It is no secret that many people shop for clothing online across various e-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, and Myntra, and for many, it may have even replaced going to stores to try clothing before buying. But one thing that is important while putting clothing online for sale for clothing brands is the imagery—how the models look in the e-commerce images, and now, per Myntra’s ex-CEO, Ananth Narayan, having white-skinned models may contribute to more clicks.
While this is certainly a peculiar study, Narayan, during a podcast with Zerodha chief, Nikil Kamath, claimed that Indians prefer clicking on products that feature white-skinned models, as seen in the click-through rates of product listings.
“I have an interesting anecdote on the color of the models. I think it is changing but if you go to Myntra, you will find that everybody is fair-skinned,” Narayan claimed. Kamath asked Narayan why India clothing brands such as Louis Philippe and Peter England hire white-skinned foreign models to represent their clothing, and to this, he replied that the primary factor in consideration here is the click-through rate.
“We ran an experiment where you looked at click-through rates a long time ago and found that the click-through rates are actually different. So purely economically, the click-through rates on performance marketing were higher—that was some 5-7 years ago,” Narayan explained. Simply put, if you had a whiter model, the click-through rates were higher compared to darker models.
Narayan said that it could be to do with people’s “mindset.”
Narayan also further mentioned that having a name that is associated with foreign entities, and having fair-skinned models allows these brands to help associate themselves with being premium.
Kamath then posed the question that if this approach would still be effective in the long-term. And while Narayan did say that this perception is changing, and having brands like Kagzi, which is an Indian ethnic brand that hires Indian models, is just as successful, but he also said that brand names play a vital role in influencing customer behavior, and it is important that the brand has a story associated with it.
Then, this fact was correlated to the “colonial baggage” that India allegedly has, but Narayan eventually said that this is gradually changing, but it won’t happen “overnight.”
So yes, it is certainly interesting to see an ex-CEO of a fashion e-commerce brand claiming such about consumer behavior and patterns, but this does beg the question, what else could consumer behavior be influenced by, and what one thinks before clicking on a link or a photo.