Have you heard of Maya?
We’re talking about the Bengaluru-based student who is also an influencer promoting brands for Myntra. The only thing is that you can’t meet her in person because she isn’t real.
Well actually, Maya is a virtual influencer Myntra created so that she can help the e-commerce company collaborate with brands and win the hearts of fashionistas. Maya’s apparently already a part of social media, has a lot of followers and may go live on the Myntra app soon.
And having a committed virtual influencer can be a great idea for a company because they won’t have to worry about losing them to a competitor. Or hurting their brand value because of a controversy. The brand even saves on influencer marketing costs. Sure, it might be a hefty one-time investment but it may be worth it.
In fact, brands like Nike, Calvin Klein and Samsung have also partnered with virtual influencers in the past. And many others have also begun launching their own fictional influencers.
So if you see Maya going live on Myntra this week, say a virtual hello.
Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵
Dissolving Boundaries by Anoushka Shankar
Time to get going…
A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀
When tobacco use warnings aren’t welcome
Nearly 267 million Indian adults consume tobacco. That includes khaini, gutkha, beedis, cigarettes and everything else that’s linked to it. And the economic costs of the diseases that come with it amount to over $27 billion.
And according to Ormax OTT Audience Sizing Report 2022, India has an estimated 424 million OTT users.
Now, if you’re wondering how the two statistics are even remotely connected, here’s the thing. A couple of days ago the Ministry of Health came up with a new idea to cut down any chances of young folks picking up this nasty habit from the stuff they watch online.
Well, the 31st of May was ‘World No Tobacco Day’. And the government suggested that publishers of online content include health warnings lasting at least 30 seconds each at the start and middle of their programs where characters are seen using tobacco.
And they have about 3 months to comply with these new rules. If not, they could attract government action.
But folks like Netflix, Disney and Amazon don’t seem to be very happy about it. The reason?
Well, for starters these apps may have multiple releases in their pipeline over the next few months and it could be expensive for them to slip in tobacco use warnings between their films. Secondly, production houses might just choose to skip releasing their content in India. And that could be a blow for OTT platforms which are already trying to keep their viewers hooked by lowering their subscription plan prices and releasing more regionally appealing content.
So although there’s a noble intention here, the government might want to mull over how much time OTT players get to transition into complying with the new rules.
What do you think?
Regulation but no regulation ― the finfluencer edition
Finfluencers need no introduction. They not only help people understand finance but also sway people’s perceptions with their financial advice. But here’s the thing, they’re not authorised advisors. Sure, they can increase financial literacy. But telling people which stock to invest in or assuring them guaranteed returns doesn’t fall within its scope.
But influencers have become such an integral part of our lives that every piece of advice they give seems genuine. And the proof lies in the many YouTube pump-and-dump schemes that have been pulled up in the recent past. Besides investment advice that does its rounds on social media platforms like Telegram and WhatsApp.
Now, the government and the markets regulator SEBI want to curb the menace and have figured out the obvious culprit ― regulations for finfluencers. And they’ve been continuously warning these folks that the regulations could be here any time soon.
But finfluencers already seem to be feeling the heat of these regulations without any official set of rules targeting them.
You see, a couple of months ago the SEBI tightened the advertisement code and barred investment advisors and research analysts from promising fixed returns or even using adjectives like ‘№1, Top or Best Investment Advisor/Research Analyst’ in their ads. But that may not have been such a blow to the new age finfluencers. Not all of them are registered financial advisors. So they only had to worry about adding disclaimers to their advice.
But SEBI’s Chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch recently hinted about something that might be of some concern to these people.
Finfluencers are supposedly renting out research analysts, consulting them and publishing their advice online. This way finfluencers can put the onus of the advice on these registered analysts. And while they make money, they also give these folks a cut.
Now, this might not be to SEBI’s liking. But until there is enough clarity on what is and what isn’t legal, finfluencers might be able to find ways to steer clear of any fines or action from the regulator. After all, if someone isn’t eligible to become an authorised investment advisor, you can’t stop someone from hiring a research analyst no?
Unless the law actually prohibits it. So can SEBI’s new regulations (whenever they come) do the trick? Well, it’s anybody’s guess.
Money tips 💰
Risk, luck and success
Sometimes you could look at a rich person and think they must have worked really hard to get there. But if you know that person to be average or lazy, their success might surprise you. And you might just end up thinking that maybe luck was on their side.
But more often than not ‘nothing is as good or as bad as it seems’. And these aren’t my words. Morgan Housel in his book ‘The Psychology of Money’ describes luck and risk as siblings.
This means that you could work really hard for an exam but fail nevertheless. So efforts don’t really define the outcome of any task. This also applies to investments.
There could be times when you invested in the market with careful research. You may have even had the perfect mix of assets in your portfolio. But that doesn’t guarantee 100% success.
You could encounter risks beyond your control. Luck may not always be in your favour. What’s important is that you understand that failure is a part of the journey and no amount of effort or meticulous planning can always materialise into a win. Just know that risks can knock on your door invited and always have a plan B. In short, learn that luck won’t always be on your side and manage your risks smartly instead of weeping over your losses.
Readers Recommend 🗒️
Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono
This week our reader Nehal Sadmake recommends a book that explains the concept of lateral thinking ― a creative and unconventional approach to problem solving. It distinguishes this approach from traditional vertical thinking and provides practical daily exercises to develop this skill.
Nehal further says that he found the book very insightful and thought it might interest us as well. We hope so too. Thanks for this interesting recommendation!
Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩
It’s time to announce the winner of our previous Weekly Quiz. And the winner is… 🥁
Anirudh Nair! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch.
And for the rest of you, here’s your next chance to grab the winner’s crown. Click on this 👉🏽 link, answer all the questions correctly and tune in next week to check if you got lucky.
Until then, don’t forget to tell us what you thought of today’s newsletter. And send us your book, music, business movies, documentaries or podcast recommendations. We’ll feature them in the newsletter! Just hit reply to this email (or if you’re reading this on the web, drop us a message: firstname.lastname@example.org).