How digital marketing is changing the way D2C market works in India – Exchange4Media

Guest Column: Naveen Murali, Vice President & Head of Marketing, Pepperfry, writes about brands effectively using the D2C route, finding the right channel mix & much more

As India is almost nudging ahead to the pole position in population, it is also becoming an extremely lucrative market for Direct to Consumer (D2C) businesses, given the digital and eCommerce penetration. The way brands are building their business strategy has evolved with the times and with the rise of digital marketing, more and more businesses are taking the D2C route. This effectively means that they are cutting out the middlemen and selling their products and services directly to the customer.
So, what does this mean for businesses in India? How are they changing the way they operate in order to tap into this growing market? Read on to find out more about how digital marketing is changing the D2C market in India. 
Enabling D2C brands to Scale within Budgets 
Digital marketing has changed the way consumers shop, especially in favour of the D2C brands, by making it within the reach of new-age D2C brands to drive the necessary brand awareness and intent, at scale at reasonable costs, thereby challenging the traditional brands in the space. By creating a consistent, cohesive and compelling online presence, brands are able to reach out to a larger audience with impactful communication. Additionally, by deploying the right digital tactics through search engine optimization and social media marketing, brands are able to further enhance their visibility and access to their core audience. As a result, digital marketing is rapidly changing the way the consumer shops and is making D2C brands strong contenders for a larger share of the consumer wallet.
One-Size-Fits-One Approach for the Specific Target Audience 
Marketing is no longer about creating one-size-fits-all campaigns and hoping that your target audience will see and respond to them. Digital marketing is all about providing you with the power to reach out to your specific target audience across their digital footprints at the precise moments with a personalized content strategy. For example, if you’re targeting millennials in New Delhi, you’ll need to use a different approach than if you were targeting middle-aged professionals in Chennai. The key is to deploy a One-Size-Fits-One approach by creating separate customized digital campaigns that address the specific needs and demands of each unique consumer within your target audience. 
Hence, understanding how your target audience uses digital channels is critical to targeting them right. Going deep to understand which platforms are being used in what fashion and what all influences their purchase decisions will help you create a sound digital marketing strategy that resonates with your target audience. 
Right Channel mix for the Right Consumer 
With a detailed understanding of the online behaviour of the consumer, D2C brands are able to build awareness, and trust as well as induce trials among target consumers, by using a healthy mix of paid and organic tactics with compelling content. Today there are multiple channels, which play out in the digital marketing playfield, right from Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Email Marketing, Social (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) apps, and Affiliates. Each channel needs to be evaluated basis of the business objective set and geared accordingly. Additionally, influencer marketing is springing up as another major source of building brand trust and awareness. Here, the reach and impact depend on the nature of the influencer that is getting engaged, be it a nano, micro, macro, or celebrity influencer. This is also becoming a good route to build compelling content at scale with reach. 
Bang for the Buck or Return on Rupee Spent 
As the ever-changing landscape of technology and consumer behaviour continues to present new challenges and opportunities, businesses must adapt their marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Digital marketing has become an essential tool for businesses, especially D2C brands, for whom it is a critical tool for providing reach and driving growth. In a world where customers are inundated with choices and can easily opt for any brand, digital marketing allows D2C brands to reach a wider audience with relative ease and at a significantly lower cost than traditional marketing channels. At these low costs, the ROI comes out to be extremely lucrative, especially for new-age businesses. What further sets apart digital marketing from traditional marketing is the ease of tracking the bang for the buck or the ability to exactly plot the returns received for every rupee spent, which was relatively questionable in the traditional forms. Additionally, digital channels can be used to mine valuable customer insights at a rapid pace that can be used to improve product/service offerings and personalize messages to specific segments. 
Embracing Newer Technology & Maximising Customer Experience 
The way customers interact with businesses and make purchase decisions have evolved dramatically in the past decade. In India, as more and more people gain access to the internet and smartphones, D2C businesses have rapidly embraced cutting-edge technology and are latching on to the latest trends, to maximize customer experience and build a strong differentiation. Other than having a compelling online website or app which optimizes user experience, being active on social media, investing in influencer outreach, and creating digital content such as blogs and video tutorials have all become cornerstones of digital success. Emerging and engaging modes like Conversational Commerce, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), MarTech platforms have all been proving to be game changers within the digital space. 
Overall, the move toward digital marketing has been beneficial for both businesses and customers. Customers now have more choice and convenience when it comes to making purchase decisions, while businesses can reach a wider audience with their custom-made campaigns within their budget. 
As the D2C space continues to evolve, so should the digital marketing strategies of these brands. By staying ahead of the latest trends and technologies, D2C brands can ensure that they are always providing a sought-after customer experience.
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By exchange4media Staff | Dec 29, 2022 11:46 AM   |   1 min read
To reinforce Shriram Finance Ltd’s commitment to millions of customers, R K SWAMY hit upon a compelling yet simple idea. Shriram is truly customer-centric and what better way than to say that the company is in a special jugalbandi with them.
