowing, or even-toned skin.

However, the question remains: is this a genuine shift or just a rebranding exercise?  While the new terminology might sound more inclusive, it’s crucial to see if these companies are truly committed to dismantling the underlying prejudice against darker skin. The fight for color positivity in India is far from over, but the growing awareness and activism offer a glimmer of hope for a more inclusive future.

From Shelf to Screen: FMCG Companies are Conquering E-commerce in India 

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Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in India are witnessing a digital revolution. Traditionally sold through brick-and-mortar stores, everyday household products like soaps, detergents, and shampoos are now finding a new home on e-commerce platforms. This shift targets the mass market, making these essential items more accessible and affordable to a wider audience.

Leading FMCG giants like Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Parle, Dabur, and Emami are at the forefront of this change. They’re developing digital-first products, specifically designed for online sales. 

Parle Products is launching its online packs at Rs.70-90 from the earlier Rs.120 plus or bundling multiple small packs. “This was bound to happen since volumes for digital-first or digital products will only come when prices come down or there are new products targeting mass segment,” said Parle Products senior category head Mayank Shah to Economic Times.

The advantages of a digital-first FMCG strategy can be broken down into two categories: benefits for companies and benefits for consumers.

For Companies

Reduced Costs: Selling directly online allows companies to potentially bypass intermediaries in the supply chain, leading to lower operational costs. These savings can translate to higher profits or be passed on to consumers through competitive pricing.

Wider Customer Reach: E-commerce platforms provide access to a vast and diverse customer base that may not be reached through traditional brick-and-mortar stores. This includes geographically remote areas and those who prefer the convenience of online shopping.

Increased Sales Volume: By reaching new customer segments and potentially offering lower prices, FMCG companies can significantly boost overall sales volume.

Data-Driven Insights: Online sales generate valuable data on customer behavior and preferences. This data can be used to develop targeted marketing campaigns, personalize product offerings, and optimize pricing strategies.

Improved Brand Image: A strong online presence can help FMCG companies project a modern and innovative image, potentially attracting new customers and strengthening brand loyalty.

For Consumers

Affordability: Competitive pricing online can lead to significant savings on everyday essentials. This is especially beneficial for budget-conscious shoppers.

Convenience: Online shopping offers convenience and time-saving benefits. Consumers can browse products, compare prices, and place orders from the comfort of their homes.

Wider Selection: E-commerce platforms can offer a wider variety of products compared to physical stores, allowing consumers to find niche items or specific brands.

Transparency and Reviews: Online platforms often provide access to product information, reviews, and ratings, empowering consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

The New ROI-Driven Approach to Social Media: Focusing on Champions, Not Every Platform

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Gone are the days of blindly following the mantra “Be where your audience is” across every social media platform.  Today’s reality? The average user juggles a whopping seven platforms a month, making it a mammoth task for brands to maintain an active presence on all of them.

This struggle is reflected in the top ROI concern for social media according to a recent Hootsuite Social Trends Survey: organizations fear diminishing returns on investment spread across so many channels.

Why is Social Media ROI So Challenging?

Maintaining a thriving presence across multiple platforms requires significant time and resources. Here’s a breakdown of the hurdles:

Content Tailoring: Each platform has its unique audience, language, trends, and visual requirements. Tailoring content for each platform multiplies the workload.

Constant Change: Social media platforms are in a perpetual state of flux. New features and user behaviors emerge constantly, forcing marketers to play catch-up.

The Rise of the ROI-Driven Approach

Thankfully, a strategic shift is underway.  Organizations are leveraging ROI data to make informed decisions about their social media presence. This means prioritizing platforms that deliver the highest return on investment, not just blindly following user numbers.

Take Twitter/X for example. While 60% of organizations maintain a presence there, only a third see a strong benefit to their business. This disconnect might explain the 7% drop in brand use on the platform. Today, brands are more willing to say goodbye to platforms that don’t deliver on their ROI expectations.

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This Hootsuite Social Trends Survey (2024) reveals a shift in brand behavior. Businesses are leaving platforms that don’t deliver value. This translates to a decrease in brand presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and WhatsApp from 2022 to 2023.

Moving forward, strategic brands will prioritize their social media efforts based on platform-specific ROI. This means focusing resources and attention on “right” platforms that deliver results, and potentially even abandoning underperforming channels altogether.

In essence, the social media landscape is evolving towards a more streamlined and results-oriented approach. By focusing on champion platforms and measuring ROI, brands can maximize their social media impact and achieve their business goals.

Conclusion

The digital world in India is experiencing a remarkable transformation. This shift is driven by a combination of factors: the way people consume online, the latest advancements in technology, and how companies approach marketing. Social media holds immense power in influencing buying decisions, but there’s also a growing trend of “deinfluencing” and a resurgence of interest in traditional practices like astrology. This highlights a fascinating interplay between modern trends and time-tested ideas, reflecting both a desire for new experiences and a connection to established values.

Another key trend is the beauty industry’s embrace of inclusivity. Fairness products are being re-evaluated to promote a more diverse and empowered vision. Additionally, FMCG companies are leveraging the power of e-commerce to reach a wider audience and offer their products at more accessible price points.

In this dynamic environment, a strategic approach to social media ROI becomes crucial for brands. Focusing on platforms that deliver measurable results and resonate with their target audience is essential for businesses to stay ahead of the curve.

In essence, the digital trends shaping India in 2024 emphasize the need for companies to be agile, authentic, and possess a deep understanding of their customers’ preferences. By adapting to these evolving trends, businesses can pave the way for sustainable growth and forge meaningful connections with their audience in the digital age.

So, the internet in India is a mixed bag – it can be a place to be influenced, but also empowered. It’s a way to connect, shop, and even seek guidance under the stars. The bottom line? The internet is changing the way everyday Indians live, work, and even think about life. So buckle up, this digital bazaar is just getting started!

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Megha Singh

I am a mosaic of every person, thing, or substance I have loved even for a heartbeat. I love this world in all those grey areas where it's not just black and white. Every day I learn and unlearn things to become a better and beautiful version of myself so that one day I can proudly say ' You made it girl'

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