As social media becomes more entrenched in people’s lives, influencers, or key opinion leaders (KOL) are playing an increasing role in connecting brands with consumers. According to a 2019 study by Influencer Marketing AgencySoutheast Asia’s influencer industry is currently valued at USD 638 million and is projected to quadruple to USD 2.59 billion by 2024.
Seeing the opportunity, an array of influencer-focused marketing agencies and platforms are appearing to get a bite from the pie. Singapore-based AnyMind is one of them.
Founded by Japanese nationals Kosuke Sogo and Otohiko Kozutsumi in April 2016, AnyMind started as a marketing tech platform called AdAsia Holdings. “At that time, I was a managing director for a Japanese digital company, taking care of business in the Asia Pacific area. I saw a big business opportunity in influencer marketing in Southeast Asia,” Sogo, CEO of AnyMind, told CrASIA in a recent interview.
Sogo decided to establish AnyMind’s headquarters in Singapore to focus on the Southeast Asia market, but his firm has already expanded to other regions, serving 13 countries across Asia and the Middle East.
AnyMind first started as an artificial intelligence-driven digital advertising platform, looking to help brands to identify influencers with high engagement ratios and strong social media reach. However, the company quickly branched out to other sectors and now has four business units: AdAsia for advertising, CastingAsia for influencer marketing, TalentMind for human resources, and AnyFactory, a recently launched service to connect KOLs with manufacturing providers.
The firm has also introduced a program for KOLs intent on launching their own brands, called D2C for Influencers, providing support with merchandise production, marketing, and brand image management.
The company’s business is a mixture of subscription and revenue-sharing models. “For platforms like TalentMind, it is done as a straightforward monthly subscription, but for platforms like CastingAsia and AdAsia we have different models for different uses,” Sogo said, without providing finer details.
Helping influencers to start their own brand
The influencer industry has grown to the point that KOLs can become their own brands. This pushed the company to start its D2C service to assist social media stars with designing, creating, launching, and selling their own branded merchandise.
“AnyFactory allows anyone to create any type of product they want, so it’s a very convenient platform for people who don’t know anything about manufacturing,” Sogo said, adding that there are now more than 200 manufacturers located in Japan, Vietnam, and China signed up on AnyFactory.
The service has already developed eight brands from Japanese, Thai, and Indonesian influencers, with 50 more brands to be launched in the next six months, according to Sogo. AnyMind covers the initial production cost for eligible influencers based on their follower number and engagement ratio, he explained.
Sogo said that AnyMind already has a “large” market share in key markets including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Japan, although he didn’t disclose specific numbers.
AnyMind is also actively acquiring local companies to expand its reach. To date, it has scored five acquisitions, with Indian mobile video advertising firm Pokkt as the latest addition.
Currently, AnyMind is developing a new logistics line that will cover product deliveries to its customers, while it is preparing the launch of a new e-commerce service called AnyShop to enable influencers to build and manage their own online store.
In March, the firm raised USD 26.4 million from Japan Post Capital and existing investors including Mirai Creation Fund, which fueled the launch of its D2C line. Founds will be also used to strengthen AnyMind’s presence in India and the Middle East, Sogo affirmed.
“The current AnyMind will not be our final form. We are going to develop more [products],” he said.