Shriram and R K SWAMY have created five special jugalbandi videos, each for a few minutes, with top artistes carefully paired. The first of these launched recently, with Taufiq Qureshi and Vijay Prakash, has garnered eye-popping numbers of viewers. Please view the video here:
Sangeetha N, President and National Creative Director, R K SWAMY, said “Shriram is a special company with a unique philosophy. Their idea of brand building is driven by genuine customer connect on the ground. The jugalbandi idea springs from this understanding. Each video is originally composed and recorded live. There is nothing like this done before from a brand perspective.”
Umesh Revankar, Vice Chairman, Shriram Finance said “It is a special moment in our evolution as a group, originally formed with the idea of spreading credit to those who don’t normally get it. This is our way of telling customers that we march in sync with them. And to remind our people to stay close to the customers. With the jugalbandi videos we have created a special platform to reinforce the connection.”
Four more jugalbandi videos will be released in the coming weeks.
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Vineet Sharma, Vice President, Marketing at AB InBev, shares the brand’s marketing strategy and talks about its partnership with the FIFA Qatar World Cup  
By Imran Fazal | Dec 29, 2022 8:23 AM   |   5 min read
Anheuser-Busch InBev has now entered India’s whiskey market, which has been projected to grow at 4.2% CAGR (2021-26), 17% (2021-22). As Magnum Double Barrel come to the market for the first time in India, Vineet Sharma, Vice President, Marketing at AB InBev, speaks in-depth about the marketing strategy. He further discusses how being a sponsor at the FIFA Qatar World Cup will boost AB InBev liquor sale in India.
After 11 years, Anheuser-Busch InBev is entering the whiskey segment for the first time, can you explain the strategy as to why India was chosen as the first country to launch Magnum Double Barrel?
There are two to three reasons why we went in this direction. We are the world’s biggest beer manufacturer, and being a very consumer-centric company, we realized that today’s millennial population or this fast-growing Gen Z population who are above the legal drinking age are experimenting. We have seen that these individuals try out new products, flavours and brands. Secondly, the Indian market is the second biggest spirits market in the world. India contributes to around 10% of global spirits consumption. The third reason is that when we launched Magnum in 2011, it was an extension of the Budweiser brand. Now we are extending brand Magnum into the whiskey category. But it is important to say that we are committed to beer and we want to lead and grow the category. But we also want to diversify our portfolio into categories beyond beer. India is now amongst the top 5 markets for Budweiser globally.
Who is your Target Group, and where does Magnum Double Barrel fit in the whiskey category?
Magnum Double Barrel fits into the premium blended whiskey segment as a brand. Budweiser is the leader in the premium beer segment, and we want to extend that brand love that we have in the segment to not just beer, but also to whiskey. This premium blended segment whiskey is filled with a lot of other brands, such as 100 pipers, Black & White, Red Label, Jameson, and Balentines. These brands are premium in this segment, of course, India’s whiskey market is filled with a lot of value segment brands.
Today when consumers are looking forward to ready-to-drink liquor products, will AB InBev move towards that segment as well?
We did a soft launch of one of our key offerings in Maharashtra and learnt a lot of things there as well. The ready-to-drink is a very close category to beer. So, there is a lot more overlap between the beer and the RTD segment. So, the answer is yes. We are closely looking at not just Indian brands, but also global brands. The RTD category is an exciting one. It is something that we are closely watching as well, and when we have a strong viewpoint on this, we will obviously go big on this segment.
With your brand being one of the sponsors for the FIFA World Cup, do you think it will help boost sales of AB InBev liquor brands in India?
We have been partners of the FIFA World Cup for over 35 years now, and Budweiser is the brand that is a partner. We celebrate high-energy occasions as a brand, and the partnership with the FIFA World Cup has been amazing for us. What we see with FIFA, it is a sport and an event, and a celebration of the biggest football festival in the world. It is where people come together, they enjoy and create moments which are truly unforgettable.
People were huddled up in homes due to the pandemic, and for the last two years we were reflecting on what should be done when the world opens up, and the FIFA World Cup is a great carnival for that. The time zone is quite conducive for India, as the matches were being played in the evening. It is a great time for our products to be consumed. So, we leveraged this not only in the minds of the consumer, but also at the outlets, bars, pubs, and wherever people watch football. The beer of their choice should always be Budweiser.
The Indian government had set fresh guidelines on surrogate advertising. Has that become an obstacle for a liquor brand like yours to advertise and reach out to the masses?
I think we as a global entity have always adhered to the local applicable laws, and we ensure all our businesses operate within those guidelines. For us, the law of the land is supreme. Not only the law of the land, but also our internal, there’s a marketing code that we follow to ensure a lot of responsible marketing. We are still working with authorities to understand how we can market the right way.
But as the world’s leading brewer, we are committed to respecting the laws of the land and reducing the harmful consumption of alcohol. We are very focused on building smart drinking and positive consumption of our products. It is not very different from how we operate it internally as well. We don’t want to do anything that we are not proud of, and we respect the laws of the government. We will ensure that we work in that domain to create the right proposition and to create the right products, and advertise the way the laws of the land state. We were already operating with much stricter codes within our internal AB InBev teams, and it doesn’t change a lot for us because we were already on the right side of the law.  
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Guest Column: Sachin Sharma, Director, Enterprise Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn India, shares ways to navigate economic uncertainty and the winds of change
