How POPxo is bridging the gap

POPxo founder Priyanka Gill hopes to groom POPxo’s customer base into Luxeva users   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

She might only have 17.5k followers, but Priyanka Gill’s Instagram persona has the deliberateness of a social media influencer. She tells you where she got the shirt, the bralet, the heels she’s wearing; she credits the hair and make-up artist, and even gives a shout-out to the Airbnb she’s vacationing at.

This is on brand for Gill. After all, the 39-year-old is the brains behind Plixxo, one of India’s first social media influencer management companies (with a roster of over 39k clients, they claim), launched in 2017. But her break into the digital content space came three years before that, with POPxo, the lifestyle, fashion, and beauty website that she started as a “go-to place” for her target audience: the millennial Indian woman.

The website is a mix of Bollywood news, life hacks and retail listicles. Discussions on the app range from whether a manglik boy and a non-manglik girl can get married, to how many times in a day one can use a vaginal wash.

This digital community-building is a major driver for Gill. Before POPxo, she’d started another online platform called eStylista, a lifestyle community for all “rich NRI women across the world,” she says with a smile, nodding to herself. The idea was that regardless of where they lived, these women had similar upbringing and could use a platform to share and discover interests. Now, she’s taken the name of POPxo and Plixxo’s UK-based parent company, Luxeva, for her latest vertical: a digital content platform focussed exclusively on luxury.

RIP (Rest in Print)

Luxeva is now six months old, but when Gill shuffles into a large conference room at CoWorks in Gurugram — 174 of her employees, with the rest in Mumbai, work here — it’s clear that POPxo is still her biggest preoccupation.

“Readers today don’t have the same love affair with print — they don’t get it,” says the English literature graduate from Lady Shri Ram College. “That population is only going to increase.”

Luckily for POPxo, its initial days coincided with Facebook’s push to be the world’s newsfeed, so Gill led her team to churn out articles by the hour. Former employees recall having to produce about four articles each, per day. In late 2016, when Facebook gave a push for video content, POPxo followed suit, producing as many as 50 in-house videos a month.

But even as this content-factory was operating on full speed, Gill was looking at merchandise as a potential source of revenue. Take the Powerpuff girl meme, which hit a million views on social media last year. The company quickly cashed in on the wave by collaborating with Cartoon Network for a Powerpuff Girls X POPxo merchandise line. On cue, the company also opened a merchandise kiosk at the Select CITYWALK mall in Delhi earlier this year, being the only one of its ilk to venture into offline retail so far.

There are doubts however, as to whether the merchandise strategy is working as well as Gill would want it to. A quick glance at social media shows that merchandise-based content garners less engagement and likes than say, a Bollywood post. With no sales data available, this becomes an important marker.

Grooming the luxury market

By now, Gill has spoken for close to 35 minutes with almost no pauses or sips of the tall coffee she has carried with her. And she speaks fast. Despite all her ideas pouring like bubbly, Luxeva — with an interface of articles, listicles and merchandise, quite like POPxo’s — hasn’t yet fully taken off on its own. Gill wants to follow the POPxo game plan of building a community, this time of luxury consumers. The hope is also that the POPxo user will be groomed into a Luxeva user. The success of this plan remains to be seen, especially since the Indian luxury market is still small.

A former employee, who worked at POPxo four years ago, recalls that the platform’s audience then mostly lived in Tier II and Tier III cities. So far, this has worked splendidly. As per latest data, readers from these cities still make up 51% of the audience, and they have over 39 million MAUs (monthly active users) across platforms. Today, the Hindi version has a bigger user-base than the English one, and with over ₹75 crore in capital as of March this year, Gill is pushing the Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, and Marathi versions too.

And so, the POPxo machine steamrolls on. Two more verticals, including one on millennial parenting, are in the pipeline. But with digital lifestyle and entertainment sites now a dime a dozen, one wonders how much longer Gill can wait for her original POPxo community to mature into her many fast-arriving verticals.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 2:37:04 AM |

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