Small Budgets, Big Impact: 3 Niche Influencer Groups To Maximize ROI 

Influencers, content creators,  key opinion leaders. Call them whatever you want, but I call them opportunity. In the midst of a recessionary environment and shrinking marketing budgets, the creator economy represents a huge opportunity for brands. 

According to research by Nielsen, brand recall for influencer content is four times that of traditional digital content. Further, 80% of social media users in Asia who follow influencers are more likely to buy products when they are recommended by those influencers. And this isn’t just true for influencers with millions of followers – audiences are more aligned with creators, especially micro influencers (loosely defined as creators with 5,000 to 30,000 followers), because they feel more personally relevant to the average person.

Meltwater’s Creator Economy Report reinforced this when it found that 91% of all sponsored post engagements in 2021 were created by micro-influencers. This cohort of creators are brands’ top collaborators because smaller, focused audiences make for high engagement and the best ROI for brands. Notably, rates for micro-influencer posts are considerably lower than famous influencers, charging an average US$200 per Instagram post in APAC. In this regard, the adage that less is more, certainly holds true. 

Do more with less

Considering this, partnering with creators can be an incredibly lucrative move for brands looking to not only reach their audience, but make a lasting impact. By co-creating posts and campaigns with creators in APAC whose audiences and values align with your brand, marketing teams can gain a leg up in brand awareness, consideration, and ROI, all without blowing budgets.

Here are three types of niche influencer groups to that are gaining popularity and that you should consider for the year ahead. 

Virtual Influencers

Meet Rae, a virtual Singaporean influencer, our local answer to Brazilian-American hyper-realistic virtual influencer, Lil Miquela. Rae, forever 25 years old, is effortlessly cool, straddling the realms of virtual and reality. Rae may be 24/7 plugged in, but she also “lives” in the real world: she’s had her hair done by Kim Robinson, been spotted at the F1 Grand Prix, and walked the runway for fashion festival Front Row. Rae is also the face of Shiseido and Hugo Boss and is emblematic of the fashion industry’s current love of virtual influencers. Virtual influencers have played a role at Milan and Paris Fashion week and are used by ambassadors by luxury brands. 

While many have proclaimed virtual influencers as a novelty, they have been gaining traction with digital natives. In fact, fashion house Hugo Boss stated they engaged Rae as part of their rebranding strategy to appeal to the youth demographic in Singapore. 


In Asia, where markets including Singapore, Japan and South Korea have an ageing population, the silver economy is lined with gold. We’re starting to see the rise of the “granfluencers” in Asia – senior influencers who are pulling in millions of followers.

For example, Chinese Douyin influencer, @tlaolao, has racked up more than 36 million followers and generates an average of more than $300k in media impact value per post. Ong Bee Yan, grandmother of two, is also a rising granfluencer from Singapore. She has worked with Young Hungry Free, an edgy online fashion brand, as well as Estée Lauder, promoting their skincare products. These young-at-heart influencers appeal to a wide audience.

These influencers resonate with Millennials and Gen Z because they are seen as more authentic, confident, and honest while still relating closely with their own demographics. Granfluencers have carved a niche for themselves in the digital world and is one group to take note of.


Who doesn’t love a cute animal? It is precisely this appeal that has drawn in dollars and deals for pet influencers – well, for their owners. Petfluencers are often crowd favourites with massive appeal, and do not lose out to their human counterparts when it comes to engagement. According to media auditor SpearRJ, “Kim Kardashian’s Instagram offers an engagement rate of 1.68%. In comparison, the famous wolfdog @Loki, has an engagement rate of 2.51% and gathers more than 50,000 likes for each post.” 

Singapore’s top dogs include Sasha and Piper (@lomodoggies), a pair of fluffy white terriers with 25,000 followers. The duo has endorsement deals with brands such as Dyson, Hush Puppies, and Cloversoft, and  according to a past Straits Times interview by their owner, each marketing deal earned them about SG$500. Though four-legged and furry, these are an example of micro-influencers that brands can collaborate with creatively.

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