Nitin Agarwal, AVP-Marketing, ShopClues.com, talks about why the brand focuses on the middle class consumer and that the expectation from 2016 is major growth
All your ads show a host of products, but never any big brand. Why?
That is deliberate, because we consider ourselves a platform for local products and not big brands; so the focus is always on the products. For example, we would be advertising a scratch-remover pen and other ‘quirky’ products as opposed to a big brand. You can buy utility products, sometimes very unique and novel, at a very affordable price at ShopClues. That’s why people keep coming to the Sunday Flea Market.
With more and more e-commerce players entering the market, do you think the opportunities will grow or the market would shrink for each player?
If there is more competition, the market grows even faster. Everyone invests heavily in an attempt to get his share of the pie, which benefits the entire market. If you are a copycat model, then you would need to worry. But we have a differentiated business model, so we don’t really see new competition as a threat. About 70 per cent of our traffic comes from tier II and tier III cities, because that’s where the middle class consumer, i.e., our target audience, resides. They are the ones who need special products but at a budget price and thus have a good connect with us. Moreover, they have problems getting such products in their home-towns; that’s where we come into the picture.
What was the insight behind the ‘Oh Bhai Sahab’ campaign?
The Sunday Flea Market is one of our most popular properties and we wanted people to be itching to get back to it. A year ago, the SundayFlea market used to go live at midnight, but people would be queuing up long before that, starting at 11 pm or so to grab the best deals. Based on that observation, we came up with this concept ‘Oh Bhai Sahab’. The man has hiccups every time somebody buys something on the Sunday Flea Market. Our idea was to keep it quirky and humorous and to connect with the youth.
What is the marketing mix for this campaign, and which medium is the focus of your ad spends?
The main channel for communication is TV, because story-telling works best here. The second leg of the campaign was largely on social media because most of our audience is young and very active on social networking sites. So, we created Twitter and Facebook pages for ‘Bhai Sahab’ and defined his persona - he is from Kanpur, has political views, loves to watch movies and cricket. ‘Bhai Sahab’ started tweeting and within a span of one week, we had around 1,000 followers on Twitter and more than 6,000 likes on Facebook. So the idea was to get ‘Bhai Sahab’ a good fan following so that he can come and introduce ShopClues to his followers.
Is ‘Bhai Sahab’ going to be a part of all future campaigns of ShopClues?
Yes, people love ‘Bhai Sahab’. Sometimes brands and properties are not very well personified. With ‘Bhai Sahab’, we have been able to create a warm and affable character for people to engage with, which has worked very well for us. This is a new frontier in the brand journey.
So how differently do you approach the tier II and tier III markets?
Our entire marketing campaign is aimed at reaching out in greater force to tier II and tier III cities. Even in the ‘Oh Bhai Sahab’ campaign, the conversation is close to that in the Hindi hinterland. You can easily imagine that happening in Kanpur or Allahabad, and such characters existing there.
Would you explore the option of going app-only? Myntra tried it, and Flipkart was considering it for a while.
No, I have always maintained that going app-only is a closed strategy and it is the mobile site where we see a lot of traction. We are not a metro phenomenon; and cater more to the tier II and tier III audiences wherein mobile sites make much more sense. This is because people are sensitive about data and memory usage on their phones there. They do not like to keep an app installed on the phone for a very long time. That way, the website or a mobile site gives them a richer option of engagement.
What are the challenges for ShopClues in the market?
We have to reach out to a larger number of people, in a more impactful way, and bring them to our platform by letting them know what ShopClues has to offer. This category has a lot of noise and clutter, which makes it difficult to do differentiated messaging. We have tried to do it so far, every campaign has been quirky and very well received. But, it is difficult because of the sheer volume of communication which happens in a particular category.
ShopClues is also a platform for multiple brands to advertise, don’t the ads lure the consumer away from your website to the advertiser’s website?
Many a time, people come to our site to research before they actually make up their minds to buy any products. At these times, the ads are not a distraction. Moreover, these ads help bring in revenue. But yes, we carefully monitor the site to ensure that important visits to the site are not futile.