By Sachin Sharma | Dec 28, 2022 9:05 AM   |   5 min read
Over the recent years, the world has thrown B2B marketers into the unknown and often tumultuous waters. From finding the right customers to communicating effectively, building meaningful relationships, and finally delivering business impact – the road to success has had its bends and curves. Marketers have rerouted their ways around these bumps by building solid brands that customers can relate to and rely on. Now, as they navigate through another period of economic uncertainty, success will be defined by their ability to adapt to these new winds of change. Driving business results in a sensitive market will be critical, and LinkedIn has some big ideas that promise to set the stage for successful B2B marketing in 2023.
CMOs will need to speak the language of the CFO to continue brand-building during uncertainty
At any given time, only 5% of buyers are in the market to make a purchase. Businesses that want to hold their grounds firm amidst uncertain economic waves will need to target the other 95% – the key to doing that lies in effective brand building. Almost all marketers in India believe that brand building is critical to avoid memory corrosion and ensure faster recovery during uncertainty. However, if we were to borrow from history, marketing budgets have always been the first to be drained when calamity hits. And today, 98% of marketing leaders in India believe that improving CFOs’ understanding of long-term B2B marketing ROI is critical to strengthening future budgets. CMOs will thus have to translate their work into a metric that CFOs see value in to drive greater impact for their businesses in 2023. 
Partnering with agencies who invest in more B2B specialization
As an increasing number of sellers catch up with the importance of long-term B2B marketing, marketers will turn towards trusted third-party agencies. B2C expertise will no longer be the reference point for marketers, they will look for specialized B2B agencies that bring a deeper understanding of customers’ needs and buyer paths, especially when budgets are tight and restricted to critical-only investments. Thus, choosing the right partner will be crucial to achieving success with the right customers.
Humanising your brand and measuring success through purpose-built metrics
In 2023, marketers will need to be extremely mindful of going to market at a time when the price is likely more top-of-mind for buyers than it has been over the past few years. This means B2B marketers will need to humanize their messages to create an emotional connection and stay top-of-mind so buyers know where to go when budgets come back. And as pressure to demonstrate true business impact builds amid uncertainty, the B2B marketing industry will also see the emergence of purpose-built measurement tools to account for nuances in B2B buying — like months-long buying cycles and involvement from multiple decision makers. This will define new industry standards and create more possibilities for marketers to merchandise the value of their strategies and investments.
Shifting buyer preferences will disrupt the B2B purchase path
With very little change in the B2B buying process over the past few years, the industry is poised to undergo a significant transformation in the coming years, driven by evolving buyer preferences for more transparency and control over how they engage with brands. B2B brands help drive the global economy forward by enabling other businesses to unlock more growth, so B2B buyers have both the opportunity to inspire organization-wide impact and tremendous responsibility to deliver the right tools and solutions. While marketers strengthen their brand identity to be relevant in the long term and reimagine how they sell, buyers will increasingly demand more control and transparency from brands as they explore potential solutions, which will reshape the purchase path and lead to new innovations in how brands go to market.
Taking a proactive approach to privacy
The brands that most successfully navigate the emerging privacy landscape this year will be the ones that balance a forward-looking approach to privacy and the ability to pivot quickly in the short term. Over the past few years, brands have implemented a patchwork of mitigations in a reactive manner to address the ongoing changes in privacy. Moving into 2023, brands will go on the offensive. They will see the benefit of investing in a multitude of solutions and be able to pivot quickly to meet the moment. Brands that succeed in the new year will keep a close eye on what’s helping them drive results — and even more importantly, what’s not working — so they can proactively flex their strategies and investments.
Marketers who want to succeed through this whirlwind will need to plan for the bigger picture – focus on larger business objectives instead of short-term success. To do so, building a brand that is memorable, resilient, and humane will be imperative, especially amidst uncertain times.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of
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The short video encapsulates what people feel about the hassle and pressure of making New Year plans
By exchange4media Staff | Dec 27, 2022 5:42 PM   |   3 min read
Every new year comes with a lot of excitement, hope, and multiple New Year resolutions. However, it also comes with the underlying thought of overspending every time you step out on New Year’s eve or just the pressure of celebrating New Year’s eve with some elaborate “party”. To address this,, India’s largest D2C home and sleep solutions company in association with Spring Marketing Capital,  presents the ‘Honest New Year Party Rant’ featuring popular comedian Kumar Varun. The video hilariously encapsulates what a majority of people feel about the hassle and pressure of making New Year plans.
The video begins on a humorous note with Kumar Varun losing his cool over the numerous ‘New Year’s Party’ advertisements with exorbitant cover charges promising a good time in people’s lives on December 31st. As the video progresses, he touches on how people are judged if they don’t have a boast worthy New Year plan and questions the notion of staying out late and partying rather than relaxing and spending time with your loved ones from the comfort of your home. 
As the year comes to an end, the question of how and where to celebrate New Year’s Eve arises. The brand campaign emphasises on how it has become the new normal to stay at home spending quality time with your loved ones, snuggled up in bed or on the sofa. The Honest New-Year Party Rant video aims to resonate with what most people have been feeling this year end while also normalizing staying back at home for a snooze party this New-Year’s eve. 

