Snapchat to ‘double down’ on expansion in India as it witnesses over 150% growth in daily active users

Snapchat to ‘double down’ on expansion in India as it witnesses over 150% growth in daily active users
Snapchat's first office in India completes two years this month.Unsplash
  • Snapchat completes two years of its first office in India.
  • It has so far witnessed a daily user base growth of 100% for the past 5 quarters.
  • Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. plans to expand the app’s presence in India with increased hiring, content partnerships and hyperlocal experiences.
Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. launched its first office in India in August 2019. It has so far reported an upward trajectory in terms of user base in India, a market which its chief executive Evan Spiegel once reportedly said “poor” for Snapchat.

In its recent June quarter earnings report, Snap reported a global revenue of $982 million, more than double as compared to the previous year. Snapchat also registered its highest user growth to 293 million daily active users.

Earlier this year, Snapchat revealed it has crossed 60 million users in India. “We’re experiencing more than 150% growth in daily active users over the last year and consistently we are in triple-digit growth rate five quarters in a row,” Nana Murugesan, managing director of International markets at Snap Inc. told Business Insider India in an interview.

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Murugesan did not reveal the current statistics for Snapchat’s user base in India, but added that the company had a “healthy growth” in the country and that India is a “significant part” of their global community.

The company is also expanding its team in India to focus on local augmented reality (AR), TikTok-rival Spotlight, partnerships, market development, sales and creative strategy.


“What you’re going to see is a significant doubling down of our commitment to India, whether it’s on the teams, on the community, on the partnership, we’re very pleased with our overall India story,” Murugesan said.

Hyperlocal experiences

Snapchat’s key focus in India is to create hyperlocal and culturally relevant experiences for users, according to Murugesan. It launched the third landmarker lens in India, which can be experienced at India Gate in New Delhi. Snapchat users who are nearby India Gate will be notified to point their camera at it, and the monument will be embellished with the tricolour.

Snapchat’s landmarker lens lets users create AR experiences at select popular locations like the Buckingham Palace in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In India there are three Snapchat landmarker lenses including the newly launched one at India Gate, and Gateway of India in Mumbai and Taj Mahal in Agra.

The company also has dedicated AR lenses for different religious and cultural festivals in India.

It also launched the language learning lens that aims to make learning Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, and Telugu easier for users. Snapchat’s language learning lens uses AR and machine learning (ML) to translate objects in real-time in different languages.

The app is also available in nine Indian languages -- Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.


Adding to the company’s strategy of reaching every smartphone user in India, one focus area for Snapchat is partnerships. “Our strategy is to make Snapchat accessible across all smartphones out there,” Murugesan said. Earlier this year, Snapchat partnered with Sharechat to integrate Snap’s camera kit into the startup’s short video platform, Moj. There are 150 Snapchat lenses available on Moj so far.

“We shared our augmented reality technology with Sharechat’s Moj, they integrated our technology into their camera. It’s been exciting to see all the momentum out of that. From our partner’s perspective, it’s been a very fruitful and exciting journey as we share Snap’s camera kit,” Murugesan said.

A more recent partnership for Snapchat was with Google and Reliance Jio for JioPhone Next. The low-cost 4G smartphone jointly developed by Google and Jio will come with Snapchat lenses integrated into its camera.

“What you’re going to see here is JioPhone Next, the camera that will integrate Snapchat’s augmented reality lenses, which will be highly customised for local Indian users. So the people can enjoy lenses which are at the core of Snapchat, in a very native way without having to do anything. That’s going to be a very interesting way for us to engage with a very large part of the Indian demographic,” Murugesan said.

This partnership is being looked at as a way for Snapchat to tap into a wider demographic of early 4G smartphone users or those who upgrade from feature phones to 4G smartphones. Murugesan highlighted the fact that Snapchat’s core feature is AR which makes the app “pretty sophisticated” so the company needs to make sure that it works on just about any device and on any network condition.

TikTok-rival ‘Spotlight’

Snap’s seriousness for the Indian market can be seen with the company bringing almost every new feature and product here. Earlier this year, it launched ‘Spotlight’, its TikTok-rival, in India. Murgesan said that the company has been seeing a “healthy adoption of Spotlight” in India.

Without giving details, he added that the $1 million a day fund has really helped with the adoption of Spotlight. Snap announced it will pay creators up to $1 million a day for using Spotlight based on the number of views the videos get. At Snap’s partner summit in May this year, the company said it paid creators over $130 million globally. It also made changes to the fund saying that creators will now be paid millions per month.

“We have seen incredible creativity and growth on Spotlight this year, including a tripling of daily submissions quarter-over-quarter and an all-time high in the daily number of creators posting to Spotlight. We will continue to pay creators millions per month to anyone who makes the top Spotlight Snaps, which is primarily based on engagement and relative performance of Snaps,” Murugesan said.

Content partnerships

Another area Snapchat has focused on is content partnerships. It has so far partnered with 60 local channels from 32 different publishing partners. Content of different genres ranging from news to Bollywood, beauty, comedy, and art are displayed in the app’s Discover section. It also partnered with comedian Vir Das for a new comedy series ‘VirDas -The Most Epic Max Show’. Another creator show it launched was with Indian television actress Ansuhka Sen for a cooking show called “What’s On My Plate”.

Snapchat also launched its first non-English Snap Original show ‘Phone Swap India’ which turned out to be a huge hit in India, according to Muregesan who credits the show’s unique concept as the reason behind it. Phone Swap is a reality dating show where the participants have to go through each other’s phones and decide whether they want to go on another date. This show was especially popular with India’s Gen-Z, which is also Snapchat’s core user group.

“You will see us do more of these types of things. It was the first time we’ve tried something like this so you’ll probably see us doubling down on these kinds of concepts,” Murugesan added.

In addition to Spotlight and content partnerships, Snapchat also launched customised games for users in India. It partnered with MoonFrog Labs to launch a custom version of Ludo Club, and it also made a localised game concept called “Dosa Dash” that is based on one of its popular games, ‘Ready Chef Go’.


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