Understanding the essence of influence

The word influence has evolved over the decades to mean different things to different people, at different times in their lives.

Traditionally, for a child, influence was limited to a parent, a teacher, a few friends and perhaps an extended family. Teenagers were influenced by peer groups, parents, role models and people from the larger environment. For a young adult, influence came in the form of an ideology, a favourite sports person, a fellow professional, a brand, a celebrity, a youth group, friends, etc. Changing experiences and priorities change our set of influencers. Reputed media organizations, political institutions, music and cinema exerted influence. Less than 25 years ago, the world was still an insular place, and influence was limited to the things that comprised one’s own insulated space.

Today, everything has changed. Digital technology and social media have redefined traditional equations. We live in a hyper-connected world and influencers can reach us from different places. In this issue, we examine the many aspects of influence, what drives it and how
it is transforming our world today. What is the psychology involved as well as the ethical conflicts that arise particularly in the area of influencer marketing?