The rise of Indian YouTubers

YouTube in India is on the rise. 225 million Indians have access to YouTube (source: Yourstory) and tune into it on a regular basis …and this number is growing daily. And for brands and marketers throughout the country this means that they have a whole new channel for influencer marketing! And if you’re a marketer like me, then you’re definitely going to want a handy ebook to help you figure out how influencer marketing works. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our free ebook.


This growing number represents great potential for YouTube as a medium to grow into a channel to reach the masses. Moreover, according to Google, YouTube India sees a larger traction than other markets — where over 65% of the viewers subscribe to channels.

Brands of course are not too far behind and have begun to tie up with YouTubers to promote their products and services. Video consumption in the internet has grown 5X in India in just 2017, according to HotStar’s India Watch Report, 2018. And who better to create video content than YouTubers? Video is therefore the latest craze and every brand — whether B2B or B2C — is slowly adopting a video marketing strategy.

How brands collaborate with top YouTubers in India

In the last couple of years, more and more brands have been waking up to the fact that YouTube can be considered a serious channel for the promotion of their products and services. It’s not just brands with a mass following such as those in the beauty or fashion industries that have jumped onto the YouTube bandwagon, but also software (WhatsApp) and gadgets (OnePlus) that have entered this space with a bang.

Moreover, collaborating with YouTubers is a lot cheaper than tying up with movie stars (which is a traditional method of generating awareness in India) — a video costs anywhere between 12,000 INR to 1,00,000 INR, which is definitely a fraction of the budget needed for an influencer partnership with a celebrity. Moreover, though celebrities have broader reach and mass appeal, they lack a targeted audience with high levels of engagement which is what most brands are after. And of course credibility — because YouTubers connect with their audiences at another level.

Top YouTubers in India and the brands they’ve collaborated with

Here’s a quick look at some of the top YouTubers in India and the brands they have partnered with in the last couple of years.

It’s not all fame and glory for YouTubers, we had the chance to chat with @BeerBiceps and here’s what he has to say about life as a YouTuber “Life as a YouTuber is how you want it to be — you can play it easy and not have really high quality content or take on that many brand assignments or you can play the difficult game. It’s up to you but in case you choose the difficult life, you’re promised fast growth but you’d have to sacrifice your social life, aspects of your relationships — but it’s a very rewarding life. Above all it’s an addictive process — you get addicted to adding value to people’s life. When you sleep at night, you feel grateful and with a sense of achievement every single day.”

Looking at the infographic above, it’s clear that the majority of brands that are partnering with influencers are lifestyle brands, media, tech brands and internet companies. Another thing to note is that the YouTubers featured here are not necessarily those with the most viewed channels in India — they’re a breed of hand-picked YouTubers that resonate with the target audience of most of the brands mentioned. Some brands also adopt multi-influencer strategies. For e.g., Dove, in India has collaborated with a large number of Instagram fashionistas to reach their target audience. Saloni Chopra, Ayushi Anand, Kubbra Sait and many more.

This is also something that OnePlus India has done with much success. Especially their unboxing campaign with their phones where they featured several YouTubers such as Zakir Khan, Amit Bhawaani, Biswa Kalyan Rath and many more.

This way brands ensure that they have a good mix of people and tap into the audiences of several influencers.

Other brands prefer to work not with a single influencer but with groups of influencers who are part of the same organization such as AIB -they had really successful collaborations with Swiggy, TrulyMadly, Bacardi, etc. Scherzaade Shroff (younger sister of Anaita Shroff Adjania) and her husband, Vaibhav Talwar of Coupling! fame have successfully collaborated with brands like LifeStyle and more. EIC ( a comedy group in the same vein as AIB) partnered with Budweiser, ET Money, Diageo. The numbers look great for EIC’s partnership with Diageo. They’ve seen organic engagement go up from 4,500 to 100,000 on their social pages ever since EIC started working with them. ( . They’ve even brought about a conversion rate of 50% on their large-scale video promotions.

YouTube India and how it has evolved

YouTube is the second most used search engine globally after Google, and YouTube India reports that its usage and engagement rates are way ahead of the curve. From just 16 channels in 2014, to a channel with one of the highest number of subscribers (T-series, 82.7 million, just 200k short of Pewdiepie — the channel with the highest number) and over 225 million YouTube users (as of 2018), YouTube has come a long way in India. One of the main reasons for this could be that the platform is free and India is more open to free platforms as a whole.

Moreover, YouTube has made it even easier for Indians to access their platform with YouTube Go — the app that is much lighter on data consumption and therefore more customized to emerging markets like India where people generally used prepaid data packages and plans. Interestingly, the app was first conceptualized in 2014, after the YouTube team had a series of conversations with YouTube users in India who complained that it was hard for them to use the app since it consumed way too much data.

YouTube Go therefore has made the usage and consumption of YouTube much easier, providing a much larger user base for YouTubers to engage with. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that India is the largest consumer of YouTube globally — just after America. In fact, According to Satya Raghavan (director of content partnerships at YouTube India), 2 YouTubers are crossing the 1 million subscriber milestone every week. Moreover, according to Marc Lefkowitz, head of YouTube Content Creator and Artist Development, APAC, growth is largely coming from vernacular content. He told The Economic Times last year that YouTube content in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil and Telegu are poised to grow by 40% this year and 60% of the growth of YouTube users comes from non-metro areas. Both of these numbers could possibly explain the huge amount of content that is being floated on YouTube in vernacular languages today, along with Hindi (India’s official language). This could also explain why YouTubers who create content in languages other than English — Zakir Khan, Technical GuruJi, BB Ki vines have the most popular YouTube channels in India.

YouTube creator and funnyman Abish Mathew says: “Youtube in India is a great marketing engine as your average audience goes to youtube for music, comedy, even to make sure your baby stops crying. Where other paid platforms guarantee quality, youtube is a place where people are truly democratic with their choice & hence is the perfect place for brands to chose who they would like associate with.” It’s no surprise therefore that more and more brands are turning to YouTube for promoting their products and services.

A list of Indian YouTubers

Now the question is, if you’re a brand looking to grow your consumer base by collaborating with a YouTuber, where should you start? We’ve put together a curated list of YouTubers per industry that you could contact for a collab (or two).

YouTube marketing and the future

What can Indian brands takeaway from YouTube? Simple: it is the fastest growing new channel to reach your target audience. Video marketing shows no sign of slowing down in 2019 and YouTube is the main channel for this. Starting a YouTube channel for your brand can be awesome, but it’s also a LOT of work. And if you’re looking to increase engagement with your brand and grab the right eye-balls, you should consider working with a YouTuber. They say content is king, and no one knows the kind of content that works on YouTube better than YouTubers. So if you’re looking to spend your marketing budget wisely, try collaborating with a YouTuber, it be the difference between a good marketing strategy and a great one.



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