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A communication professional asked a fashion magazine about its upcoming issue, the fashion team of the magazine replied with “we are not sure of anything at this moment no shoots are planned everything is on hold and we don’t know when we will go back to shooting normal”. This doesn’t come as a surprise.
With the mayhem of the pandemic, the entire world, and businesses are halfway in between a pause and a pivot. Just like everyone else, brands and media are forced to make bitter sacrifices. They are struggling to survive with limited budgets, negligible sales and extensive cost cuts.
Fashion media, known for selling dreams and luxury fantasies to millions of consumers wrapped around on gobs of glossy papers and TV screens have suddenly derailed both in purpose and in production. In pursuit of finding a silver lining to this incredibly scary and painful period, most businesses have hit the reset button. They are exploring new ways to approach processes and to keep the creativity and originality intact. They are constantly trying and experimenting with various ways to churn out content on a regular basis.
In this constant churning, one of the most optimal solutions for survival or outcome that has become common is “Outsourcing”. To be unique, stay relevant, and most importantly stay alive brands and magazines are increasingly outsourcing services like imagery, content, shoots to influencers, communities, and freelance agencies. This has paved a way for a new approach to business where your external stakeholders have become part of your internal business mechanism.
Magazines are the vehicles selling fantasies. While fashion is truly an escape, the current motive of magazine at present is to keep us dreaming of the day when our regular lives of the past become a reality again. And printing this dream on paper requires a lot of effort. A typical magazine shoot requires a huge setup and tends to involve large teams with multiple stylists, cameras, models, etc. But with everyone confined to their homes magazines have started outsourcing their requirements for images, shoots, styling and content to outside agencies, influencers and even celebrities. A trend which we see growing in the coming future. From a video series of celebrities giving beauty tips while wearing face masks, to influencers who have semi-professional setups that they use to record their videos, print media, especially magazines, are going gaga over outsourcing.
Cosmopolitan magazine’s April 2020 Work from Home Issue is a classic example. For this first #WorkFromHome Issue, several celebrities and influencers came together to create exclusive content, including video content, for Cosmopolitan India, from their own homes. Influencers and Celebrities, including Covergirl Sobhita Dhulipala, styled their own hair, did their own make-up, curated their own outfits, and conceptualised and art directed their own shoot.
TV buffs across the country are enjoying the reruns of the old favourite TV shows. As everyone has made peace with the fact that TV content cannot be created without stepping outside, thereby jeopardising the life of thousands of people. But where there is a will there is a way! Who would have thought TV shoots could be outsourced and new content can be generated until a TV channel in India launched a TV Show shot from home.
Given the situation, each brand is trying to survive. And any additional cost at this moment, like a campaign shoot or fashion shoot for ecomm, is a luxury. Signalling a new normal, brands are increasingly bypassing production companies and asking influencers to create content. While influencers have always been around and were steadily becoming part of brand marketing plans, some brands where still reluctant to jump onto the bandwagon thinking there will be quality constraints. But the current scenario has made influencers ‘the darlings’ for brands. They are crazy cost-efficient and delivering quality content that the customers are relating to. Hence most brands are choosing to outsource their product photography or campaign shoot to independent content creators. Instead of spending lakhs of rupees on campaign shoots, brands are increasingly opting for independent producers who churn good quality videos at nominal costs.
Content generation via communityWith fashion shoots hauled, a popular maternity fashion brand storq turned to its community members to generate content. The brand sent its product to selected community members and asked them to share images which will be used by brands.
Content generation via influencers
For Mother’s day Sun feats collaborated with popular moms or daughters/mom and daughter duos including actress Soha Ali Khan & Anita Hassanandani, Singer Tulsi Kumar and other influencers to promote its new range from home.
Forest Essentials started FE at Home featuring popular fashion and beauty influencer Nikita Upadhyay.
Conclusion: While outsourcing is not something new, the pandemic has definitely accelerated it with brands increasingly opting for influencers, individual content creators, freelancers and production houses for content generation over agencies. Post COVID-19 too, we are expecting this trend to continue. While one might think that this means more business for the latter, the truth of the matter is in this current situation each business or independent influencer or content creator needs to change their business model to avoid getting their services outsourced. In a nutshell influencers and agencies that doesn't quickly adapt to building its outsourcing resource pool for videos, blogs, web series, even design, will surely become extinct.