Sharing his views on the video Prateek Malpani, Head of Brand, said, “The idea for this video came from our conversations with consumers who have given a whole new meaning to home as they navigate life post pandemic. The home has become an active dynamic space accommodating a myriad of activities rather than a passive space where it was just meant to retire after a long day. Earlier the idea of having fun meant “going out” but that has changed as voiced by our consumers who say they have a much more quality time at home when it comes to celebrations, get-togethers and occasions.  
He further added, “We are thrilled to have Kumar Varun as a protagonist for the video who has entertained us in the past with his quirk and quizzes. We have taken a lively, banter led approach, to communicate the idea of a HAPPY SNOOZE YEAR PARTY which we hope that the audience will be able to resonate with. Through this campaign, our aim is to normalize staying at home on New Year’s eve, and connect especially with those consumers who love staying at home.”
The video has been released on’s branded content youtube channel called Home Time along with its own social media handles. Earlier this year, also collaborated with content creators like Satish Ray and Aiyyo Shraddha to talk about its Sleep Internship Season 3. The brand also launched its own web series “Ghar Set Hai ” which has crossed more than 2 million organic views and is now streaming on VOOT. 
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This is the third film from the EatQual initiative and has an unique take on inclusivity
By exchange4media Staff | Dec 27, 2022 3:05 PM   |   3 min read
To drive inclusivity through its marquee EatQual initiative, McDonald’s India – owned and operated by Westlife Foodworld Ltd has launched a new brand film. This third film from the EatQual franchise has a unique take on inclusivity and aims to shine a light on how specially-abled individuals lead normal lives in their own ways proving how we all are different and yet the same. 
The film is about a young girl with limited upper limb mobility and it showcases the girl going about her day finishing everyday tasks independently and with ease. She brushes her teeth, gets ready for the day, ties her shoelaces, and so on. She lets nothing stand in her way of living life just like any other individual. Instead, she simply finds unique ways to accomplish everyday tasks. The film ends with her enjoying her favourite McDonald’s burger in the specially created EatQual packaging, as joyfully as her other friends. 
Arvind RP, Senior Director – Marketing & Communications, McDonald’s India (West and South) said, “EatQual will always remain the key inclusivity platform of McDonald’s India. With this new brand film, we wanted to emphasize that each individual has their own unique way of living life, irrespective of their special abilities. McDonald’s has always been a feel-good brand wherein we continue to spread happiness and promote inclusivity. With EatQual, we are constantly working towards strengthening our commitment to making McDonald’s India a brand that is truly inclusive.” 
Rahul Mathew, CCO, DDB Mudra Group said, “One mostly looks into the lives of the differently abled from the lens of what they can’t do. And what brands can do for them. But we felt there’s more joy in celebrating the way they live their lives. And how McDonald’s can effortlessly slip into their life.” 
Yogendra Shetty, Director General, the National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped (NASEOH), India said, “We must recognize that people with upper limb disabilities are more than capable of leading regular lives. However, making life simpler for them is a cause that deserves attention. The EatQual initiative by McDonald’s India puts into sharp focus the kind of thoughtful changes that can be made to help people with disabilities feel included. It’s time for all of us to come together to advance the cause of individuality over disability.” 
McDonald’s India started the journey of EatQual in 2020 to provide an effortless, seamless, and most importantly equal burger-eating experience for all their fans. The EatQual packaging – which is available in-store and on the McDelivery App – has been designed in consultation with experts from NGOs that have been working actively for the specially-abled community for over 50 years. Extensive research was conducted among individuals with limited upper arm mobility to understand their plight in eating a burger and that led to the birth of EatQual packaging. 
Over the last three years, McDonald’s has been fostering an inclusive eating experience through the EatQual campaign. The brand continues to reach out to specially-abled individuals through NGOs. In December 2022, the brand engaged with hundreds of specially-abled children from National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped (NASEOH), India and The Association of People with Disability (APD, India) to help them enjoy McDonald’s burgers in the EatQual packaging.
