Snapchat has hit the 100 million monthly user milestone in India, Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel announced on Wednesday at the Snap for India 2021 virtual event. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, at the second edition of its India-centric event, the company also announced its local partnerships to further expand the social media camera app, which focuses on filtering users through augmented reality (AR) to tighten. It also claimed to have increased its net new customer base by 70 percent in 2020 and is introducing new monetization streams for users who create content on Snapchat.
Among its new partners, Snap announced that it is working with Flipkart to develop AR experiences for e-commerce. The company is deploying its camera kit, which is essentially an end-to-end solution for third-party developers, within Flipkart’s camera storefront so that online customers can purchase new products by virtually experiencing them on-site.
Snap also announced its collaboration with Zomato as another important partnership in India. It aims to help users access restaurant information and place food orders directly from their personal card in the Snapchat app.
In addition, Snap is offering Snapchat users virtual taster courses by bringing Mumbai-based online cosmetics company Sugar Cosmetics and beauty brand MyGlamm to its AR shopping beta program.
“We have made significant investments to localize the Snapchat experience for the Indian community. We have added culturally relevant content, developed highly active and creative local creator communities and invested in local products, marketing initiatives and language support, ”said Spiegel in a prepared statement.
In addition to local partnerships, Snap is working with various Android original device manufacturers (OEMs) to expand Snapchat.
Nana Murugesan, Managing Director of International Markets at Snap, told Gadgets 360 in a virtual interview that the company’s OEM strategy consists of two different parts. “We call one the on-Snapchat OEM strategy and the other is the off-Snapchat OEM strategy,” he said.
With the on-Snapchat strategy, Snap increases the spread of the app. The company said there are over 100 million devices in India that have the Snapchat app pre-installed.
However, Snap is also trying to dig deeper into the country using its off-Snapchat OEM strategy, which aims to deliver the AR experiences that the app natively offers but without requiring their full existence.
Samsung was one of the first smartphone manufacturers to use Snapchat’s AR experiences in its native camera app. Still, Snap is expanding that experience with the upcoming JioPhone Next.
“When you look at a JioPhone Next through our partnership with Google, when you open a JioPhone Next and open the camera, Snapchat isn’t even there, but when you open a JioPhone Next camera, the Snapchat lenses are in the camera like the native camera integration of our Snapchat lenses, ”Murugesan told Gadgets 360.
In addition to AR, Snap is also attracting users’ attention in India for its unique emoji experiences delivered through the dedicated app called Bitmoji. The company claimed that India was the second largest and fastest growing market for the Bitmoji app. However, it did not provide exact numbers to justify the claim.
Snap also claimed that its community has been growing in the country of 300 Snap Stars since 2020. Specifically, Snap Stars are the Snapchat users who are verified by the Company in its sole discretion.
Users selected as Snap Stars in India will now have access to a feature called “Gift” that allows them to monetize their content by receiving “gifts” from their fans through story responses. This will be in addition to the Creator Marketplace, which Snap launched earlier this year and will soon be launched at Snap Stars in India, through which brands will be in direct contact with active creators to pay them to produce branded content.
Last year, Snapchat introduced a feature called Spotlight, which allows users to share short video content – just like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. This feature was launched in India in March this year and claimed that the daily viewing time of Spotlight Stories has quadrupled since its inception.
Snap has also so far developed AR lenses for 75 local festivals and has brought over 350 hyper-local geofilters to various Indian cities. Also in August, it brought its AR feature Landmarker to India Gate in New Delhi – after bringing that experience to Agra’s Taj Mahal and Mumbai’s Gateway of India. In addition, the company is said to have run Lens Studio workshops to teach AR to over 5,000 students in the country.
More room to grow
In the past few years, Snap has started to see India as one of its key potential markets. The company opened its local Mumbai office in 2019 and has since expanded voice support and localization efforts for the Snapchat app. However, a large number of local content creators have yet to be added to the list of active Snapchatters.
“We believe that there is still a lot of leeway for us in India. And I think this is just the beginning. As we bring more friends and family to the platform, people bring them in, and people visually communicate and celebrate, we are very, very optimistic about our future dynamic, ”said Murugesan of Snap.
Snapchat grew its reach in India by over 66 percent just months after crossing the previous milestone of 60 million consumers in the fourth quarter of 2020. But the 100 million reach is still well below the 180 million+ users available on Facebook Instagram in the country, according to data available on Statista.
When asked if India is a profitable market for Snap, Murugesan told Gadgets 360 that the company is currently in the second phase of market development, which is hypergrowth. However, he did not explicitly confirm the profitability part.
“In this phase the focus is entirely on growth and engagement, relevance, how to really ensure that we become a really preferred platform when it comes to augmented reality, authentic human connections and communication. We are able to drive this hypergrowth and ourselves really focus on how hyperfocus is on what I call hypergrowth. So that’s the focus we have in India, ”he said.