The history of digital marketing in Nepal is relatively short, as the internet and technology have only recently become widely available in the country. However, the use of digital platforms for marketing and advertising has grown exponentially in the past few years.
Internet Evolution in Nepal
The Internet was available globally back in 1990 A.D., and by 1993 A.D. The first clickable banner had already gone live. In 1994, Yahoo was launched. This was also the year the Internet was introduced in Nepal. However, it was only available through dial-up connections and was not widely used. This was followed by the introduction of Broadband internet service in the early 2000s which was mostly limited to urban areas. The service began gaining popularity in rural areas only after the Nepal Government started providing licenses for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in 2004. And after the introduction of the mobile internet the following year, the use of the internet began gaining momentum in the country.
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With the advent of wireless technology, the efforts made by the government to increase internet penetration in rural areas, competition amongst ISPs, increased affordability, and the growth of mobile internet, Nepal has seen significant growth in Internet penetration in recent years. According to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the internet penetration rate in Nepal has grown from 24% (2017) to over 50% (2021) within just 5 years. Today, more than 35% of Nepalese households consume the internet daily.
Facebook: The gamechanger
When Facebook was first introduced in Nepal in 2008, it was primarily used by young people in urban residences. The older generations in the urban areas eventually followed the suit. However, it wasn’t until around 2010 that the platform began to gain widespread popularity in the country. And even more than a decade after its launch, Facebook remains the most eminent social media platform amongst Nepalese internet users.
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For many years, Facebook was only a platform for connecting and networking in Nepal. Despite the launch of Facebook Ads in 2006, many were unaware of how they could capitalize on the platform for marketing. Thus, the companies, mostly small and medium-sized, resorted to using Facebook only to create their brand pages so that they could reach a larger audience to promote their product and services. This can be regarded as the first form of Facebook marketing in Nepal.
As the popularity of Facebook surged after 2010, companies started realizing its potential and using it for marketing. Over the years, the use of Facebook marketing has evolved from creating business pages to running Facebook ads. Businesses are also using the platform’s targeting options to maximize their marketing efforts.
In Nepal, more than 4 million people use Facebook (2021), thus, making it the platform with the highest audience for businesses to target. While Facebook marketing remains the most effective form of digital marketing, one should also consider the increasing popularity of other social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok.
E-Commerce and the rise of Digital Marketing
The e-commerce industry in Nepal started in the early 2000s with Muncha House. The industry, however, only saw significant growth in the early 2010s after wider internet accessibility. Sastodeal, which was launched in 2011, quickly gained popularity, thus, leading to the establishment of other e-commerce businesses such as Kaymu (later acquired by Daraz), Hamro Bazaar, and Daraz.
The initial phase in the Nepalese e-commerce industry was met with a lot of challenges. Lack of internet accessibility, low trust in online transactions and products, limited payment options, and delivery infrastructure made it difficult for businesses to penetrate the Nepalese market. But increased internet penetration and the number of online shoppers, fueled by global online shopping trends, led to significant improvements in the industry. Further, the potential of the industry was also recognized by the government, thus, creating a supportive environment for such businesses to prosper.
As the e-commerce industry flourished, marketers realized they could drive traffic to their sites and increase sales through digital marketing. However, many e-commerce businesses in Nepal have yet to make the most of the numerous prospects offered by digital marketing completely.
Covid-19 turns a new page in the Digital Marketing Chapter
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the market and the way businesses operate in Nepal. The lockdowns and social distancing measures have led to people spending more and more time on the internet. In fact, the dependence on the internet and digital mediums to communicate, shop, and access information, has grown significantly due to the pandemic. This led to businesses having no choice but to opt for digital marketing. Marketing strategies have shifted from in-person to online channels and events. From reaching out to the target audience to driving sales and conversions, every step of the consumer journey is driven by digital marketing strategies.
The rising wave of Influencer Marketing
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Influencers have taken the world by storm. Within a short period of time, they have successfully managed to gain the trust of their followers and create niches on the internet. Inevitably, Nepal is also seeing significant growth in the number of influencers and their followers. As a result, brands have started collaborating with influencers so that they can leverage the connection built by influencers with their followers.
The future is digital, and digital marketing is here to stay. Therefore, it is paramount that businesses in Nepal immediately adopt digital marketing strategies.