It has been a good year for e-commerce players in the country. Online shopping has been growing by leaps and bounds and most of the major players have managed to secure substantial funding for their operations. A large portion of this funding has gone into marketing and promotional activities as they try to attract more of the significant non-digital native population of the country.
The festive season always sees an upswing in promotional activities by brands and e-commerce players have left no stone unturned to capitalise on the shopping spirit seen among consumers during this period. We have seen a number of aggressive campaigns and activities by almost all the e-commerce brands across different mediums. This time around, mediums like the television and outdoor have also been extensively used.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) 2014 report states that the corporates are planning to spend about 25-30 per cent on advertising in this festive season as compared to the last year in consumer durables, electronics and auto taking the lead, but this change is expected in the e-commerce space ranging from higher sales in mobile telephones, shoes, apparel, gifts and electronic gadgets.
For example, Flipkart will be hosting ‘The Big Billion Day’ on October 6, 2014, which, claims Shoumyan Biswas, Senior Director (Marketing) at Flipkart, will be “the greatest sale that India has ever seen”. The sale will encompass products across 70 categories including exclusive products from Xiaomi and Motorola. “On this day, our focus is to create a mega shopping event for the whole of India which will cater to their festive shopping needs. We also want to create a larger than life, recurring property out of the Big Billion Day, something every Indian shopper will look out for every year,” said Biswas.
Similarly, Flipkart’s recent acquisition Myntra also held a Fashion Weekend for connoisseurs between October 3-5. “We have used a blend of traditional and modern mediums for the festive campaign. OOH and digital mediums are targeted towards the metro cities and television and print mediums are used extensively to reach out to the greater masses across the country,” said Biswas when asked about how Flipkart is promoting the new property.
But such activities are only one side of the coin. A number of online brands have launched extensive brand campaigns leading up to the festive season. “This is the perfect time to launch a 360 degree campaign. Just before Dusshera, spends go up. This is a high demand period with people actively looking for products,” said Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO of Pepperfry, which launched its first television campaign in September. The new brand campaign, which also includes print, radio, OOH and digital media is also the biggest one for Pepperfy, which specialises in furniture and home décor products. When asked about the returns and relative risks on carrying out such a big campaign, Vadapalli justified it, saying: “This (the campaign) will help us to reach the next level of targets that we have set for ourselves.”
But how effective are these campaigns in reality? Snapdeal.com also launched an ambitious 360-degree brand campaign earlier this month. Expected to run for over a month, it will see them produce 50 commercials featuring 28 different celebrity endorsements. When asked what impact they expect with such a large campaign, Sandeep Komaravelly, Senior VP (Marketing) at Snapdeal.com said they have already seen growth doubling since the campaign started and are projecting more positive growth in the coming festive period. “There is a lot of intent to buy and our aim is that the bulk of shopping needs to be done on Snapdeal. All brands are talking during this period so we needed to be different,” he explains.
And all brands are in fact talking. Jabong, which competes with the likes of Myntra launched an aggressive multi-media campaign around the new brand message of ‘Be You’ in September. The fashion retailer will now be recycling the campaign in a new “festive avatar” said Praveen Sinha, Co-founder and Managing Director of Jabong. Along with the ad campaign, Jabong, like many others will also have special offers in the form of a Diwali “gift shop” beginning October 12.
“TV is one of the widest reaching mediums and will be leveraged to spread information on offers, styles, gifting and more. Radio, OOH & print will target metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. A similar strategy will be implemented for emerging cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh etc. The marketing strategy goes into an aggressive gear during festive seasons. But that's only one part of the story. The same is complimented with around the clock customer care services both on call and on social media,” he said.
But it is not just on the non-digital advertising front that e-commerce players are getting aggressive. Tangerine Digital, which creates digital solutions for clients, has recently launched an e-commerce content solution specifically for e-retailers who want to leverage the festive season. Though Tangerine could not divulge details of the e-retailers currently using the solution, it shows that even agencies have started creating customised solutions for this period. “There has been a significant difference that brands see by using the customised solution. Now with the power of analytics you can at first understand what exactly your social and mobile first consumer is looking for and then a customised solution can be created looking forward to those needs. In this scenario, brands are communicating and engaging more effectively with the consumers on the digital ecosystem,” said Seeraj Katoch, COO at Tangerine Digital.
With the explosion of advertisements that we have seen by e-commerce players recently, it is pertinent to take a look at how much buzz they have created on social media. When asked to provide us with figures of the mentions on Twitter for some of these players, Simplify360 found that Snapdeal had the most mentions with nearly 19,000 in the last month, while Flipkart’s ‘Welcome’ ad had also generated 5,000 mentions. Other players like Jabong and Myntra also saw an increase in their social chatter with 5,300 and 4,700 mentions in the last 30 days.