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Guest Column: Mark Titus, AVP Marketing, Nippon Paint India (Decorative) shares his take on the marketing trends that will rule in 2023
By Mark Titus | Dec 27, 2022 9:25 AM   |   3 min read
Marketing events have made a huge comeback in 2022, especially after their long hiatus during the pandemic. Brands and event agencies are coming up with bigger and better events and on-ground activities to engage with their consumers and other stakeholders. Interest in virtual engagements, especially virtual events have seen a steep decline – decrease in Metaverse’ popularity is testimony to that. These experiential events are going deeper and wider. In 2023, it is advisable for brands to engage and connect with consumers at a micro-level and reach the grassroots, in terms of geography and demography.
Here are some other marketing trends that will rule 2023.
Purpose-driven marketing
The economic and social unrest caused by the pandemic has thrown a spotlight on how important it is to not just sell to consumers but also to care for the well-being of consumers and other stakeholders like employees, and business partners. This will continue to be at the heart of many marketing initiatives in the coming year. A brand’s marketing initiatives should be aligned with the causes that the consumers care about – health, eco-friendliness, climate change, and so on.
Focus on Gen-Z & millennial consumers
Resonating with woke consumers that are GenZ and millennials should be high on every marketer’s priority list. While Gen-Z values practicality and values of a product/service, millennials place high importance on convenience and customer experience. For both generations though, it is important that the brand’s values align with theirs. An eco-conscious consumer will choose a brand that provides eco-friendly products/actively engages in eco-friendly initiatives, even if their products cost a little more than their competition.
Sports marketing
Many brands have been successfully connecting with consumers by partnering with their favourite sports leagues/teams, as sponsors/functional partners. The steep rise in sponsorship value of major sports events and teams is a testament to the value and impact brands are seeing in such tie-ups.
Brands can choose to partner with their all-time favourite sports leagues like IPL (cricket) and ISL (football) or even support upcoming sports like basketball, hockey, kabbadi and Kho Kho through events like Pro Kabaddi League, Hockey India League and TN Kho Kho Premier League. Regional/geo-specific event activation can have an even higher impact on brands that want to connect with their consumers at a grassroots level.
MarTech & Social commerce
In the last few years, we have seen the combined power of MarTech, SEO and Social commerce. With the rising popularity of Instagram, Instagram ads and Google searches will continue to be hugely relevant. Further, advanced MarTech helps in reaching the right TG and motivated buyers. Marketers should continue to leverage marketing technology to influence consumers to consider their brand and click on the ‘Buy’ button. MarTech is the right medium to reach tech-savvy millennials and Gen-Z who are more online than offline. This is a marketing spend that will give you measurable and high ROI.
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Khan is among the most valued celebs in India and has added scores of brands to his endorsement kitty in the recent years
By Tanya Dwivedi | Dec 27, 2022 8:46 AM   |   3 min read
Despite the years behind him, Salman Khan is counted among the top actors in India. He has given us evergreen movies such as Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Dabangg and Wanted. His successful Bollywood career apart, Khan also has many other feathers added to his hat. He is the presenter of India’s biggest reality show Bigg Boss and also a humanitarian who supports charitable causes through his Being Human Foundation.
As per Duff & Phelps’s Digital Acceleration 2.0 report, Khan ranked on the list of the most valued celebrities. His net worth in rupees according to the report is Rs 3000 crores in 2022. His fan following is also 56.2 million strong on Instagram.
As the star turns 57 today, we look at his endorsements and his stellar brand journey, which he has built over the years.
Campa Cola
Khan appeared in the homegrown cola brand Campa Cola’s advertisement in 1983. He was in his late teens when he appeared in the soft drink ad with other unknown models. This is widely believed to be his first TV ad.

