We felt it was a good time to associate with Filmfare Awards: Ravi Desai

Ravi Desai, Director, Mass & Brand Marketing, Amazon India, speaks on sponsoring Filmfare Awards and coinciding it with the positioning of their fashion and beauty product space

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Published: Feb 3, 2020 8:37 AM  | 9 min read
Ravi Desai

Amazon is leaving no stone unturned to position itself as a leader in the online fashion and beauty segment. In the months ahead, the e-commerce giant will be aggressively seen pushing its ‘Har Pal Fashionable’ campaign to makes its presence felt in the space. It is with this aim in mind that for the first time ever it is a title sponsor for the Filmfare Awards. Ravi Desai, Director, Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India shares why he believes this partnership is the perfect way to bring alive the connect between entertainment and fashion, he further elaborates on Amazon’s ambitious plans for its online fashion business.

Could you share details of your sponsorship of Filmfare Awards and why a Bollywood awards show in particular?

We at Amazon felt that this was a good time for us to associate with something as marque as Filmfare Awards. It is the 65th Filmfare awards that we are sponsoring this year. We believe that it's a coming together of an award platform that sort of showcases all the ways in which customers can actually full fill their fashion and beauty aspirations. And a partner like Amazon will then bring them, through a click on their phone, right at their doorstep the products that they would require. This coincides with our shift in the way we are positioning our fashion and beauty product platforms. The positioning idea there is to say that Amazon will help customers make their ‘Har Pal Fashionable’. Today every moment matters, whether it's a big moment like a red carpet or a celebrity-led award show, or little moments. Nowadays there is a gym look, there is a jogging look, so on. We often find customers, in fact, get inspired by some of these style icons and celebrities and want to buy and replicate those looks.  

The online fashion industry is an overcrowded space, what does Amazon intend doing differently?

I don't necessarily agree with the overcrowded space, I think, it's just about scratching the surface, whether it is us or whether it is all of the online platforms. We pretty much take a portfolio view year on year because being a horizontal brand we are the everything store, no wonder India calls us their ‘Apni Dukaan’. Everything is available on Amazon. So, it's a portfolio led view that we take year on year on what we believe will be the right sets of brands or products or services within our entire offering that we would like to invest marketing muscle behind. So, this particular year, and maybe over the next couple of years, we believe that fashion and beauty is a space that we would definitely like to back. Which is why the whole new idea of ‘Har Pal Fashionable’.

The focus behind this will be about going deeper into the country, associating with properties like the Filmfare Awards, as well as going out on our own with the content that some of these properties will actually give us. So that we engage the customer not just above the line, let's say with traditional media like TV, but also on social media platforms where we find a lot of customer engagement happen before the purchase journey even starts. Even on our own platform, we have services like the magazine, where you can actually get inspired around a certain look and then buy products that look would actually require.  So the attempt is to kind of use the next maybe 12 to 18 months to again go back and invest behind our fashion and beauty portfolio. We believe we are the fastest growing large e-commerce platform in the country so it's not about market share gains or any of that. But like I said, we are still scratching the surface, at Amazon we call it day one. We haven't even begun scratching the surface as far as the fashion and beauty market segment in India is concerned.

Which markets are pushing growth, whether it's the fashion segment or overall for Amazon’s e-commerce business?

If you're talking about Amazon as a whole, typically, Diwali is a period where we see penetration increase, a lot more new customers try us for the first time during that period. For the last 2 years now, if you look at the Indian landscape, there was, I think, 99 plus per cent pin code level penetration that we have managed to achieve over the last two Diwali’s. That's Amazon overall but if I speak specifically about fashion, apparel for us last year in 2019, was amongst the fastest growing smaller categories.

Almost 65 plus per cent of our apparel sales came from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. So that just goes to show that there is this myth in India that there is a demand only in Tier 1 Metro cities and so on. That's not the case at all. With the internet, access no longer remains a challenge.

Could you share your marketing strategy and budgets for the ‘Har Pal Fashionable’ campaign?

It’s going to be a large marketing intervention for 2020. The idea is to have TV commercials, take it on digital media, work through the line, look at how social media amplification can be done. And then, of course, our own site will also start reflecting the way in which this can be alive literally on the store itself. In the next few weeks, you should be able to see that campaign come aliv

Can you tell us a little more about your marketing plan as far as social media is concerned?

For us, the customer is really the lighthouse in some sense, we try and reach out to the customer wherever he/she is. It's not like we are thinking media backwards, we're actually taking inspiration from where the customer is, what we have found is that there is a fair amount of engagement that happens, not just on marketing interventions where you put out communications, but also on social media, where the customer is trying to search for a particular look or makeup.

There is a fair amount of search and engagement that happens both on our platform as well as on other social media platforms on the internet. And it's just the right thing to do if you want to engage with the customer.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced a $1bn investment plan on his India visit, could you share details on how this will be taken forward?

So, let me caveat by saying that it is very early days. The announcement happened less than two weeks back. This was at a small and medium business summit, Smbhav that was held in Delhi. We were lucky to have Jeff come down and be the keynote speaker on the first day. As part of that team address, he announced an incremental investment of 1 billion US dollars to help SMBs in India get digitised, to take the advantage of technology and improve on their business models using tech. It's very early right now for us to kind of figure out how this investment is going to play out but it is not an investment only in the Amazon business, it is actually an investment to help our seller partners to be able to deploy technology in their own business models and try and improve their businesses using technology.

I don't know whether you're aware but we have 5 and a half lakh sellers and counting on our marketplace, I think 60,000 of those sellers now, actually register global sales by selling outside India, using the Amazon network. Not too many people know that. It is a pure marketplace model where sellers actually sell on the platform and customers buy from sellers and not just in India. But like I said there are Amazon networks that sellers are tapping into. Some of them have actually sold crores worth of their product, having never sold anything outside India, it is the first time that they've actually been able to export outside the country, we've so far been able to sort of get a billion dollars’ worth of exports since the time the global business program started here in the country as well. And there is a commitment to grow that manifold over the next five years.

E-commerce platforms are emerging as important mediums for digital advertising. Why do you think this is and how is Amazon itself placed in India?

So, let me first start by being honest about the fact that I don't look after advertising on Amazon business, so I'm going to give you an answer from a marketing lens.

If you think about a traditional store, you have access to customers who have the intent to purchase. I have worked in CPG, FMCG, in India for 15 plus years, no better place to tap into the customer than when she is actually in the mindset to buy. Let's take a product like biscuits, the customer is in the biscuit aisle, she's likely to pick up a packet. Why would my brand not want to speak to her when she's just about to make a choice of saying a packet of biscuits? Now, if I take that parallel and take it to the online platform, it is exactly that, that the Amazon advertising business enables, right? Here are millions of customers who are actually on the site with an intent to either browse or purchase products. And it is but natural that other brands want to tap into that intent by serving the right ad for the right product at the right point in time. I think like a marketer, I would love to have the ability to speak to a very focused set of customers who have the intent to buy.

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