In the course of his career, he will go on to represent other soft drink brands such as Pepsi, Appy Fizz, Limca, Mountain Dew, and Thums-Up.
Hero Honda, Suzuki Motorcycles

Before his first movie Biwi Ho toh aisi, Khan appeared in Hero Honda ad in 1985.

Later on, he also endorsed Suzuki Motorcycles.

He also endorsed the gum brand Cholrmint and it is counted amongst Khan’s funniest ads. 

He also starred alongside his brother Sohail Khan in another one of the brand’s hilarious spots.
Khan has also endorsed the footwear brand Relaxo for which he remained a brand ambassador for a few years. 

Dixy Scott and Lux Venus
Salman also endorsed innerwear brands like Dixy Scott’s and Lux Venus.

Emami Navratna
Khan has endorsed the oil brand Navratna in a Dabbang-inspired ad.

Himani Best Choice Oil
The superstar also endorsed the edible oil brand Himani and starred in many ads for the brand.

The star has also endorsed the men’s nutraceutical brand Revital. The association also inspired many memes when he controversially stated he was a virgin on Koffee with Karan a few years ago.

Bharat Pe
Two to three years ago, he also endorsed the Bharat Pe Payment app.


The actor’s most recent ad is for Pepsi.

Being Human
Perhaps the most impactful endorsement of Khan has been his association with Being Human since 2007. The establishment is synonymous with Khan himself. On the occasion of his birthday, Being Human announced a 50% discount on all merchandise between 25th and 27th of December.

CEO, Sanjeev Rao said, “Our campaign is based on an insight of connection that Salman has with his fans. To his fans he is Bhai. Hence the campaign “BhaiKaBirthday”. The idea is to extend the large heart that Salman has to the consumers of Being human clothing. This “Aadha Bill Bhai Bharenge” was our way of announcing our biggest annual sale around his birthday, where we have our entire stores on a flat 50%. If you are from the armed forces, we offer you an extra 5%. We also tied up with ICICI to offer an additional 7% benefit to their card holders.” 
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